A New Year of Service at Deaconess Anne House
This is the first in a series of feature stories about Deaconess Anne House to be published each week of September 2020. Future stories will introduce you to each of this year's corps members.
by the Rev. Michaelene Miller,
Director of Deaconess Anne House
and 201-2014 DAH Alumna
A little after 7 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 31 in the backyard at Deaconess Anne House in Old North St. Louis, I presented Mtipe Koggani, Maddy Bishop, Alexandrea Nessi, and Bryan Moore to Bishop Deon Johnson to be commissioned as the Diocese of Missouri’s 8th cohort of young adults to serve as the corps members of Deaconess Anne House. We were surrounded by a great cloud of mosquitoes and a small, faithful group of alumni and members from Trinity Episcopal Church in the Central West End. These individuals were gathered to bear witness to this new beginning and promised to support and uphold these young adults in their ministry of service to their neighbors and life together in intentional Christian community. The gathered alumni are serving as Prayer Pals, or companions along the way, for current members and those from Trinity are serving as Host Families, acting as a bridge for the corps members to their new city, their new diocese, and to Trinity where they will worship together as a community several times a month.
The cohort moved into their new home on Saturday, Aug. 8 and just completed a two-week "quarantation" (orientation + quarantine). They have also completed their first full week at their placement sites, which include Christ Church Cathedral (Mtipe), Rockwell Campus Ministry (Maddy), The Inter-Faith Committee on Latin America (Alexandrea), and The Haven of Grace (Bryan).
Monday's commissioning marked the community’s first time hosting Monday Night Dinner and Worship, which is a weekly time to gather with community neighbors and friends from around the diocese during a typical program year. This year, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the community is getting creative with how they can still live into the hospitality of Monday nights. Stay tuned for more details, but the plan is sure to include citronella candles, outdoor lighting, masks, sanitizer, and individually packaged snacks like popsicles, which we all enjoyed from a safe distance after our first service.
The evening was also Bishop Deon’s first official visit to Deaconess Anne House and the corps members enjoyed sharing their hopes for the Episcopal Church with him over an outdoor picnic before the service. Right before worship began, they presented Bishop Deon with a gift basket of Deaconess Anne House and Episcopal Service Corps swag, including a DAH stole commissioned from Jeff Wunrow Designs. Previous corps members who have gone through discernment for Holy Orders during their time at Deaconess Anne House have also received these stoles.
It is my hope, even in the midst of a pandemic, that this is another year of discernment and deep Christian formation for this cohort of young adults sojourning together in St. Louis and that the entire Diocese of Missouri journeys even further into becoming a mentoring environment for young adults seeking a life of faith. It is a time of physical distancing and great unknowns… and yet, the diocese has been blessed with the faithful “yes” from four young adults answering God’s call to be present - to each other, to those in need, to the work of Christ already happening in Old North and the St. Louis region.
As I have gotten to know these sojourners these past few weeks, I can happily share that their presence is indeed a blessing that seeks to reveal the holy creativity, mutual care, and justice that God calls us all to in this moment. I hope that many others get to experience the blessing of their presence in the diocese throughout their year with Deaconess Anne House.
Deaconess Anne House is a member of the Episcopal Service Corps, a national network of intentional communities in the Episcopal Church. Visit esc-stl.org to learn more about Deaconess Anne House; visit EpiscopalServiceCorps.org to learn more or apply.