Highlights of 2013 Immersion Chapels

April 19, 2013

Each January, PSR students and faculty engage in immersion courses that stretch their awareness and strengthen their theological and multicultural capacities as leaders and change agents. This year, a group of students accompanied Devin Zuber, Assistant Professor of American Studies, Literature, and Swedenborgian Studies to New York City for two weeks to explore cultural memory in urban space and another group of students received a hands-on learning in ministries with the most marginalized people in the inner city with Rev. Dr. Yvette Flunder, PSR Trustee and founding pastor of City of Refuge UCC, San Francisco (www.sfrefuge.org).

As part of the immersion course experience, the students are given the opportunity to reflect on their experiences to the greater PSR community by convening a Tuesday chapel service during the spring semester. On Tuesday, March 12, the NYC immersion students convened a unique chapel service and the following Tuesday, March 19, the Refuge in the City immersion students convened a powerful chapel service.

For details and images from the Refuge in the City chapel service below, click here.

NYC Immersion: Cultural Memory in Urban Space

The four areas that the immersion trip focused on were: African-American Cultural Memory, Immigrant Memory, Memory Sites of Cultural Trauma, and Queer Urban Space. As part of the course, students were required to post to a blog while they were in NYC. You can read their blog entries here: culturalmemoryurbanspace.wordpress.com

The students created altar stations to represent these four areas of cultural memory. One additional station was created to represent the class’ experience with engaging with Walt Whitman’s "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry" by taking a ferry to Brooklyn and reading Whitman’s poem at the ferry landing. Those attending were invited to be flâneurs and walk around the chapel, exploring the various stations of cultural memory as the students did while they were in NYC.

Dr. Devin Zuber began outside the chapel talking about why he created this immersion trip and his time in NYC during the attacks on September 11, 2001. Brief testimonies were given by Meredith Jackson, Daniel Borysewicz and Sarah McCune at different times during the worship experience. Sandra Saunders-West read Langston Hughes “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” as the Call to Worship and provided a cornbread communion for those who came to the African-American Cultural Memory station. Ben Bigney provided inspiring music on the piano while people wandered around the space. (Click on the images for a slightly larger version.)

Students enter into the space while the PSR Chorale sings Sandra Saunders-West with conrbread communion at the African-American Cultural Memory Altar

Memory Sites of Cultural Trauma Altar /files_psr/u1154/2013-03-12_11-33-37_287.jpg

Immigrant Memory Altar Queer Urban Space Altar

NYC Immersion Trip

Refuge in The City Immersion

Students from this past January's Refuge In The City immersion course gave a passionate and moving chapel service that powerfully reflected Bishop Yvette Flunder's theology of radical inclusion: intentional loving creation of space on the margin for many different voices. Anchored in Scripture (specifically Micah and Galatians), and with the involvement of the absolutely wonderful PSR Chorale, the students shared what lies at the center of "Refuge theology" -- the heart. The students chose to collect an offering for Las Memorias, a Refuge mission in Tijuana that provides free services to some of the most marginalized people in all of México; and to close the service, the Reverend Toni Dunbar from City of Refuge assisted DOC student Shannon Smith in a communion liturgy that left not one dry eye in the chapel. From a love for social justice to a love of Scripture, and from a ministry of music to a searingly passionate emotional vulnerability, the students showed the PSR community why Refuge In The City remains a life-changing immersion experience.
(Click on the images for a slightly larger version.)