By Hilary Merlo
As I reflect on my life, I recognize that I am sum of people and experiences that have poured into me, and my work and Gotham are two very strong influences in that. I am privileged in that as I entered the workforce from college, I happened to be surrounded by people who talked about the importance of the integration of faith and work. I was molded with the idea that work was and is important to the flourishing of a community. So, in 2015 when I moved to New York and heard about Redeemer and the Center for Faith & Work for the first time, I was absolutely floored that there was something like the Gotham Fellowship and knew I had to apply.
As excited as I was about something like this, I was nervous when I began the program because I had never studied some of the things in the curriculum before and felt like I would be totally intimidated by the people I’d be in class with. However, it took about 10 minutes into the first retreat to see how amazing this community was that I would to get to live life with for the next 9 months. The best way to describe it is that the Gotham community is as safe space. It’s safe to learn, process, pray, seek, and to throw theoretical grenades of questions about doubt or application of the gospel. It’s a group of people committed to your knowing God’s love for you. A group of people praying with and for you. A group of people loving you.
The other apprehension I had in applying was that “this wouldn’t be a good year to do this” because of how busy I am with work – classic New Yorker, right? I am a general manager for an education fundraising startup and it is very quickly growing. I feared this would negatively impact my work because I wouldn’t have time for both. Applying to Gotham was an act of faith for me. “God, if you want me to do this fellowship this year, I pray you would have them accept me and I’ll trust you and do it” is what I prayed. I’ve seen the Lord do things in my understanding of my impact on the people I work with. I’ve seen him teach me how to let go of this death-grip of control I have on the things I care about, and in my understanding of how I am an agent of reconciliation for God’s Kingdom through my work. It has helped me not just think in the morning or evening about my faith, but to really have a functional belief about God that I am living in and out of. It’s helped me understand how richly loved and secure I am. And that the work I am doing is a part of bringing God’s kingdom to earth as it is in Heaven.
Doing hard things is scary. Applying to Gotham might take some faith. But I encourage you to do it. In the process, you might just learn a little more about yourself and about God.
The Gotham Fellowship is CFW's nine-month discipleship intensive which provides theological, spiritual and relational foundations required for meaningful and sustainable integration of faith and work. Applications for the 2018-19 class are due March 31. More information and application at faithandwork.com/gotham