Editor’s Note: DCSC Volunteer and Programs Associate Fatima Godfrey reflects on her role within the FMS office, finding the mission of accompaniment abundantly.
Working at the FMS office as the Programs Associate provides me the opportunity to serve as the first point of contact for those inquiring with FMS. This means I get the privilege of essentially being someone’s first impression of the face of FMS. My calls are usually with potential Overseas Lay Mission applicants, but there have been a few times I’ve spoken with potential DC Service Corps applicants as well. During my first DCSC inquiry call, I was very adamant with the applicant that they could ask me any question they would like. To my surprise, I was hit with the question, “What has been the greatest takeaway from your year of service so far?” I was very shocked, yet not unprepared to answer in the slightest. Here is what I told them:
In my brief six months, I’d say the greatest takeaway is learning about the ministry of presence and the reality that service manifests in many different ways. Ministry of presence, also known as accompaniment, is the primary ministry of FMS. This ministry is a relationship-oriented approach and seeks to reaffirm the dignity of each person. It is obvious how the ministry of presence is practiced as a missioner overseas or serving those experiencing homelessness in downtown DC. The truth is even as an office associate, I practice the ministry of presence every day.
I practice the ministry of presence in creating personalized emails to be sent to hundreds of students, campus ministers, and department heads. Likewise, when I have phone calls with prospective applicants, and in the daily interactions I have with my colleagues in our work environment, I actively practice accompaniment. Serving as the Programs Associate and interacting with more people than I could have ever imagined has made me realize that even though my service looks different, it is still service. When I email someone to schedule a call or invite them to a webinar, my initial interaction is the beginning of building a relationship. Whether our connection is brief or lasting, I have the privilege of walking with someone in their discernment to answer the call to mission and service. I am a very small piece in the process, but I am grateful for my role regardless.
Reflection Question: How do you practice the ministry of presence in your daily life?