My supervisor took me down to New York City Hall today to witness the swearing-in ceremony of the NYC Civic Corps, a local AmeriCorps-based volunteer program that aims at tackling pressing municipal issues like economic opportunity, health, education, clean energy, and the environment. Aside from "strategic partner development," I don't think there was any real reason for us to go other than to get out of the office for a few minutes on a gorgeous day. My supervisor is also old friends with many of the people in the NYC Service program, so I got to meet and chat with a lot of really smart, influential, and down-to-earth leaders, including Diahann Billings-Burford, the city's first chief service officer, who also happens to be my current supervisor's former boss. The ceremony was short and sweet, taking only 30 minutes to offer a handful of recognitions and a few inspiring remarks. They also recited the AmeriCorps pledge, which gave me flashbacks to last year's NCCC ceremonies. Oddly enough, Mayor Michael Bloomberg also used his time on the podium at the end of the event to rail against faulty voting machines that were "screwing up" the primary elections that start today.
After work, I attended the Midtown small group hosted by Tim and Talida that meets near Bryant Park, but unfortunately, there was very low turnout today with only four people in attendance. We started a new series by Tim Keller called Gospel in Life and watched an opening video, followed by some good discussion about the New York lifestyle. We learned that, as Christians, we must strive to love and edify our city, not just use it for our own selfish and gluttonous ends. I was especially convicted by Keller's observation, taken from the Israelite exile in Babylon, that we should not 1) flee the city in order to retain our spiritual identity or 2) remain in the city and lose our spiritual identity. On the contrary, God requires that we 3) both remain in the city and retain our spiritual identity. I think it is far too easy for me to slip into a comfort zone by isolating myself amongst fellow Christians, and it is far too easy for me to forget about my faith in the midst of the city's pleasures and indulgences. Neither is preferable, and there is a fine line that must be walked to remain in the world, but not of it.
|The NYC Civic Corps induction in front of City Hall.|
|NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg with municipal Chief Service Officer Diahann Billings-Burford.|
|Standing up to recite the AmeriCorps pledge. I had flashbacks.|
|Mayor Bloomberg gives his closing statements.|
|Mayor Bloomberg used the last few minutes of the ceremony to make a political statement denouncing the voting problems in NYC during today's primary elections.|
|I cut through the lovely Bryant Park tonight, which is having a free fall festival and featured the Five Boroughs Music Festival this evening.|
|The lovely Bryant Park at night.|
|The very small showing at tonight's Midtown fellowhsip group. We're starting an exciting new study by Tim Keller!|