Kayla will be based at Grace-St. Luke’s and work at St. Columba Episcopal Conference and Retreat Center.
Hometown: Numerous – most recently the lovely Rome, Ga.
School(s)/degree(s): B.A. in English, Sewanee: The University of the South
Previous professional life: Graduated in May 2015 – right now I’m a shopkeeper!
How did you find out about Episcopal Service Corps?
I heard about ESC because some postgraduates who were interested in establishing an ESC program in my college town. My friend Mary Margaret Winn, youth pastor extraordinaire of Grace-St. Luke’s, reintroduced me to the program in my senior year at Sewanee.
What compelled you to apply and to decide to spend a year with ESC?
I felt a calling toward a year of discernment. After I spent a summer with the sisters of St. Mary’s Convent in Sewanee, the concept of living in simple and intentional community was not only familiar to me, but a preferable way of life. With Mary Margaret’s encouragement, I decided to apply, and after hearing about the St. Columba project in particular, I started to believe the City of Soul project was one I could contribute to with energy.
What do you see in Memphis? Why did the City of Soul project appeal to, or resonate with you?
I’ve lived in many communities throughout my life, and have always felt delight in learning about and assimilating to new micro-cultures. Though I attended college in Tennessee, I have never been to Memphis, and I find the challenge of a new setting, with such a vibrant history, very exciting. I love that City of Soul is a relatively new ESC program – I’ve always liked to work in new communities, to help mold the way things will go for future participants.
Why is ministry important to you, and how have you been involved in ministry in your life?
I feel I’ve always been attached to ministry – I curiously read many biographies of missionaries growing up – but I think that my favorite roles in ministries have been being a sacristan at All Saints’ Chapel in Sewanee and an intern at St. Mary’s Convent. Those ministries really solidified in me that being a leader in ministry is about being a listener more than a talker, a behind-the-scenes guide more than a tall, visible presence. I love working together with others to make sure things go so well that no one even noticed you did anything.
Who has inspired you the most and why?
I have an amazing family – a disciplined, passionate and truly hilarious bunch. I really appreciate that I grew up as one of many cousins, but that my aunts, uncles and grandparents always trusted me to decide what was important to me. My grandparents, especially, were so formative for me – one taught me to be reliable and grateful; one taught me that everyone has a story and is a potential friend; one taught me that service is about quiet grace; one taught me that any accomplishment really means nothing without a sense of humility.
If you could name one moment in your life that changed it completely and most significantly, what would that moment be?
I think it would be the moment I first stepped onto Sewanee’s campus as a student. I felt so shy, intellectually intimidated and homesick already. But being thrust into a new place where I knew no one was the best thing that could have happened to me. I learned how to exercise my natural independence and to reach out for support when I needed it from the best friends and faculty I’d ever known. I learned to love a place like I never had before, and that moment led up to my reception to the Episcopal Church in my junior year, another life-changing moment.
What’s the most recent book you’ve read?
Beloved by Toni Morrison. Not really a light summer read, but definitely worth the investment.
Tell us a little about your family, immediate and/or extended.
I have a huge, loving extended family, with more than 30 first cousins alone! My father has served in the Marine Corps as a pilot, and my mother works in medicine. My 19-year-old little brother Michael just graduated from high school and is now attending boot camp in Parris Island, following his sense of vocation to be a Marine like Dad.
What are your hobbies, interests, pursuits outside of work?
I love to read, hike, be outside in the garden and cook – I delight in cooking anything, and especially baking bread. You’ll usually catch me at night watching “Parks and Recreation” or a BBC period drama of some sort with my three pups.
What are your goals five years, 10 years from now?
I can honestly say I don’t know. But I feel lucky to not have a plan, and to be wide open to whatever God calls me.
In the next few days, we’ll be posting profiles of all four of our ESC interns at this site. Come back to find out more!