The Faces of City of Soul: Raina James Workman

Raina James Workman will be based at Church of the Holy Communion and work at the Metropolitan Interfaith-Association (MIFA).

Hometown: Wooster, Ohio – although I’ve mostly been stationed in Marlboro, Vt. for the past four years.

School(s)/degree(s): History/medieval studies, Marlboro College

Previous professional life:

For my last two years of college I worked as a student assistant librarian for the Rice-Aron Library. I really loved my job, and enjoyed the collaborative nature of the library environment. I’m currently employed for the summer in the reference services/PR department for my local library.

How did you find out about Episcopal Service Corps?

I discovered a few of the Episcopal Service Corps programs through a search engine provided by the Catholic Volunteer Network. I was looking for different opportunities that were one-year, service-based intentional communities.

What compelled you to apply and to decide to spend a year with ESC?

Coming out of a four-year degree, I was ready to work for a while and focus on something besides school. It’s a huge priority for me to remain engaged in social issues, and spending a year in service with ESC seemed to be a rewarding and accessible way to do so.

What do you see in Memphis? Why did the City of Soul project appeal to, or resonate with you?

A friend of mine, native to Memphis, told me that “Memphis is great, and incredibly vibrant, but it’s also a city in the process of healing itself.” There is such a rich history to Memphis, in terms of music and culture, but also in the Civil Rights movement. From what I’ve come to learn about the city, citizens of Memphis work extraordinarily hard to maintain their community. It’s exciting for me to be involved in their work and learn from their commitment, even if for only a year.

Why is ministry important to you, and how have you been involved in ministry in your life?

I firmly believe there is a spiritual imperative to work for social justice, so while I haven’t been the most involved with a church this past year, I have taken part in public discussions regarding rape culture on college campuses and have done my best to be a faithful ally to the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Borrowing James Cone’s words, “to think biblically is to think in the interest of the liberating interest of the oppressed.” To the extent that I think about ministry, I see it as the action Christians must take to make real the compassionate justice exemplified by Jesus Christ in our communities and the world at large.

Who has inspired you the most and why?

Ah! This is a difficult question. I would say a variety of people and resources. Regarding service, I would say a lot of the talented peers I worked with on student government.

If you could name one moment in your life that changed it completely and most significantly, what would that moment be?

When I left the church at 17. I grew up in a very small, conservative evangelical community. It was absolutely vital for me to take the time to wrestle with God and faith in general. It made my faith stronger and more rewarding.

What’s the most recent book you’ve read?

The Gender of History: Men, Women, and Historical Practice by Bonnie G. Smith

Tell us a little about your family, immediate and/or extended.

It’s just me and my mother! We share a small house together in Northern Ohio.

What are your hobbies, interests, pursuits outside of work?

I love to read, and write occasionally. Beyond that, it’s lots of “granny” hobbies. Knitting, crocheting, etc. Because of my previous professional experience, I do have an ongoing interest in information science and public access to educational tools. If annoying my cat endlessly counts, I would also consider that a long-standing hobby.

What are your goals five years, ten years from now?

I’d hopefully have an advanced degree of some kind and a career related to non-profit work or ministry. Hopefully, I’d get to revisit Turkey and see a little bit more of the world. Anything is possible, really!

Posted by Cara Modisett at 2:30 AM
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