Kept in America
Refugees and a Non-Traditional Seminarian
By Angela Crosland
It’s a name straight out of DC or Marvel Comics’ long line of superheroes, but there is nothing comical about the life seminarian Katie Justice leads. She is changing the face of homelessness and giving sight to the blind by way of ministry.
She’s doing it all as a senior in the Master of Arts in Christian Ministry program at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary (LTSS) of Lenoir-Rhyne in Columbia. Justice will have completed the educational and formational requirements for The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) students desirous of becoming an Associate in Ministry, serving in Diaconal Ministry or as a Deaconess in May of 2018. It’s a non-traditional twist for a seminarian but so too is the work she has been called to do.
“I’m on the deacon track,” says Justice. “It’s more focused on Word and Service, and I’m very passionate about trying to connect the church and the world, trying to remind the church this is why we do our service.”
Her service to the homeless has caused some to veer away from characterizing the displaced as exclusively victims of domestic violence or those with mental illness or addictions. Homelessness rears its head as the single mom working to make a better life for her children or the object of job downsizing and plant closure, says Justice. It recently emerged in her life during her field education at Lutheran Services Carolinas (LSC) in the form of refugees.
LTSS finds housing for people from across the world who have suffered persecution in their homelands. Working closely with the local community and faith-based organizations, LSC offers aid to vulnerable refugees and supports their transition into a new life and culture. Given the passing of a recent refugee ban in the United States that has since been rescinded, they were more fearful than ever, says Justice.
“And I think a lot of people, if they actually got to know who the refugees were and just sit and talk with them, would understand that they are just like us, and they just want a better life,” she says. “They didn’t have a choice in what happened in their life. They did not choose to become refugees. To be safe, they had to flee.”
Justice views this latest endeavor as an assignment and a ministry.
“And so for people to be scared that they’re terrorists and stuff like that,” she adds. “I want to help educate people in understanding that no they’re not.”
Working at LSC fulfills her field education requirement at LTSS. Facilitating the transition for refugees and opening the eyes of understanding around the issue are her ministry.
Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary (LTSS) is on a mission to teach, form, and nurture women and men for public ministry in a Christ-centered culture, faithfully Lutheran and ecumenically committed. To support LTSS, please go to pay.lr.edu/ltss.