City Mission’s Urban Pastoral Ministry Program is a two year residency for recent seminary graduates who are called to ordained urban ministry. The residents are placed in one of the four Boston partner churches and have the opportunity to gain experience in worship, administration, outreach in an urban congregation, mentorship from experienced ministers, and opportunities for leadership.
Meet Jana Dye, our UPMP resident at First Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain.
Q: Tell us your call to pastoral ministry.
Jana: I grew up going to church and I made foundational relationships and many meaningful experiences there. I had different spiritual mentors early on suggest ministry as a career path but I resisted throughout most of my youth and college years. Nevertheless, the calling persisted and my spirit felt led to go to Divinity School at Wake Forest University where I was gifted with the experience of classmates, professors, and mentors who showed me what it truly meant to live out a call of pastoral ministry that works for good, demands justice, and practices full and inclusive hospitality. I accepted the call then and haven't looked back since!
Q: How is UPMP an important part of your journey?
Jana: I feel incredibly privileged and grateful to have been trusted with the opportunity of being a part of UPMP. During my years of Divinity school, I was lucky enough to serve in a congregational position in North Carolina, as well as a non profit role in the urban context of New York City. I enjoyed both ministry contexts so much that, as graduation approached, I was contemplating opportunities that would allow me to combine both of my passions. In this way, the UPMP was an answered prayer. It is a chance for me to serve alongside the incredible congregation of the First Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain as well as the staff and community of City Mission. I am ecstatic to spend the next two years learning from and with the great people I will encounter in my church and nonprofit settings, as well as the community of this great city known as Boston!
Q: What is unique about the community you are serving at your resident church?
Jana: The First Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain is a vibrant and thriving community that has been around since 1842. Led by the incredible Rev. Ashlee Wiest-Laird and a dedicated ministerial/administrative staff, FBCJP is a place of hospitality and welcome to all people. The congregation and leaders alike are dedicated to following Christ's call to be agents of justice, peace, and love in the world. As well as being a community of support for their own church family, FBCJP speaks up for the rights of all people in their local community and those around the world who are oppressed or suffering. I am truly excited to be a part of the inspiring work that is being done here.
Q: What strengths and skills are you bringing to the community?
Jana: The most important role of a pastoral leader is to be a visible presence of support, comfort, and accountability. In the next two years I plan on using and further developing my pastoral skills of compassionate listening and ministerial care to the communities I serve. I hope to use my knowledge of biblical interpretation and social systems to interpret the Christian faith in a way that is redemptive, supportive, and life giving. And, finally, I hope to be an agent of justice that is able to lead but can also step back to support and let others lead as necessary.
Q: What issues face the urban communities you serve, and how do you hope to make a positive impact during your residency?
Jana: As cities continue to grow and change, there are often groups of people who are purposely left out in the decision making processes that go along with these growths and changes. Poverty, housing insecurity, and an overall lack of opportunity are problems faced by many individuals in the Boston community with women, folks of color, and those born into low income status being especially affected. Over the next two years, I am excited to be able to contribute to the work being done by my congregation and by City Mission to provide practical and pastoral support to those feeling the most severe effects of systemic issues such as gentrification and economic oppression that plagues Boston and a growing number of large cities across this country.
Q: What program at City Mission Boston is the most meaningful to you and how do you see it benefiting the community you are working with as a UPMP resident?
Jana: I felt very energized and inspired when hearing from coworkers who assist in City Mission's Lift UP program. It is a program that not only works to accommodate the most basic needs of mothers and children who are housing insecure, but it creates an extensive curriculum that helps individuals create opportunities and advocate for themselves. I can see the immensely positive impact it can create within this community by giving some of it's most vulnerable members the tools and knowledge that make them able to live independent and fulfilling lives. As with the body of Christ, we are all, as a community, at our best when every member is happy, healthy, and thriving.