I saw Scripture and worship as a place to fight the despair and cynicism that can well up when you encounter the powerful and malevolent systems of our society.
I’m wondering if there is a confluence of the ELCA’s need for diversity, community organizing, and my call to ministry.
Student Profile: Toby Chow
“I got involved in community organizing and Augustana Lutheran church simultaneously,” Toby Chow says.
A philosophy Ph.D. candidate at the University of Chicago (all but dissertation), Chow started going to meetings of Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation (SOUL). He liked what he experienced.
“They have a method to be effective. I was impressed that SOUL and other groups on the southside were trying to get an agreement from Wal-Mart to pay a livable wage and to hire from the community where they planned to build a new store. I’d always heard the Wal-Mart is a tough opponent.”
Community organizers pushed Chow to speak at public meetings. “I never would have done that before,” he says.
The work also exposed him to disparities that are difficult to see. “As I got involved in organizing I saw disinvestment and social dislocation. I also had to go to City Hall and Springfield and I saw how out of touch people in power are. . . It’s tough to see that up close. Increasingly, I saw Scripture and worship as a place to fight the despair and cynicism that can well up when you encounter the powerful and malevolent systems of our society.”
Chow is in the M.Div. program, but right now he’s not sure what the future holds. “I’m wondering if there is a confluence of the ELCA’s need for diversity, community organizing, and my call to ministry.”
Chow received a Hope Scholarship designed for students who are the first in their family to be an ELCA pastor.