JCE Internship Begins in Washington, D.C.

October 2, 2018
Katelyn Kenney

I’ve never lived outside of Texas.

More specifically, I’ve never lived outside of the Greater Houston area. So imagine the deluge of emotion – the excitement, nerves, confusion, stress, joy – I felt when I made the move to Washington, D.C. for the start of my second year as the Julia Chester Emery Intern.

I’ve been in D.C. for a little over two weeks, now serving in the Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations. I’m definitely still adjusting to some pretty big changes from my life in Texas, but everyone I’ve met here has been generous and accommodating, not unlike the hospitality I’m familiar with back home.

The Office of Government Relations is a small office on Capitol Hill with big responsibilities: build connections with the people of Congress in order to promote and advance the positions of The Episcopal Church as illustrated in the General Convention resolutions and Executive Council resolves.

You might be wondering, how can the Church be involved on Capitol Hill? What about separation of church and state? Churches shouldn’t be involved in politics! So let’s clarify some myths.

The separation of church and state is a key piece of keeping our democracy from becoming a theocracy while also making sure churches are nonpartisan (not to be confused with non-political). Keeping these institutions separate actually gives faith-based advocates more freedom to speak on the wishes of the church without “picking a side,” and their separation doesn’t preclude the church from ever entering the political sphere. As a country rooted in religious freedom, which includes people of non-faith, we have a right as much as any other advocacy group to voice the opinions of The Episcopal Church to Congress.

During my time in the office, I’ll be working most closely with our domestic policy advisor because I’m interested in issues involving social justice and the environment, but since our office is comprised of a handful of people, I’ll have chances to collaborate with my other coworkers as well. I’m hoping the next couple weeks will clarify whether I’m more drawn to behind-the-scenes research or church-facing communications and messaging.

I’m always amazed, but not necessarily surprised, at how my journey with UTO, a ministry rooted in gratitude, continues to lead me to opportunities for which I feel immensely grateful. My mentors have been, and continue to be, so gracious with me as I try to figure out where I’m being called by God. I’m grateful I’ve been given the space to grow and learn and discover my passions because that’s not the kind of thing that happens overnight, and I’m looking forward to exploring this new city while I stand at the intersection of public policy and private, personal faith.