I’m back, after a very good, but tiring week in Rapid City. We had training every day, visited a JC center on Wed., and just generally crammed a lot of knowledge into our heads in a short period of time. I have to say that this training is the first job training where I’ve come out of it feeling like I know exactly how to do my job.

I also learned a lot this week. One of our goals is to recruit more Native Americans to JC. I don’t have a good reason, but I never realized exactly how many reservations there are in SD. I was also completely unaware of the living conditions on them, and of the fact that the lowest income counties in the nation are right here in SD–on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

So I googled it, and found this photo essay. It’s haunting.

I reserved some library books about Pine Ridge, hoping to understand better, and picked them up yesterday. I started reading the first, Keeping Heart on Pine Ridge, and
this is a paragraph from the first page:

People out there in the American world don’t know how pitiful America’s First Citizens really are. It’s amazing how many of the alert, intelligent, open-minded, forward-thinking, well-intentioned, fortunate sons and daughters just two states away have no idea we’re here.

It’s true. I had no idea they were there. But now I do, and I’m learning.

I also found myself thinking for the first time ever the the military might be a good option for some students. When we were visiting the JC center we had the opportunity to talk with some kids, and I found myself wanting so badly for them to succeed. Looking at their situations, and for some of them their aptitude, the military started to look like hope. I had no idea I would ever feel that way. Now I do, and I’m learning.

This week was also the first week of the new members class at the church I’m attending (my church?). It’s a Presbyterian church (PCUSA), not somewhere I thought I would be. I really didn’t have any intention to leave the CRC, and I still love it, but it doesn’t seem like a fit for me here. I don’t want to go to church angry, and both of the CRCs here so far have made me feel pretty angry.

So the church I’m attending isn’t where I thought I would be, but I like it. They just got a new pastor, and are going through a time of articulating (re-articulating?) their mission and purpose in the community. It’s an encouraging place, and a place where I feel like I can get involved. And I like their worship service…it leaves me encouraged, not angry.

But I’m curious, and maybe my readers can help…are there big differences between the CRC and the PCUSA? I’ve tried to research it a bit, and it seems so far like mostly their positions on social issues, but I’d like to learn more. There’s maybe less of a focus on sin in the PCUSA…

They did give me the Presbyterian Handbook, a tongue-in-cheek explanation of Presbyterianism. It gives three questions to ask of a salad you are bringing to a Presbyterian function. They are: 1) Is this dish mostly meat-free? 2) Can this dish be served with a spoon or salad tongs? 3) Can it be served chilled? If the answer is yes, it’s a salad. 🙂

Does anyone know more about differences between the CRC and PCUSA denominations?


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