Search PNC News for stories of people and churches in our UCC Conference:

Young Adults are ready for year of service

Justice leadership interns begin at four sites

Four young adult interns are diving into a year of service and learning with the Justice Leadership Program (JLP) of the Pacific Northwest Conference.  It is third year in which interns will advocate and organize for faith-inspired justice with partner agencies and UCC churches.

The interns are living in intentional community in an apartment at All Pilgrims Christian Church on Capitol Hill. 

“They have created a covenant for their community and been commissioned to serve at their UCC partner churches,” said Elizabeth Dickinson, JLP program manager.

“They have already attended City Council meetings, registered people to vote and accompanied people without homes in learning to advocate effectively with policy makers,” she said.


Hillary Coleman
Photos courtesy of Elizabeth Dickinson

As the interns began their 11 months of working with nonprofits doing justice, they had orientations in Seattle with their agency sites, Church Council of Greater Seattle, Faith Action Network, Seattle King County Coalition on Homelessness and Washington Low Income Housing Alliance.

The three host churches in which they will serve in leadership positions are All Pilgrims, Keystone UCC and Plymouth UCC in Seattle.

They work with Justice Leadership Program staff, the Rev. Rich Gamble, Lauren Cannon and Elizabeth.

Fall classes with the program begin in October.  They will meet weekly with PNC church members and friends in classes to study the intersection of faith and justice.

The interns will also attend The People’s Institute Northwest’s workshop, Undoing Racism in November.

The new interns are Amber Dickson, who will serve with Keystone and the Faith Action Network (FAN); Hillary Coleman, who will work with All Pilgrims Christian  andSeattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness (SKCCH); Emmanuel Mancilla, who will work with Plymouth and the Church Council of Greater Seattle (CCGS), and Honah Thompson who serves with Plymouth and the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance.

amber dickson

Amber Dickson

The 2014-15 interns come from varied backgrounds.

Amber attended Seattle Pacific University, graduating with a degree in psychology. While there, she was an academic mentor for college freshmen and a tutor for the general psychology course. These experiences and others have shaped her desire for education reform as well as making higher education more accessible.

She believes this year will be an opportunity to gain practical skills for working towards these changes in education.

Through working with FAN, she seeks to expand her awareness of the issues and policies that impact Washington State.

“I also hope to restore my belief that faith communities can produce great works. The Faith Action Network is a example of doing just that,” said Amber, who anticipates exploring her faith through Keystone UCC.

emmanuel mancilla

Emmanuel Mancilla

Emmanuel is looking forward to living in the lively area of Capitol Hill and being part of conversations on justice advocacy issues in Seattle.

He grew up in Tacoma and recently graduated from Seattle Pacific University (SPU) with a major in sociology and minor in theological reconciliation.

At SPU, he was involved in intercultural initiatives and student government as vice president of Intercultural Affairs.  He was president of the Latino Club, worked on creating SPU’s first Reconciliation Summit, and was involved in both the Multi Ethnic Programs and the John Perkins Center for leadership in community development.

“My hope is to gain a better understanding of how to preach a Gospel that is stronger than race, economic standing and skin color,” he said, pointing out that civil rights activist John Perkins urged preaching a reconciled gospel.

honah thompson

Honah Johnson

Hillary grew up in Lake Forest Park and spent much of her time in Seattle while participating in the life of University Congregational UCC.

She recently completed a double major in psychology and Hispanic studies at Connecticut College, where she also earned a certificate from a three-year program that focused on Public Policy and Community Action.

Hillary has a passion to work with others to create positive change.  She believes in making sure that all community members are involved in policy creation, decision and implementation.

She learned about effective public policy while working with the Statewide Poverty Action Network last summer, where she was able to mobilize voters as well as support the SPEAK (Sharing Personal Experience as Knowledge) program, which fosters dialogue between state and local representatives and the people affected by policies voted on in Olympia.

“I hope to continue to learn how to maintain and further such relationships in policy making by collaborating with SKCCH and its member organizations to carry out their mission of ensuring safety and survival for people who are homeless and to end the crisis of homelessness in our region,” she said.

Honah is using the internship to fill her gap year after undergraduate studies. She seeks an opportunity that will allow for continued participation in community while doing meaningful work.

reunion for jlp

The 2014-15 spiritual sojourner is Sam Rennebohm of Prospect UCC, Seattle.  As a stipended volunteer, he leads a weekly reflection time.  Pictured left to right are Alison Eisinger, director  of the Coalition on Homelessness, Denise Rodriguez of the Housing Alliance, and JLP staff Lauren Cannon.                                                       
Photo courtesy of Margaret Irribarra

She said she found that and more in this program that offers spiritual sojourning, justice leadership classes, church service at Plymouth Church, and an internship at the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance.

A native of Santa Rosa, Calif., she recently graduated from Chapman University with a bachelor’s in sociology and religious studies with an emphasis in social work.

The 2013-14 interns are now on to new ventures.

Briana Frenchmore recently joined Plymouth Church and the Church Council of Greater Seattle, where she organized immigration and living-wage education and action programs last year through the Justice Leadership Program.

She is working as a bilingual paralegal with Bishop Legal, a small law firm in Normandy Park. There she helps clients, who have had personal injuries—many are Spanish-speakers or low-income—to recover just settlements for medical treatment. 

“This past year allowed me see the potential that Christian community has in offering an alternative vision for how we structure our societies: a world where all have enough and where we live together in cooperation instead of competition,” she said.  “I appreciated opportunities to learn of examples from Jewish and Christian communities throughout history that offer models and compel us to be agents to change unjust systems.”

A meaningful part of her year was working with members of congregations to display banners that advocated “A Living Wage For All.” The banners represent a congregation’s commitment to engage in education and advocacy for a living wage, she said. Congregations are looking at their own living wage practices and engaged in advocacy in the public sphere. During June, 14 congregations in eight denominations lifted banners onto their houses of worship.

Karin Frank is currently in Nashville at Vanderbilt University Divinity School, where she is finishing her master’s degree in religious studies and focusing on the intersection of ethics and public policy. Her year interning with Earth Ministry/Washington Interfaith Power and Light convinced her that she is considering environmental policy work.

“What a year! From my second day on the job, testifying at the Longview coal export hearing to touring a wheat farm in Ritzville, lobbying in Olympia, bringing people together around Earth Day at our ‘Many Faiths, One World’ event at Seattle University, building our new website and testifying at the BP Cherry Point Refinery hearing in Seattle, my time here has been well spent!” she said.

Margie Quinn is the operations manager at Facing Homelessness, a nonprofit in Seattle that seeks to remove negative stereotypes around homelessness. Through art, photo-journalism, storytelling and community support, Facing Homelessness raises awareness for those living without basic shelter. This fall, Margie is also visiting local faith communities to discern the next step in her faith journey.

“A year ago, I moved from Nashville, Tenn., to Seattle.  I was fresh from undergraduate studies, where I had learned to theorize and analyze the injustices in our communities,” Margie said.  “I had never advocated for these issues myself. The Housing Alliance showed me how to act out and speak up for issues that ignite me.  I registered to vote, and voted three times this year.”

She also helped facilitate sessions of the first-ever Emerging Advocates Program. From this, she learned how vital it is to build connections with folks affected by homelessness in order to understand the depth of the complexities of issues they face.

“I co-planned an interfaith panel for Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day, and I co-facilitated a storytelling workshop at the Conference on Ending Homelessness,” she added.

Interns helped their hosts.

At All Pilgrims Christian, Margie helped develop an evening worship service called Night Song, participated in weekly Community Suppers for the surrounding community, and was an integral part of leading worship.

At Keystone, Karin developed an environmental advocacy curriculum for children.

At Plymouth, Briana organized an education series on immigration and helped spark congregational involvement in the living wage campaign.

Elizabeth invites all PNC churches to ask the JLP staff about starting young adult internship programs in their communities.

For information, call 206-320-0432, email or visit


Copyright October 2014 © Pacific Northwest United Church of Christ Conference News


Share this article on your favorite social media Bookmark and Share