Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply?

Apply to NYSJC through the Episcopal Service Corps by clicking here:

When do I apply?

Applications for the 2017-18 program year will be accepted as of Thursday, December 1st, 2016.  We welcome your inquiries.

I am not a United States citizen. Am I eligible?

Meeting visa requirements can be very difficult, especially pertaining to one-year commitments like NYSJC. Applicants need to have guaranteed clearance to work in the United States of America.

How do Fellows spend their time? How much free time is there?

Fellows serve full-time at their Placement sites, and our program year runs from the last week of August through mid-August of the following year. The NYSJC year includes an Orientation and four Retreats, which take place in beautiful, restful and inspiring locations. Fellows receive whatever holidays/sick time the Placement site agency grants, and ordinarily also ten personal/vacation days, scheduled in cooperation with NYSJC and the Placement site. We understand that most professional positions entail some overtime. We ask our Placement sites to ensure that overtime doesn’t exceed 10-15 hours a month on average.

Fellows are engaged in community-building and spiritually formative activities a few evenings a week and some weekend days, with clergy, congregational leaders, community mentors and NYSJC staff. Fellows also participate in worship and outreach activities based in both church and neighborhood. In addition to group activities, Fellows have one-to-one meetings with NYSJC staff to discuss and explore their experiences and observations.

Regarding their intentional community, Fellows collaborate on dinners, community meetings, shared spirituality and worship, and group outings.  It is integral to NYSJC’s learning goals that Fellows have the freedom and support to explore New York City’s amazing range of events and opportunities. Nevertheless, NYSJC is not a program for people primarily looking for a convenient way to spend a year in New York City. The NYSJC year makes serious demands on Fellows’ time, energy and attention – and it is designed to deeply engage their hearts, minds and spirits!

How are Placement sites chosen?

We suggest matches based on the applicant’s goals and experience, and arrange an interviews with the prospective Placement site, by phone or Skype if the applicant can’t travel to NYC. This Placement site interview is also an opportunity for the applicant to ask questions and explore that prospective position.

Do I have to be Episcopalian? Am I expected to proselytize?

No. We accept applicants of all faiths and uncertain or no faith. NYSJC is based in an active and vibrant Harlem church; we are looking for Fellows who will derive meaning and inspiration from that context.

Many of our Placement sites have no religious affiliation. St. Mary’s is a multi-racial, multi-cultural, and multi-lingual congregation, host to an extraordinary array of community action and expression. Fellows share in this abundance and opportunity, to learn about how faith animates and sustains the fight for justice and human dignity. The meaning an Fellow derives from the entire year’s experience is guided and shaped by the Fellow’s own values.

What are NYSJC’s religious practices?

The opportunity to share in the parish life of St. Mary’s is foundational to NYSJC. St. Mary’s has a historic record of working for justice, inspired and upheld by faith and shared life in the Holy Spirit. NYSJC Fellows come home to a community that is striving to enact a vision of God’s kingdom through the everyday miracles of caring and outreach.

Fellows are required to attend St. Mary’s Sunday morning worship once a month, and are welcome to participate in any and all faith, spiritual, social, educational and political activities at the parish. In addition, spiritual practices are woven into all NYSJC meetings. These diverse activities help Fellows discern their own call to service.

Spirituality is further deepened through weekly spiritual practice led by and shared among the Fellows, communal dinners, theological reflections and explorations of diverse religious traditions through the lens of social justice, field trips, retreats, sharing stories and dinner with parish members at Peace of Pizza, and attending Wednesday evening services at allied Episcopal parishes in Harlem throughout Lent. In addition, several events each year connect NYSJC Fellows with other young adults serving in similar programs throughout the region.

NYSJC works with a network of experienced spiritual directors. Every NYSJC Fellow can be matched with an experienced spiritual director for regular meetings.

What is intentional community?

NYSJC is founded on the idea that deeply-considered engagement in diverse relationships is the basis for life-changing growth. That begins in the Fellow apartments, as individuals get to know each other and work collaboratively to create a home. Fellows live together thoughtfully, and share the joys as well as the challenges of being together.

As might be expected, people who start out as strangers do not instantaneously become friends. Every year NYSJC consists of deep, sincere individuals engaged in a process of learning about others and themselves. Meaningful, trustworthy community emerges from a willingness to be surprised and transformed as the year’s experiences are shared.

To foster this, the year includes an array of supportive and formational activities, designed to deepen Fellows’ understanding and also lift up the blessings and gifts within and among us.

What is it like to live in Harlem?

Harlem is a neighborhood of contrasts. Perhaps the best way to depict it here is to describe what you would see upon traveling to St. Mary’s. You would get out of the 1 train (“the Broadway local”) at the125th Street stop. After leaving the subway, if you look to the south you will see the stately, beautiful buildings of Columbia University and Riverside Church. In front of you are enormous brick apartment buildings of a public housing project. Just to the north you will see a massive construction site – evidence of Columbia University’s “gentrifying” expansion into Harlem.   125th Street itself is Harlem’s “Main Street.” Along 125th Street and its side streets, within a 3-block walk you will see a check-cashing place and large banks, a supermarket and small bodegas, hardware stores, the MLK pharmacy, barber shops and beauty salons, 99-cent stores and prominent retail chains, storefront churches, a day-care center, a public library, a fire station, a post office, an assisted-living shelter, fast food restaurants, a pizzeria, a taco joint, a Columbia University neighborhood outreach storefront and a live chicken market.

If you walk one block north to 126th Street, you will see another large public housing project on the corner. Make a right down that street. On the way to St. Mary’s you will pass a city health clinic and then a beautiful playground with bright green jungle-gyms and a sprinkler in the summer. Across the street, there is a large police station, and next to that an AIDS Residence and Day Program founded by St. Mary’s. Further down the street are a public swimming pool and a handball court.

In the middle of the block is St. Mary’s: a yellow clapboard house attached to an old brick church, surrounded by trees. There’s a garden out front, with picnic tables that on most days are piled with clothes for an ongoing, informal used-clothing exchange, and a small Urban Farm around back.

St. Mary’s is a center for community service and support seven days a week, addressing diverse and pressing needs. Folks are often sitting on the steps outside and hanging out. This is the St. Mary’s community ~ people helping each other, and the bonds of fellowship and faith that form as a result. If you’re in the neighborhood, please stop by and say hi.