There’s a lovely article in Glencoe News about Noah Hillerbrand, a young, lay Episcopalian, who has just begun working with the Diocese of Renk in South Sudan:

After the family joined Christ Episcopal, Hillerbrand became even more deeply involved in that community. It was his dad Eric who first suggested he meet with Bishop Joseph last fall, when he made one of his many trips to Chicago.

“My first thought was that it sounded really cool, but I thought I’d probably find something else to do,” Hillerbrand said. “But when I asked Bishop Joseph what I could do there, right away he said, ‘Teach English.’ There was no hesitation, and he said he could find plenty for me to do. That was when I felt this was something important.”

I’m particularly delighted that he found my book, Grace at the Garbage Dump, so helpful as he prepared for his time in Renk:

Hillerbrand finds inspiration from a book by Episcopal priest Jesse Zink, who served for two years in a South Africa slum neighborhood’s medical clinic.

The book Zink wrote about his experience ”really spoke to me,” Hillerbrand explained. “When he first arrived, he didn’t know the language, he wasn’t trained to do anything at the clinic. He had to be content with being with these people. He called it a ministry of presence. Realizing the ministry of presence is something that I’ve kind of trained my trip around.”

You can follow Noah’s work on the Facebook page he has set up for his trip,

When we shift our focus in the Anglican Communion away from bishops, it’s amazing what kind of stories we find.

“Honest, reflective journal…”

John Bowen reviewed my book, Grace at the Garbage Dump, in a recent issue of The Living Church. You have to subscribe to read the whole thing, but here’s a tiny excerpt.

Grace at the Garbage Dump is the honest, reflective journal of one young American, seeking to make a difference for Christ in the world, and learning basic lessons of discipleship—humility, servanthood, risk-taking, patience, love, and the value of small things.

Don’t subscribe to The Living Church? You should. It’s a great place to read about the ideas and debates that are shaping contemporary Anglicanism.

And—completely unbeknownst to me—the same issue of The Living Church carried my review of two recent books by the Presiding Bishop—and questioned what Nike’s “Just Do It” slogan has to say to The Episcopal Church.

World AIDS Day

On this World AIDS Day, I think of my all the people I know and knew with HIV/AIDS when I worked in Itipini, a shantytown community in South Africa.

In particular, I remember my friend, Pakama, whom I spoke about at a World AIDS Day service last year.

My friend Pakama lives in a place called Itipini, a shantytown community built on the landfill of small city in South Africa, the country with more HIV-positive people than any other in the world. I worked in a clinic in Itipini and when Pakama first came there three years ago, she was weak, gaunt, and emaciated. Her collar bones poked through her shirt. She had AIDS and tuberculosis.

I helped her navigate the complex health system, looking for the right combination of drugs to treat her diseases. I knew anti-retroviral therapy for AIDS was incredibly effective but I wasn’t sure Pakama was healthy enough to make it through the system in time. She lost the energy to walk and I had to lift her in and out of the car and carry her to appointments. She lay in bed in her shack the rest of the day. Each morning, as I drove to Itipini, I mentally prepared myself to hear the news that she had died the night before. In those weeks of traveling through the health care system with Pakama, her brother and aunt, both of whom were HIV-positive, died of the disease. I didn’t have much hope Pakama would be different.

(Read the rest of that story here.)

And I hope that in his second term, President Obama will reverse his first-term policies and make a serious commitment to the cause of HIV/AIDS.

Episcopal Journal review of Grace at the Garbage Dump

Episcopal Journal has a two-page spread in its September issue about my book, Grace at the Garbage Dump: Making Sense of Mission in the Twenty-First Century.

Since EJ is first and foremost a print publication, it can be hard to read its excellent articles online. But I’ve got permission to post the two pages dealing with Grace. You can read them by clicking on these links. (You’ll get .pdf files when you do.)

“God’s grace can be discovered in unexpected places,” Episcopal Journal, September 2012, p. 13

Episcopal Journal, September 2012, p. 14

Do you subscribe to Episcopal Journal? It’s a wonderful publication and an important example of the kind of thing we need in the church if we’re ever going to understand one another a bit better.

One article, two great books!

Yale Divinity School’s monthly newsletter has an article that features not only my book, but that of my friend and fellow writer, Stephen Register:

In the spring of 2011, Stephen Register ’11 M. Div. and Jesse Zink ’12 M.Div. had only an academic course in common. Now they share more than a line on their transcripts: both turned writing projects that they started in Lauren Winner’s Institute of Sacred Music workshop “Spiritual Autobiography” into published books.

“The class,” Register said, “was essential for bringing my voice to a place where I finally felt comfortable writing.” Before the seminar, Register said that as a writer he was “like a young filly, who just hadn’t found [her] legs.”

Zink echoed that description, calling the workshop “one of the most memorable courses I took at Yale.”…

The support they felt as students continued as authors when both returned to New Haven in April for a lunchtime reading and book signing that emptied the shelves of the Student Book Supply.

“It was surreal,” Register said, “Coming back and having folks turn up meant the world, but it wasn’t much of a surprise: the same friends and teachers that had been faithful to me during school were right there for me as a writer.”

Have you seen Stephen’s book yet? It’s available for (a surprisingly inexpensive) download on Amazon.

All the ordering information about Grace at the Garbage Dump is right here on this web site.

On display

My post about seeing my book on display in Toronto prompted a friend to send this picture. Grace at the Garbage Dump on display in the library of the University of New Brunswick, St. John. There it is, right there in the middle of things.Is Grace at the Garbage Dump in your library? You can check WorldCat to see what libraries have it (quite a few—including one in New Zealand!—already do). If not, why not request your library order a copy?

Back by popular demand…

We had so much fun signing copies of my new book, Grace at the Garbage Dump, on Sunday that we’re doing it again today.

It’s the last day the exhibit hall is open at General Convention. So if you’re in Indianapolis, swing by the Global Episcopal Mission Network booth—#629, it fronts on the food area—and pick up a copy.

You can also learn all about the new study guide for the book and ways in which you can take all the rhetoric of mission that is swirling around Convention and turn it into reality in your local congregation and diocese.

Candidate for President of House of Deputies Martha Alexander took a break from campaigning to stop by on Sunday. You should too!

Check out some of the great reviews of Grace at the Garbage Dump or read the first chapter for free on Amazon. You’ll realize what an asset this book can be as you head back home from Convention.

Turning mission rhetoric into reality: preview of this afternoon’s study guide launch

Just in time for today’s launch of the Grace at the Garbage Dump study guide at the Episcopal Church’s General Convention, there’s a great article in Center Aisle about the book, its genesis, and what we talk about when we talk about mission in the Episcopal Church.

“I have always loved stories,” he says. “Hearing them, telling them, sharing them. I returned from Itipini with the conviction that the stories of people like those who live in Itipini are not being told. I was also convinced that if we are going to move forward in addressing the problems of global poverty, we need to actually know about one another around the world, how we live and the challenges we face.”…

After publishing his book, Zink created a study guide “as a tool for groups to use as they think about how they can be involved in God’s mission.” The study guide can be downloaded for free at “God is calling everyone to a role in God’s mission,” he says. “Discerning just what that role is is a holy and important task.”

Read the rest of the article here.

In Indianapolis? Stop by for two minutes or twenty tomorrow to pick up a copy of the book, learn about the study guide, or chat about what mission means to you. We’ll be at the Global Episcopal Mission Network booth (#629—you’ve got to go past the food booths). At previous signings, we’ve run out of books pretty quickly so we’ve got extra on hand for tomorrow. But we’re selling them for the special Convention-only price of $15 (30% below what Amazon will sell it you for) so they might go quickly.

See you there!

Turning Mission Rhetoric into Congregational Reality: New Study Guide

“Mission” is the buzzword of this year’s Episcopal General Convention. It’s already a buzzword in mainline Protestant denominations.

But how can churches across the country put that mission rhetoric into reality? What does it mean for a congregation to discern its role in God’s mission?

The new Study Guide and Mission Resource for Grace at the Garbage Dump: Making Sense of Mission in the Twenty-First Century is designed to help Christians put the rhetoric of mission into reality. Designed to be used with youth groups, mission/outreach committees, book study groups, and adult education forums, the Study Guide features overviews and summaries of each section of the book, questions for conversation and discussion, links to further resources, and much, more more. And it’s entirely free.

Download the Study Guide for free at Copy it, distribute it, and use it as a resource to help your congregation find out what God is calling you to… whether just down the street or halfway around the world.

If you’re in Indianapolis for General Convention, stop by the official launch of the study guide. Hosted by the Global Episcopal Mission Network (Booth #629) on Sunday, July 8 from 2pm to 3pm, come by for two or twenty minutes to buy a copy of the book (at a special Convention only rate), ask questions about the guide, and learn more about how to involve your congregation with mission. More information is in this press release.

Read all about what people are saying about the book—and how they are commending it as a resource for congregational study—by clicking over to the reviews page.

Questions? Comments? Contact the author directly. jessezink [at] gmail [dot] com or on Twitter @jazink.

Again, you can download the study guide for free at