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A Voice of the Next Generation: Xeres Villanueva

July 10, 2016

When I started scheduling a visit to Park Hills Community Church, I did not know what to expect exactly when I thought about setting foot into the church. I knew I would learn something from the visit. Thoughts like ‘I hope to make a good impression’ ran in my mind. I thought it would be a chill and amazing time to get to know the church and meet with Pastor Larry Dove.  I also thought it will be near downtown Los Angeles.

During my first visit, I experienced so much love, joy, care and passion. As a first visitor, I was asked to introduce myself and people applauded. Introducing myself in a crowd is often my comfort zone so it is good that it is a loving group. I find the practice of members blessing each other with hugs and through verbalizing words of welcome and love like “God loves you” is deeply energizing, connecting and intimate.  It made me think of how authentic closeness and touch is not a big part in a lot of church culture. It is also made me got to a train of thought on the importance of the consent as well regarding making sure that physical affection is wanted and boundaries are respected without shaming physical affection. 

I also observed that I am one of the few young adults in the services, which an observation to notice. I realized during and after the visit that I did not know that many Black people in everyday settings outside of activist and art education circles. That’s something I came to notice. I appreciate that music is taken very seriously and still have fun and joy for the Lord. Overall, there is a sense of heart and hospitality that is very moving and uplifting. There is so much love of God and their members and visitors. It was an honor to be there and start the journey with them.

Xeres lives her life as a cultural catalyst. Her passions include generating social impact, community building, social justice, arts, food and friends.

JooHo Lee’s ISAAC Internship Testimonial

Jooho Lee is a graduate of ISAAC's internship program. He was the first ISAAC intern to come from Princeton Theological Seminary as an MDiv student. He will start an Assistant Professorship of Business and Ethics at Pepperdine University, Fall 2017.