“I Am NYTS” Student Stories – Monika Cummings, MDiv Alumna
Monika Cummings, MDiv Graduate 2016
Although I hadn’t completely finished wrestling with my commitment to the call of ministry, nor did I have any desire be a pastor of a church, I enrolled in New York Theological Seminary in 2012 believing God would be, “A lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” (Psalms 119:105 NRSV).
While attending and participating in an NYTS sponsered trip to Ethiopia with Rev. Dr. Eleanor Moody-Shepherd, my mission and calling to ministry began to take shape. Over the past three years I have been working towards developing a non-profit organization called TheEyeCareProject, which redistributes unused eyeglasses to children and adults who suffer from visual impairments in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The project has collected over 500 pairs of unused eyeglasses, provided over 50 vision screenings and 30 pair of newly prescribed eyeglasses. While continuing to work on this project, I became aware of another need that affected the students attendance in this community and formed The Red Tent Project, which distributes reusable feminine hygiene products to empower women and girls who are less fortunate. These projects have expanded to other countries such as Ghana, Kenya and Jamaica and are now called the iCareProjects. So, unlike my fellow seminarians that are preachers or lay ministers, I have chosen to answer the call to ministry in the form of missions as an example of God’s universality and the promises to God’s creation.
My experience at NYTS has been transformational. Through the various courses, conferences and the intimate connections that I have made through this diverse community of faith, I now believe that true ministry doesn’t take place just in the pulpit but it can take place in the pews and more importantly outside of the church’s structural walls.