The Rev. Jesse Zink came to seminary with a background in mission and a call to explore the church in Africa. He received Evangelism for the 21st Century grants to work with Sudanese Episcopalians during the summers of 2010, 2011, and 2012, while a student at the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale. Jesse's first grant took him to teach at the Bishop Gwynne Theological School in Juba, South Sudan. There he lived, studied, and worshipped with the students, developing friendships and teaching about TEC. His second grant coincided with the separation of North and South Sudan, which he covered for the Episcopal News Service. He visited his former classmates in their home villages, helping with the delivery of relief supplies and offering support. He was surprised to be asked to offer leadership training, which he did in two dioceses, and gained great respect for the daily challenges of ministry faced by his friends.
In Summer 2012 he taught at St. Paul's Sudanese Mission in Phoenix. The only free-standing Sudanese mission in the US, the congregation is primarily Dinka refugees who were re-settled in the US over a decade ago, the so-called "Lost Boys of Sudan." A successful program of the mission has been a lay school, which offers theological education to members of the congregation. Jesse taught Sudanese church history, a task for which he was prepared by his experience in Sudan. Most meaningful for him was the latest generation of the church's history, including the decades-long civil war, through which his students had lived. Their stories of conversion, in a period when the church was thriving and growing, informed his teaching.
In honoring the Rev. Zink's work with the Morgan Directors' Award, the EES Board recognizes the depth of his immersion into Sudanese Episcopal culture and the effectiveness of his teaching gifts. Jesse is currently pursuing doctoral research at Cambridge University, on the growth and development of the Sudanese church during the civil wars. The Board is confident that his ever-deepening ministry of evangelism through mission will be a blessing to the church.
The Rev. Jesse Zink teaches at St. Paul's Sudanese Mission in Phoenix. Follow his blog, and learn more about his book "Grace at the Garbage Dump: Making Sense of 21st Century Mission" at www.jessezink.com.