By Ashley Crutchfield 

Another start to another year and time is already flying by. People often ask me how does it feel to invest so much time into a group of Fellows and then transition year after year to a new class. It feels... it feels like a big Christmas present every September with the most beautiful wrapping paper and ribbons and so much anticipation for what's inside. I know just a little about each Fellow before they arrive, and of course I've put them all in neat little boxes of who I think they are and what they will be like. It takes no time at all during our annual Orientation Beach Retreat for them to quickly bust out of these boxes I've created. I find humor in unexpected places, vulnerability and depth with strangers, playfulness and games that create trust (ok, not including Killer Killer), beach walks that give space to listen and share stories, favorite kinds of music, and times of prayer and devotions that draw these 9 people into deeper community with both themselves and their Creator. I've just unwrapped a gorgeous gift to find an even better treasure inside. These Fellows. They are kind, generous, thoughtful, deeply loving towards each other, curious to know each person more, funny, deep, intelligent, the kind of people with whom I want to spend time. I feel blessed and grateful to work along side such creative and gifted people for the next 9 months, and hopefully beyond. Fellows 2017, I'm loving this year so far and so excited to spend more time with each of you as we journey together through this year. My prayer is that you will continue in the ways of Colossians 3:12-17 this year. 

Colossians 3:12-17 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.