Ok. After visiting Trenton, I think I'm more confused than I was before.
First of all, I got lost getting there due to faulty directions. I ended up stopping at a CVS to help orient myself and was told by an elderly gentleman, "Oh, you be careful there. That's a bad neighborhood." Driving through there I didn't think it was too bad. Not the type of place you want to get caught in after dark, but it was near the state building in a rather commercial area. St. Paul's is further up the street in a more residential area.
I arrived 23 minutes late, just in time to hear the sermon. I was very thankful that I wasn't there in any official capacity; I think I would die of embarassment otherwise. The people there were nice, and during the passing of the peace the pastor came up to me and asked if I would mind being introduced. I told him to go ahead, and he mentioned that I was there checking them out. After the service, I had the opportunity to talk to a few people. From what I understand, there were many families that were away that week, but there was a new Liberian family in attendance. Apparently, there is a very strong Liberian presence in Trenton.
I didn't get to see much of that building, but I did get to see a bit of St. Paul's, which also hosts the offices for the district. After that, I went to the pastor's house for lunch and had the opportunity to talk with him and his wife.
If I went to Trenton, I would be the one to develop a children's ministry. Rev. Johnson talked about how there's a gang problem in Trenton, but not one that's so severe as to warrant a ministry targeting gangs. His idea, rather, is on prevention -- focusing on 8 - 11 or 12 year olds. I will admit, the opportunity to get really hands on in these churches is appealing. However, my biggest concern is the distance.
It takes an hour and twenty minutes to get from Trenton to Madison with minimal amounts of traffic. The seminarian who was there before warned me that it can take anywhere from an hour and fifteen to an hour and forty-five. Distance-wise, the trip is sixty miles one way. Two trips per week would be 240 miles and over 5 hours of driving. The idea is to be there for worship on Sunday (of course) but also have a full meeting of the team once per week.
My vision would be to really be able to get involved in the community I was placed in for supervised ministry, but I'm not sure how this is going to be possible if I have to travel so far. Westwood is almost as bad, but it's only 45 minutes away. Westwood has its advantages as well, like being a part of a growing congregation that has life and vitality.
I know that either place has its positive aspects and its drawbacks, and that either setting would be a great experience. Both seminarians who were there in these churches (ironically, they were married to each other) both had wonderful experiences and spoke very highly of the pastors they worked with. I think it's time for me to sit down and have a conversation with Dean Samuel.