We "sat down" with Zack Nyein and got real about the Vols, church planting, and the enigmatic parables of a controversial rabbi.
Level Ground: What are you excited about today?
Zack Nyein: The Tennessee Vols beating Georgia last night in a desperate "Hail Mary." I attended UT for undergrad and marched with the Pride of the Southland for two years... A fan through thick and thin, this year has been exciting.
LG: Share with us who you are these days.
ZN: I was ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church on the 21st of September, which happened to be the Feast of St. Matthew the Apostle and Evangelist. I was assigned to a congregation in Chattanooga, TN, so I am reorienting again to life in the south and living into the rhythms of pastoral ministry.
LG: Tell us about a project of any kind that another person is working on with you.
ZN: I am so excited to be working on the advisory for Genesis - a new church planting and mission development initiative of the Episcopal Church established with funding from our General Convention in 2015.
LG: Why and how did you get connected to Level Ground?
ZN: Through my work in the summer of 2015 with Northland Village Church, where I connected with Samantha Curley!
LG: Tell us about the last Level Ground event/project that you participated in and why you chose to do it.
ZN: Although I have been an avid fan of the work of Level Ground, this was my first event!
LG: What was the first thing you ate today?
ZN: Multigrain Publix Brand Cheerios
LG: What does it mean to be in dialogue with someone and how has that been a part of your life?
ZN: For me to be in dialogue is to open myself to the possibility of transformation through listening faithfully and sharing with vulnerability and courage.
LG: What is the last book that you read and how would you pitch it to a stranger if you had written it?
ZN: I was preparing a sermon last week on Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16. Vanderbilt professor and Jewish New Testament Scholar Amy-Jill Levine's book, The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi: Short Stories by Jesus, was recently gifted to me by a fellow pastor and was immensely helpful in making sense of an intense and challenging text. Levine's uniquely Jewish perspective brings fresh insight to the context in which Jesus would have been heard and experienced.
LG: Tell us about your profile picture on your favorite social media platform or on your email account.
ZN: It is a picture of me and my boyfriend Michael at my Masters of Divinity graduation at Yale University - I intentionally chose one of the most Hogwarts-esque locations!
LG: What is concerning to you about the future, whether personally or more broadly?
ZN: Like many, I am concerned by the increasing polarization and extremism we see in the United States and abroad.
LG: What brings you hope about the future, whether personally or more broadly?
Initiatives such as Level Ground bring me great hope through the way they help me to recognize beauty in the world, especially in the other.