Tori Falconer

What does Briarwood Fellows mean to you?

My fellows year shaped me in more ways than I ever expected. I got to see strangers come together and be vulnerable without fear of judgment. I got to laugh until I cried. I got to explore a new city. And most importantly, I got to broaden my understanding of who God is and what He desires for my life. This year allowed me to see “God’s will” as something more than just a phrase thrown out left and right. I’m leaving the Fellows program with a new sense of peace as I rest in the fact that every moment of my life can be glorifying to the Lord, no matter how mundane or ordinary.

Jenna Viets

What does Briarwood Fellows mean to you?

As it turned out, my Fellows year changed the course of my life. I came into Fellows with carefully laid plans for life after this year—where I was going to live and what I was going to do—but over the course of the year, God changed my heart and desires, and put before me opportunities I never even thought to look for. Through the guidance and leadership of mentors like Seth, my job supervisor Max, and my host mom Joyce Ann, through involvement in the Briarwood community, and through my work with the Briarwood college ministry, God made it clear that his plan for me was not what I thought it was. And his plan is so much better, even though I never could’ve seen it coming. My Fellows year will always be a pivotal part of my story. 

Breanna Lucas

What does Briarwood Fellows mean to you?

When Asked this question the first thing that comes to my mind is “community”. This program not only helped me through a really low point in my life, it gave me an instant Christ-- filled with loving community and accountability. 

I was asked the other day by my mentor “What is one bit of advice you would tell the incoming class of Fellows?” The thing I would have to say is to go into this year with all selfishness aside. Yes, this year is for you to grow in Christ and in your career field, but you will get so much more out of the year if you give up focusing just on yourself. Challenge yourself to see how you can learn from others and grow in your faith through and with them. My fellow Fellows, mentor, board Shepard, host family, Director, and church were all factors in my growth in Christ. 

I have learned so much this year about what being in true God-filled community is really like. It’s learning to listen well, learning from your mistakes, always being willing to help, being honest with one another, and loving God and others well. 

Briarwood Fellows will be a part of my life that I will never forget. I am forever grateful for the life lessons and people that have walked along side me these past nine months. 

Emma Williams

What does Briarwood Fellows mean to you?

Being a part of the fellows program has shaped me in many ways and has prepared me tremendously for entering “the real world”. One thing in particular that has impacted me has been the community I have formed. From my mentor who spent many hours pouring wisdom over me, to my coworkers who have prayed for and invested in me, the fellows, and many more— these are the people who have left their mark on my fellows year. Moving to Birmingham I had hopes that I would be able to build community, but honestly my expectations were pretty low since I didn’t know very many people in Birmingham and did not know any of the 10 people I would be spending most of my time with for the next 9 months. Several retreats, hours of seminary, roundtable dinners, and a mission trip later; I have gotten to experience the fullness of what it means to be a part of a community of believers that didn’t choose each other. It has been special to see the ways that the Lord has used us to sharpen one another and open our eyes to new perspectives. 

Matthew Futrell

What does Briarwood Fellows mean to you?

The Briarwood Fellows program has impacted me in more ways than one. The one thing I would like to highlight is the way I was spiritually poured into by this special community and fellows network. As I reflect on my time as a Briarwood Fellow, I know I’m walking away with great relationships that have impacted me for the rest of my life... including meeting my soon-to-be wife. Whether it was from my mentor, our fellows director, seminary professors, local community and business leaders, host parents, the Godly men at my internship and the fellows themselves; I was constantly learning how to have a foundation rooted in the Lord and being encouraged as I grew.

Abby Blackwell

What does Briarwood Fellows mean to you?

Fellows has taught me so much, but I think more than anything it has taught me how crucial it is to live out the gospel in every area of life, especially in work. It has always been hard for me to understand work as worship and this year I have understood the need for it and my calling in it. I have learned what it means to praise God in both the mundane and the exciting days, and I know I will take that lesson and apply it to the rest of my life. Fellows has also brought me closer to the Lord and given me a deeper reliance on him, and for that I will always be so thankful!

Adam Allen

What does Briarwood Fellows mean to you?

To me, Briarwood Fellows means trusting God with my first step into life after college. Finding the right church, community, and job are all important parts of that first step. Fellows has not only set me up for success in each of these areas, but it has also combined them into a cultivating experience that has taught me how to be an effective leader in all areas for the sake of Christ and His kingdom.

Grace Andersen

What does Briarwood Fellows mean to you?

When I think about my year in Briarwood Fellows, so many things come to mind. When I first packed up my things and moved to Birmingham, AL, I really didn’t know what to expect or how to prepare, my only hope was that I would become more of the person God has called me to be. I think I can say confidently that my year as a Briarwood Fellow has done just that. I have learned, been challenged, laughed, been frustrated, had fun, and have walked with the Lord in a way that I never have before. Leaving my college community that I had spent the past four years with and walking into a season of a lot of uncertainty was very intimidating, but I feel like Briarwood Fellows really equipped me to lean on the Lord through all of it in a lot of different ways but what I want to focus on is my mentor. 

One of the things I was most excited about coming into the program was the idea of having a mentor. I got paired with a woman named Anne Reddick and she honestly has blessed me in so many ways. Anne and I would meet every other week or so for lunch and time with her has been so special to me. To get to learn from someone that has walked faithfully with the Lord through so many different seasons—seasons of hardship, joy, uncertainty, growth, doubt, all of it—and trusted Him the whole time was such a gift to me. One thing that surprised me was that though Anne was my assigned mentor, she wasn’t the only one pouring into me through the year. What has marked my Briarwood Fellows experience the most is the numerous people in this community that have invested in me and pushed me towards Christ… from my mentor, Anne, and her husband, Phil, to my host family opening their home to me, to getting to work under the wisdom and leadership of our director, Seth, to the fellows themselves, to so many others along the way. Being a Briarwood Fellow gave me a network of mentors that push me towards Christ and for that I am forever grateful. 

Carlisle Woodward

What does Briarwood Fellows mean to you?

When asked to write about what Fellows means to me, I originally planned on writing about the way that Fellows has changed my view of work and vocation. Our work is what we do everyday, and it’s how we aid in redeeming the world back to God. This has honestly changed my life, but I chose to write about something else. The absolute best part of my Fellows year has been my host family. Greg - an engineer and sales strategist, Julie - a “retired” high school math teacher, Bre - another Fellow, and Cooper - a white lab that (as the other Fellows can attest to) has taken over my whole heart. 

When Greg and Julie signed up to host not one but TWO Fellows, they were told that we would be busy and out of the house most of the time. They did not sign up for a global pandemic that meant both Greg and I were working from home and I would be here 24/7. Or that Bre would be working nights at a hospital on the very floor where they were treating COVID-19 patients. Throughout this year and especially these last two months, I have learned so much about what it means to open your home up to others and to show the Gospel through hospitality. 

Greg and Julie have not shied away from supporting us in all things, loving us through correction when necessary, and teaching me to care about the Auburn football team! Not to mention the conversations we’ve been able to have when our ideas of the world are different. I have never experienced iron-sharpening-iron like I do when Greg and I debate real world issues. They have been an example of a godly family, a godly marriage, and godly people who care about those around them. How cool is it that I haven’t just been learning about how God works through us to redeem creation, but I’ve gotten to see it first-hand through the Harris Family!

Matthew Handley

What does Briarwood Fellows mean to you?

I think what impacted me most this fellows year was experiencing a different form of biblical community. A community of people who were brought together outside of our control. Each of us came from different areas of the country and have very different backgrounds. But we were able to see how the gospel is all that’s needed to unify all who love Christ. Our differences became each other’s strengths as we learned from each other’s walks with the Lord. Our pasts became footholds into deeper biblical community. Each of these fellows has taught me more than they even know and I couldn’t imagine having a better group of people to have spent my fellows year with!