Young adults ages 18 to 30, although they’re grouped together, are often at very different stages in their lives. They’re married, partnered, single, with children, divorced, widowed. They leave high school and enter the work force, the military, or college. Not every young adult attends college, and many will try it on but leave before completing a degree.
They engage with the world, and many have strong opinions about war, the environment, and the institutional church. Many will rally to help a next-door neighbor or organize relief efforts for Sudan and Haiti. The Episcopal Church strives to be alongside young adults, to accompany, mentor, and provide places for leadership development. The church also offers deeper experiences in their faith journey through fellowship, vocational discernment, and internships in programs such as the Young Adult Service Corps.
Young Adult Ministry in the church at large takes the form of parish-based young adult groups for worship, fellowship, mission and study; young adult internships and intentional living through the Episcopal Service Corps; diocesan retreats and gatherings; engaging and training young adults in the polity of the church; mentoring and discernment programs; and young adult pilgrimages and mission experiences. Campus ministry includes all students attending places of higher learning at colleges and universities. Sometimes referred to as "Canterbury Club" or "Episcopal Campus Ministry" (ECM), it includes all chaplains, campus ministers, and faculty. It provides programming, networks (diocesan, provincial, churchwide, and ecumenical), advocacy, and resources for those doing ministry on college and university campuses.
Introducing Mike Angell
I began my work with the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of The Episcopal Church in mid-January, and I have been overwhelmed by the words of welcome I have received from all over the church. I think this welcome speaks to the high level of energy and interest in ministry with young adults in our church today.
We know that Jesus recruited James and John when they were still working for their father Zebedee, before they were old enough to strike out on their own. Jesus intentionally went around recruiting young adults to be his followers. He looked for young leaders to build his community of disciples, to share his vision.
What if we saw The Episcopal Church, at least partially, as a leadership institute for the Reign of God? What if we saw young adults, not as a challenge, but as a resource? What if we saw the young adults in and around the church as source of potential leadership? This summer two conferences will help us to continue to vision ministry with young adults this way:
- Why Serve?: June 5-8, at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific is a chance for Young Adults from the Asian, Black, Indigenous and Latino and multi-ethnic communities of The Episcopal Church to come together for a week of discernment about their role in leadership, lay or ordained, within or outside the traditional structures of the church.
- Kindling: July 28-3, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is an Episcopal conference for leaders in ministry with young adults on and off college campuses. This will be a summit of leaders, professional and volunteer, lay and ordained, a chance to gather and learn from colleagues and experts. (We are subsidizing the cost for current students and Episcopal Service Corps members to make it affordable for those in ministry as peers with other young adults).
We are all learning how to do ministry in a new generation. My time working as a campus missioner re-building a college ministry and as a priest at a downtown parish left me with more questions than answers. I am excited to work with you as we build the church’s capacity to listen to young adults and invite them into leadership.