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.
A Blessed Lent
The new semester is well underway, Ash Wednesday is past, and we are called into the holy and reflective season of Lent. Yet, as we move into this new year and new triennium, we are in a space of transition, cultural change, and experimentation, one that can easily drive us to follow our anxieties and move faster, work harder and strike out alone. It is exactly at a time like this, however, that we most need a sacred community of contemplation, reflection, and support.
This Lent I invite you to consider expanding your community of support; to reach out beyond your parish, beyond your diocese, maybe even beyond your province or our denomination; to engage in a broader community of mutual learning and support. There are individuals across the church asking many of the same questions: How do we reach new communities of young adults beyond our walls? How do we foster intergenerational and interfaith relationships? How do we effectively engage young adults in vocational discernment? How do we recruit young adults to the diaconate? Perhaps these are your questions, or perhaps you have others, but I assure you that you are not alone in your questions, your experiments, and your passions.
We hope the resources here will help you to explore these questions in community, to form relationships in which we can borrow and lend courage to one another (to steal an image from the Rev. Tom Brackett) in order to engage the Gospel and this generation in new and creative ways.
May this Lent be a blessing to you and may this community gathered in Christ be stronger for it.