Responding to the spiritual needs of preteens and teens is about building trusting relationships. The Episcopal Church strives to walk with young people on their journeys from childhood to adulthood, recognizing their gifts for ministry, their questions about spirituality, and their desire to make a difference in the world.
He has told you, human one, what is good and what the Lord requires from you: to do justice, embrace faithful love, and walk humbly with your God. – Micah 6:8 CEB
This verse from the First Testament is the scrap of scripture that the Holy Spirit has been whispering in my ear since before the Episcopal Church convened for General Convention in Indianapolis last July. It is the message that keeps bouncing through my head when I am praying during my daily exercise and when I lay my head to rest at night. Part of why it has stuck with me is because I am still contemplating this ancient verse that I had memorized and treasured, using different words than those of this newly approved version (Resolution D021) from the Common English Bible. My heart hasn’t caught up with what my head is reading. It took me a while to memorize the “new” version of the Lord’s Prayer, too. I am a creature of habit and take comfort in the ritual that I can practice without thinking.
The Spirit is blowing us to a new place, and I am clearly called to follow with my heart and let my brain do the catching up as we respond to new ways to join God’s mission in the world.
We entered General Convention with a budget proposal that eliminated funding for Formation and Vocation Ministries, including ministries with children, youth and young adults. Through faithful strategies of many Lifelong Faith Formation advocates across the church, combined with the Presiding Bishop’s vision for a budget driven by our need to practice the Five Marks of Mission, we came out of Convention with a funded team and a budget that prioritizes continuing and new mission and ministry at the churchwide level in Formation and Vocation Ministries.
But we can’t keep doing the same things expecting different or better results. We need to build network capacity, reach further to the margins of our communities, and recognize that Youth and Young Adult Ministries cannot take place in a generationally segregated way. The community of faithful needs the Body of Christ working in multigenerational, cross-cultural, empowering ways.
We are exploring ways to bridge gaps so that the entire body of Christ is empowered for joining God’s mission in the world. I invite you to engage the Youth Ministry and Lifelong Formation networks by tuning in to at least two of the social media sites we’re using (such as Facebook and Twitter) and help build capacity across the network with us. Share your stories and reach out when you are feeling disconnected. When you successfully bridge a gap in your context, please share so that others might learn.
Join us as we do our best “to do justice, embrace faithful love, and walk humbly with your God.”
With gratitude for your ministry and hope for our future,
Bronwyn Clark Skov
Officer for Youth Ministries and Team Leader for Formation and Vocation Ministries