; charset=UTF-8" /> Welcome to The Great Banquet: Mission Hills UCC Young Adults : Connecting Voices
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Welcome to The Great Banquet: Mission Hills UCC Young Adults

By Ed Lucas, member of Mission Hills United Church of Christ

     Call it a “gathering” instead of a group.  As in most of the rest of our church life, we assemble freely.  No applications to fill out, no cards to show at the door.  Even the age range seems to float a bit!  (But we do advertise it as open for the ages 18-40.)

     Our numbers are comprised mainly of newer members and curious friends who get drawn in by our Mission Hills-style welcome.  Finding comfort and camaraderie in our midst, several of our number are new church members who are ready to join in church activities or serve in the various ministries that make the congregation what it is.  By making a regular time and place to anchor our experience together, we’ve had success in making our MHUCC affiliation into something that radiates out into our larger lives, together and in the community at large.

     I wrote back in the early days of our effort to bring this age group a place to warm to the congregation, and maybe even church life itself, after drifting or dysfunction has put a distance between us and prior church life.  We started up in 2009 with the help of Pastoral Intern Erin Musolf.  Over time we’ve done short periods of Bible or other book study and had great discussions afterward; had video nights showing feature movies or documentaries and gone to after-worship lunch and other special events in the community.  We’ve had our October kickoff Sunday party where we get to know each other with some food and fun.  We’ve had pre-Thanksgiving dinners before the holiday splits us up geographically.  Most of our eating experiences are potluck style, inviting everyone to share in a way that Jesus would smile upon. Indeed the Great Banquet is one reference point for what we do.

     Our population is a microcosm of the Mission Hills congregation, and certainly of the world outside our walls.  Over time, the sample of our numbers shows the motley nature of UCC—a mix of lifelong UCC; Baptist; Catholic; Presbyterian; Methodist; a mix of sexual orientations and racial-ethnic backgrounds; married and single.  We even have two clergy members, and both women, at that!  There is plenty of activity as church officers and volunteers, and many have some outside community involvement in justice or political circles.

     We’ve done things that are clearly “churchy” activities, but the most winning aspect of our fellowship is how we’ve extended the community into daily life outside the church walls and off the official calendar, blurring the distinction between “in church” and “out of church.”  Cooking for each other, dog sitting, house sitting and even helping each other into jobs are some of the clear evidence of our strengthening bonds.  Rare is the time when we can all be together in the same room (I sometimes joke about being the chief cat herder of the bunch).  But I think we do church right by establishing a bold welcome to new faces, a chance to connect at a regular time, the space to debate and disagree and the feeling that this church is home to folks who are in various ways often distant from family.  Some have miles between them, for some the distance is measured in years or tears.  We can pat ourselves on the back for a share of the community we feel, but ultimately we acknowledge a good helping of spirited grace that brought us to it and sustains our community.

     We gather regularly at 7:00 pm on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of each month, upstairs in the Community Room at Mission Hills UCC.  We encourage bringing friends who might appreciate and share in this community.  Other UCC congregations are encouraged to drop in as well. Consider yourself invited.  Contact Ed Lucas at mhuccya@tapkae.com for info.

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