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2012 Annual Gathering Report from Young Adult Ministry Coordinator

Report for Annual Gathering 2012

 

 

Overview

The position of Young Adult Ministry Coordinator was created in January of 2012, with a strategic direction for the position presented to the Board of Directors at the January Board Meeting.  The strategic plan, as presented, outlined efforts in five (5) areas of ministry that would guide the position in engaging the conference, congregations, young adults, ministers and lay leaders, as well as the Outdoor Ministries Task Force, in the work of the position. An outline of those ministry areas with strategic goals was presented in this format:

My hope is that in my transition to new opportunities, the strategic approach can be affirmed and continued within the framework of the new coordinator and her/his gifts, talents, abilities and passions.

Reflections

In the past five months I’ve received input from dozens of minsters, lay leaders and members of UCC congregations in our conference, as well as across the country, about the things that are of most importance to them in terms of engaging their faith in local church communities. These issues include:

–       Music: Perhaps no other topic has been as common as the desire to marry the UCC’s commitment to a progressive public witness with a musical expression that reflects the current reality of today’s young adults. It is not a matter of style over substance, but an insistence on both being present in new worship music. Young adults from every walk of life have been raised with a starkly different musical vocabulary for worship than previous generations; they expect something that reflects their vocabulary, not a faint imitation of past folk music movements. There is a refusal to value one tradition or style over another, as well as an insistence that quality of execution be at the forefront. This is an area where I had hoped to bring alternatives not just to the conference, but the denomination nationally, based on my 18 years working in the music industry, and relationships with songwriters and composers of all genres.

–       Resources: We are in a time of swift transition, where entrepreneurial culture has swept over young adults, resulting in myriad innovations and new initiatives. This is seen in the area of looking for resources that can be used in young adult ministry, not so much as programs to emulate, but ideas that can inspire. I have endeavored to highlight ideas and resources that are being used in the UCC as well as other traditions, as examples of how other Christians are taking risks and being innovative in their approaches to ministry and engagement.

–       Conversation: Our time with writer/speaker/blogger Rachel Held Evans was a catalyst for conversations, ideas and connectedness, and helped those in attendance to see how we can begin to re-imagine our churches as places that bring to bear all of our existing strengths to help younger generations experience tradition, as well as giving innovative thinkers spaces to re-create ministry in their context. As we move from a culture of top-down influence to ground-up connectedness, facilitating these kinds of dialogues will grow ever more important.

–       Being Present: While the UCC’s values are exactly what today’s young adult generation would like to see in churches (http://bit.ly/AagQn8), our ability to embody that among our faith peers has been lacking. On a broad, philosophical scale, this can be explained along the lines of myriad exchanges I’ve had in ecumenical settings that go something like this: “Oh you’re with the UCC? I love the UCC!” “Great! What do you love about it?” “Well, I love what it takes stands on, although there are times I wonder why it isn’t present in those areas in my town.” Our policies are fantastic. Our ability to embody that in local settings is a challenge for us all, myself included. I encourage us to think about how we can make sure that out communities know that we are present and passionate about the values we espouse.

EVENTS / EXPERIENCES / RESOURCES

In the five (5) months since the creation of the position we have seen the strategic direction addressed in the following experiential ways:

–       Rachel Held Evans event: Feb. 25th in San Diego. Leading Emergent blogger/writer/speaker Rachel Held Evans (http://rachelheldevans.com/) presented an interactive workshop with conference clergy and lay leaders in San Diego.

–       Centro Romero: participated in one day tour of Centro Romero ministry components in San Ysidro and Tijuana with blogger / influencer Adam McLane of The Youth Cartel. Reflections in blog post from Adam here: http://bit.ly/KzKqjg

–       Centro Romero: Facilitated participation in the Romero Center Sex Trafficking Consultation workshop (http://www.theromerocenter.org/SexTrafficking.htm) for MDiv. Student and Homebrewed Christianity blogger / contributor Stephen Keating. His blogging on the event is captured here: http://bit.ly/KzKJu8 and here: http://bit.ly/KzKSxQ and here: http://bit.ly/KzKVd8

–       National UCC Young Adult Website Task Force: I have represented the SCNC in a series of meetings that are designed to guide the design and content of a new section of UCC.org that is designed by and for young adults. Because of my history in working with companies and organizations to design a strategic approach to website design, I have been pleased to be able to collaborate with young UCC leaders from across the country.

–       Homebrewed Christianity Annual Gathering Event: We are hosting a taping conversation of the popular Homebrewed Christianity podcast, hosted by The Neighborhood Church (UCC) youth minister Tripp Fuller at Annual Gathering 2012. This is a chance for young adults and those wishing to engage with young adults to gather and be a part of this acclaimed and popular podcast on issues of theology, culture and faith.

–       Annual Gathering Workshop: I will be delivering a workshop on engaging young adults in the church at Annual Gathering 2012 at Chapman University. This is a place that

–       Pilgrim Pines Communication Team: There has been a small team focused on executing various areas of communication for Pilgrim Pines, and the coordinator position has provided strategic direction to this team.

–       Young Adult Blog: I have established my own conference blog (http://bit.ly/MbGmJm) to communicate thoughts, opportunities, resources and other ideas to the conference and young adults in ministry.

–       Facebook / Twitter: I have also established Facebook and Twitter IDs for the conference Young Adult role to facilitate conversations, information etc.

SUMMARY

As I transition out of this role and pass it along to the interim coordinator, I feel that I’ve been effective in setting a strategic course for the role that is solid, and that is not personality-driven. Rather, the plan allows for our conference, it’s leaders and staff to design the role in ways that reflect their own passions and talents, with a plan in place to guide their efforts, as well as areas to give attention that can serve the conference and its congregations.

Other Reports:

Report of the Conference Board of Directors Chair

Report of the Executive Associate Conference Minister

Report of the Associate Conference Minister for Church Relations

Report of the Associate Conference Minister for Border & Latino Ministries

Report of the Youth Ministry Coordinator

Report of the Outdoor Ministry Team

Report of the Joint Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)/United Church of Christ Global Ministry Committee

Report from Retirement Housing Foundation

Report from Peppermint Ridge

Report from Pilgrim Place

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