Thursday, July 25, 2013

Young Adult & Campus Ministers Gather With Ecumenical Partners in Chicago

At the end of June, Young Adult and Campus Ministers of the Episcopal Church joined with others of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Methodist Church, and the Disciples of Christ for the first ever Shared Space conference in Chicago.

This year these denominations, which had each previously, hosted their own Young Adult and Campus Ministry conferences, decided to pool their resources to provide one cross-denominational event.

The Rev. Jon M. Richardson
The conference began at Chicago’s Fourth Presbyterian Church with keynote speaker Diana Butler Bass. Dr. Bass led us through a study of changing demographics in the church and our wider American culture to the conclusion that while an unprecedented number of young people are unaffiliated with any religion, the progressive church is uniquely poised to reach them with a message of love and radical welcome - a message that will come as something of a surprise to many “native unaffiliated” young people who grew up outside the church, and whose image of the Christian tradition has largely been molded by Christian conservatives.

I was there to represent Integrity USA at the conference and to serve as a resource for Episcopal Young Adult and Campus Ministers. Students and leaders from across the country expressed their gratitude to Integrity for the work we’ve been doing, and called on us to continue developing resources for their use in campus ministry settings. They reiterated the conclusions that Dr. Bass spoke about in her presentations, and expressed the need for Integrity to continue its work leading the church to a more inclusive reality - the kind of church that young people today demand.

The Rev. Jon M. Richardson is Integrity’s Vice President for National Affairs and serves as Rector of the Memorial Church of the Good Shepherd in Philadelphia, PA.  He has worked with Integrity in Legislative Strategy at the last three General Conventions and serves as our liaison to allied organizations and the Episcopal Church.  He blogs at  Follow him on Twitter @jonmrichardson

1 comment:

Sally Freed said...

I am so thrilled to read about this...please remember that you younger folks CAN help teach us and lead us; the "us" being defined as your parents and your grandparents and aunts and uncles in the pews, towards greater inclusion and acceptance!

We're doing all we can to preserve "sacred space" for you to inherit and inhabit...maybe we defined it differently 60 years ago, and maybe you don't necessarily want to inherit the real estate, but the need for "community" and "togetherness" in a "shared space" seems just as important today as it was yesterday...maybe more. Come help us define new ways to use this "sacred and shared space" for the greater good!

God bless you all for your important work!