Billi and Michael spent 3 days in Cleveland at the training for congregations that will be sponsoring Young Adult Service Communities (YASC). Old First hasn’t worked out all the details of how we might host such a community, but we do have a YASC ministry team that’s taken up the challenge of working towards those answers.
Here’s what Michael took from the training in Cleveland:
“There are a lot of details about applications, interviews, Americorps, finding service sites with partner social service or justice advocacy organizations… and placing each intern in a good fit.
And then there’s the questions about how the interns will be involved in the life of the church community — finding them four hours weekly of ‘meaningful service’ in our congregations too. I am particularly excited about an intern helping us create something like a movie series, “Faith in Film,” but I bet Yajeh needs help with Sunday School first!
There are also all the issues of creating an intentional, residential community among the young adults. This is new territory for most churches. The training spent a lot of time thinking about what an intentional community is, and how a congregation can host it, and how the participants have to make the commitments that constitute it.
Hearing from the churches that are already hosting YASC groups, I also was made aware of how important this time is in the life of these young people — as they make the transition from college into their adult, working lives. Studies seem to indicate that for many young people that transition is more complicated and taking longer these days. I think that the weekly reflection group will be crucial to make the most of their work outside the church, involvement in our faith community and experience living in an intentional community.
Billi and I also heard from the congregations with YASC groups already that the people who arrive to participate can vary widely. Differences can include religious background and current understandings. But also their “work readiness.” Some will be total self-starters who just need permission to get working on a vision, and off they go. Others will need more support and time as they figure out who they are and how they are meant to serve in the church and in the world. As we have seen over the years with our Partners in Service staff, welcoming people to work among us is about real people and their needs as well as their gifts.
I took from this training that YASC can be a very important ministry for our church. I am going to suggest to our YASC ministry team that we refer to our interns as “community ministers” because they will be doing ministry in Old First’s name, both in our midst, but also extramurally in the wider city around us.
But YASC will add to our life together not just because It could welcome a few more young people into our midst who are thinking about vocations and service, and all the new perspectives that might bring. It may also offer us some extra helping hands. But finally, I realized, the best way to think about it is as our ministry to these young adults– YASC will make a difference because of the difference Old First might make in these young people’s lives as they figure out the beginning of the young adult lives.”
If you’d like to join the YASC ministry team, please speak with Beth Walker.
P.S. Michael says he also learned that when 3 people and 2 dogs driving in a snow storm in Warren, Ohio have a choice between a sketchy, shady 8-room motel and a much bigger, well-lit hundred room hotel, they were right to opt for the latter!