Last year's Diocesan Convention called for a task force to be formed to examine successful models of engagement of adults in their 20s and 30s, within and beyond the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts.
The resulting 20-person task force is made up of people from across the diocese and has divided into two subcommittees as it continues its work: The first subcommittee is charged with hearing and gathering personal stories from people in their 20s and 30s through one-on-one interviews about their views on religion, faith and spirituality. The second subcommittee is studying successful models of programmatic and parochial engagement with people in their 20s and 30s, both within and outside of the Diocese of Massachusetts.
One of the co-chairs of the task force, Sarah Neumann, said in an e-mail that she believes that many young adults long for a spiritual community, and the church needs those voices.
"I know that the church needs these voices, not to fill a pew or check a demographic box, but to allow ourselves to change and be changed by the fullness of God's human community," Neumann said. "I'm hopeful that in the course of doing this work, we are challenging ourselves to ask hard questions about culture, community and welcome, as well as dream about what is possible."
The task force has created a video highlighting some of its members' most important questions, as well as an online survey in order to hear from as many people in their 20s and 30s as possible. The task force invites the diocesan community to share the survey with young adults in their networks.
The Rev. Suzanne Wade, the other co-chair of the task force, said in an e-mail that too many of the church's conversations about ministry with young adults are carried on by people who have not been young adults for many years.
"If we are going to hear and share the whole Gospel with a world in desperate need of it, young adults must be part of the conversation, and it must be a conversation that truly values the experiences and faithfulness of all people," Wade said.
The task force plans to complete the listening and learning portion of its work by the end of the summer, so as to come together at a September retreat to compile recommendations and a report to be presented at Diocesan Convention in November.
The diocesan youth missioner, the Rev. H. Mark Smith, helped the bishops to convene this task force, and is excited about hearing directly from young adults.
"What excites me so much about this process is that it is focused so much on listening to young adults," Smith said. "From their vantage point, they have so much wisdom to offer the rest of the church, if we are willing to listen."
--Bridget K. Wood
The video is available to watch below and on YouTube here.