Young Adults: Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?
The Rev. Amy Thompson Sevimli, Assistant to the Bishop, delivered a report on her work with young adult ministries during the first plenary session on Friday afternoon.
For some background, she provided some statistics:
- Millennials (those born between 1980 and 2000) are more numerous than the Boomer Generation
- 43% of people under age 20 are people of color
- 40% of 18-24 year-olds are in a 2 or 4 year school
- 38% of millennials are not in the labor force
- At least 25% of 18-29 years olds claim no religious affiliation
In the Metropolitan Washington, D.C., Synod, this is the year of the young adult. In fact, the logo for the synod assembly this year – on this theme – was itself designed by a young adult: Mary Delaney, a member of Prince of Peace, Gaithersburg, Md.
Pr. Sevimli said that the main emphasis of the synod during this year is connecting young adults with their faith communities. She indicated that the synod wants to meet with every congregation in the synod to find out how it can connect with 18-to-35 year-olds without children.
She pointed out that, to help the synod consider the topic of young adults at this assembly, the Rev. Karen Ward, leader of the Church of the Apostles in Seattle, an Episcopal-Lutheran mission congregation, and Ms. Kristin Glass, Director for Young Adult Ministry at the ELCA in Chicago, are present and will speak.
Pr. Sevimli said the statistics and demographics of the synod give good reasons for its focus on young adults. Some ZIP codes in the metro D.C. area have very high concentrations of young adults.
“The opportunity for us abounds,” she said, and then asked: “Do we see these people in congregations when we worship there or when we participate in our congregation’s ministries?”
For this to happen, Pr. Sevimli said, we need to better understand who young adults are, what they’re thinking, what their perceptions of the church are, and one of the best ways of finding these things out it to listen to young adults.
A short video, titled “Young People & the Church,” was shown. It featured several young adults speaking about their involvement in and perceptions of the Church, Christianity, Jesus and worship.
Following the video, Pr. Sevimli asked the assembly what we will we say to young adults, who may be like “Doubting” Thomas, whose Biblical story we read about a few weeks ago.
Pr. Sevimli indicated that we have to meet young people where they are – in coffee shops or on the street, for example.
She provided ways the synod wants to help congregations in reaching young adults. She introduced the synod’s young adult working group and voting members who are young adults. She also presented a young adult website – www.DCyoungadults.org – and a Facebook page – DC Young Adults.
In conclusion, Pr. Sevimli told the assembly that she is here to help congregations connect to young adults. “Give me a call, and we’ll give it a try together,” she said. “We can take our congregations and our faith to them.”