Category Archives: Campus Ministry

Youth and Young Adult Formation Survey

The Episcopal Formation Collaborative is a new initiative of the Center for Ministry and Teaching at Virginia Theological Seminary. We seek to gather, create, and critique resources and best practices in response to identified needs of Christian formation practitioners in the Episcopal Church.

The first initiative of the Episcopal Formation Collaborative will be to strengthen and grow Episcopal Christian formation ministries with youth (approximately 6th through 12th grades) and young adults (18 – 30 years); collectively known as young people.

We need your help and input so we know how best to serve you!
Complete the short survey to share what is working well, what resources you need, and what challenges you are facing in ministry with young people. This initial survey will close August 31, 2012.

Our vision for the Episcopal Formation Collaborative is to build on the strengths of the Episcopal Church in mission by:

  • Fostering an action-reflection model for lived faith and ministry that continually engages people of all ages and their leaders in the process of their own formation;
  • Gathering, creating, and promoting resources and methods that are Biblically sound and congruent with Episcopal theology; and
  • Offering ideas, tools, and best practices grounded in the baptismal covenant and honoring of cultural context.

Ultimately, our dream is to provide a dynamic environment in which church leaders are invited, inspired, and transformed to become hopeful, engaged, committed Christians in the world. For more information, please go to our website at

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us. Thank you for your help and we look forward to partnering with you in ministry.

The Rev. Shannon Kelly
Projector Coordinator and Curator  
Founder of Episcopal Formation Collaborative

Dr. Lisa Kimball
Principal Collaborator and Curator
Founder of Episcopal Formation Collaborative

NOTE FROM FORMATION AND VOCATION MINISTRIES TEAM: Jason, Ruth-Ann, and Bronwyn are very aware of a great desire across the church for a central location for resources. We are also aware of many different groups and organizations that have passion on working collaboratively on such an initiative as well as resource development. Please contact us to get connected on this collaboration if you or your organization has positive energy and resources to share in this mission. Stay tuned and we’ll keep you up to date on developments!


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Filed under Adults, Campus Ministry, Lifelong Formation, Young Adults, Youth

Elders + Youngers with Desmond Tutu

Every now and then we run actross an intersting article or blog post that fits perfectly with the themes of the Episcopal Generations Project. Today Archbishop Desmond Tutu is featured at HuffPost Green.We encourage you to check it out. Describing himself as one of the “Elders,” he said the following about some of the “Youngers:”

Their positive vision and relentless energy fills me with hope. I want to believe that the next generation of leaders will be bolder, more global in their outlook and more committed to making decisions for the common good, rather than the short-sightedness and narrow interests we have witnessed in the last 20 years.

Click here to read the entire post.

We encourage Elders and Younger in congregations across the Episcopal Church to engage inter-generational dialogue like this, discussing how you and your congregation live the Marks of Mission.

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Filed under Adults, Campus Ministry, Lifelong Formation, Older Adults, Uncategorized, Young Adults, Youth

Formation and Vocation Ministries: Young Adult and Campus Ministries

So, following chronologically in our series on the work of the Formation and Vocation team, we move to the late teens and 20s, a period of life we refer to as young adulthood.

The office for Young Adult and Campus Ministries seeks to serve students, young adults, campus chaplains, and young adult ministers through relationships, resources and advocacy.  Our work focuses on the three strategic priorities of leadership development, vocational discernment, and the creation of mentoring communities where young adults can grow into an adult faith.

As the staff officer for this exciting and, in some areas, still fledgling ministry, I seek to identify, strengthen and connect the resources and leadership of the three ministry networks we serve.

Campus Ministry is the most established of our networks, consisting of Episcopal presences at over 300 colleges and universities. The Provincial Coordinators for Campus Ministry are an invaluable anchor in this network and serve to support, advise, and resource our office and the network. Together we plan an annual Chaplains Conference and biannual student gatherings, providing resources, training, and support to ministries in the space between. For the last three triennium we have also provided and overseen grants for new ministry start-ups.

The Young Adult Ministries network is a younger network and is led by the Committee for Young Adult Ministry along with the Diocesan Coordinators, who are our main points of contact on the local level.  Together they advise and support our office in planning gatherings, such as the Young Adult Festival, in identifying and creating resources, and in better connecting the network both online and in face-to-face trainings and consultations. A new project in this ministry area is the Episcopal Leadership Institute for Young Adults, which seeks to expose young adults to the work of justice in the church and to help connect them with leadership and ministries that share their passions.

The third network we facilitate is what was formerly known as PLSE, the Pastoral Leadership Search effort, now Young Adult Vocations. This network serves to support young adults in communities of color and to help them discern their various calls to ministry in the church by providing opportunities, resources and events, such as the Why Serve discernment conference. This ministry is executed in close collaboration with the ethnic ministry desks.

As your denominational staff person, I am here to support and encourage you, to connect you with the resources and people you need, to advocate for you, to help you share your stories and to pray for you. Like Bronwyn and Ruth Ann, I am happy to serve as a workshop leader, process facilitator, keynoter or preacher.  You can reach me by email, Facebook, and sometimes by phone. Please be in touch and don’t stop sharing your stories. The church needs to hear them. I give thanks for the work you do.


Jason Stewart Sierra

Offier for Young Adult Leadership and Vocations for the Episcopal Church

Formation and Vocation Ministries Team

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Mentoring from Generation to Generation…

As the senior member of our Formation & Vocation team I have been blessed to have had many amazing mentors over the years. After reading Bronwyn’s blog I spent time this week reflecting on those mentors who have come and gone in my life. How their willingness to share their wisdom has challenged me, comforted me, encouraged and delighted me. And how these gifts continue to this day to impact all aspects of my life; professional, politically, familial and spiritually. Although there were many lessons learned a few stand out and still continue to inform who I am.

In the mid seventies I had fast tracked into a corporate position, which put me close to the top of the executive ladder. I was prepared for the work, but not for the accepted industry dominated culture of white males over the age of 50 holding positions of power. This was my first lesson about personal and positional power. Fortunately, Mr. Ernest Brown an Executive Vice President took interest in me and afforded to me a safe place to vent and exhale when the pressure of having my abilities challenged because of my gender put me on the brink of public tears. This was an industry like as in baseball, as Tom Hanks said in the movie A league of their own. “There’s no crying in Baseball.”

One particular time when I was sharing with Mr. Brown my most recent tale of woe, about how unjust the system was (and he agreed it was) he said I had a choice; I could give up or fight for change. If I gave up I was on my own, if I fought he was behind me all the way. Why did I fight? Why were his words so significant and powerful? I respected and trusted him and admired his deep devotion to his Christian faith. For he himself lived what he “preached”. Mr. Brown had fought a far greater challenge than I had before me. As a bright young black man of sixteen when he first started working for this very same company, because of the color of his skin he was not allowed to eat lunch in the same restaurant as his co-workers. Mr. Brown had a mentor (the Jewish owner of the company, who after young Ernest started working for him began having lunch brought in) who did for him that which Mr. Brown was promising to do for me. His only condition was that I would commit myself always to fight for justice and that I would never use my station in life as an excuse not to use to the fullest the gifts God has blessed me with.

I have learned from him exactly what Bronwynis encouraging us all to do as “a community faith we are called to live in a way that invites those we seek to mentor to live with intentionality, to practice their agency with greater discernment.”  We are called to share from generation to generation the wisdom that we learn along the way. When I reflect on a Jewish owner in the 1950’s mentoring a Black man who mentors a white women in the 70’s I hope that in some small way I have continued to mentor in a way which honors Mr. Brown. I know that in my years of mentoring others the true blessing has been the deepening of my own faith life in ways that I have yet to realize.

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Filed under Adults, Campus Ministry, Children, Lifelong Formation, Older Adults, Young Adults, Youth

Advent 2011 – The Four Directions and Magnificat

Advent is a time to open our hearts, to ponder deeply what comes from God’s Spirit, and then to allow ourselves to be changed by what we see, hear, think and feel.“Four Directions and Magnificat” is and Advent program designed to build upon a “rediscovery” of the history of the Church and this nation that began with “Looking at Columbus Day through the Lens of our Baptismal Covenant.”  This resource is an invitation to use the season of Advent as a time of personal spiritual preparation for broader communal work by congregations, dioceses, and regions as we work together to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery.

The Four Directions and Magnificat



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Filed under Adults, Campus Ministry, Children, Lifelong Formation, Older Adults, Young Adults, Youth

Women, War & Peace (Prizes)

(Nina Boe, 24 is our guest blogger today. St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church in Seattle, Washington, is her home congregation. She currently resides in New York City where her sister, Elizabeth Boe, serves on the Episcopal Church Center staff as an integral member of the Global Partnerships Team. In May 2011 she attended the Churches for Middle East Peace Advocacy Conference as part of the Episcopal Leadership Institute for Young Adults. We are deeply thankful for Nina’s passionate post and know that you will be moved by her enthusiasm and her articulate report. Thank you, Nina!)

I had never thought to come so close to the Nobel Peace Prize. I recently graduated with a degree in Political Science, and over the years have become increasingly passionate about social justice—what can I do to live out our call in the Baptismal Covenant to seek justice and peace for all people? For a long time I’ve considered the Nobel Peace Prize a wonderful acknowledgment of those who strive for this very goal—something that a number of people whom I respect and campaigns I support have received over the years. This summer I studied in Norway at the University of Oslo’s International Summer School, taking a course in Peace Studies. My class visited the Nobel Institute, and I even have a picture at the podium at which peace prize winners give their formal acceptance speech.

During my summer course we watched Abigail Disney’s powerful documentary “Pray the Devil Back to Hell.” It tells the story of so many incredible women—Christian and Muslim—in Liberia during the civil war in the 1990s, and their involvement in the nonviolent peace movement encouraging then-president Charles Taylor to negotiate with rebel militant groups, and bring a cohesive end to the conflict. Between this documentary and Leymah’s recently published memoir, “Mighty Be Our Powers,” one gains an incredible insight to what was an amazing time in not only Liberia’s history, but remarkable examples of how women worked together to create peace for their families, their city and their society.  Both are truly inspiring.

I was excited to hear from my sister that Leymah would be at a speaking engagement in early October, and still being in NYC, I planned to attend. I woke up that Friday to read the headlines: three women were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, namely Leymah Gbowee, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (current Liberian president), and Tawakkul Karman, a Yemeni activist (and according to some sources I read, the first Arab female to win the Nobel Peace Prize.) I was over the moon to have the opportunity to hear not only such an amazing activist, but a Nobel Peace Prize winner at that!

I arrived at the Interchurch Center early and snagged a good seat, from which I was able to take the above photo.  It was all I could do the whole time to just keep listening, keep snapping photos, and keep writing down as much as I could from Leymah’s amazing speech. While this movement has evolved into an inspiring chapter in the quest for peace, her gentle insistence—“We didn’t go out to change the world; we wanted to help our society”—brought a smile to my face. The pursuit of change, the desire to help, can result in changing so many things.

“Pray the Devil Back to Hell” was the culmination of work spearheaded by New York resident Abigail Disney, who then went on to produce the upcoming six-part series “Women, War and Peace,”  which will be shown for six consecutive Tuesday evenings on PBS, beginning October 11. I also had the pleasure of meeting Abigail Disney after attending a pre-screening event sponsored by Anglican Women’s Empowerment. She is a remarkable individual passionate about the potential of women to help bring about peace in the world today, and I would highly encourage everyone to participate in “Women, War and Peace”—watch it; tell your friends, family and colleagues; watch it with a group of friends—downloadable discussion guides and further resources are available online. It is my hope that it will do the same for you as the previews alone have done for me. I have been inspired, called to engage and sustain hope; hope that one day our Baptismal Covenant can indeed be realized. Let us truly strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.

(The Formation & Vocation Ministries Team suggests that congregations consider multi-generational viewings of this series. The free study guide is extremely helpful with contextual information for leaders/facilitators with discussion questions appropriate for high school youth through senior citizens. A multi-generational conversation on the material holds potential for diverse perspectives and transformative conversation. Let us know how “Bridging the Generation Gap” through these conversations transforms the faithful people in your community!)


Filed under Adults, Campus Ministry, Lifelong Formation, Older Adults, Young Adults, Youth

Walking Alongside Hope

The institutional job market seems to have an hourglass shape these days, and not in any good way. The realms of upper management are glutted with folks who have put in their years but don’t have the capacity or confidence to retire. Meanwhile the newbies (many of whom are anything but new) are engaged in generational warfare for coveted entry-level positions such as internships, IT positions, contractors and service industry jobs.

What’s missing is the proverbial ladder, the means to get from one level to the next. Year after year the middling responsibilities have been divvied between the top and bottom through round after round of layoffs and downsizing. Its not intentional, but it’s a terrifying market when you’re down here at the bottom, only a few years out of college, trying to imagine a life, wanting to believe in the elusive dream of “career” you were sold by your parents and the university.

The generation of young adults that faces this daunting challenge however is one of the most optimistic we have seen in forty years. Confronted with incredibly limited options they have turned to family and friends, rebuilding traditional support networks. They see their technological know how as a means for collaboration, not competition with older generations. And they have a deep hope that they can rebuild and reform the broken institutions of our common life. But they know they can’t do it alone.

The greatest need this generation has, and the greatest deficit we as a society have in responding to their hopefulness is our capacity to mentor them as they explore new models for success and fulfillment. We as a society have forgotten what it means to walk alongside those who will come after us. We’re often intimidated by their technical proficiency. Their confidence and “entitlement” come off as irreverent and irresponsible. They want to level a playing field that we had to climb as a cliff face.

But the rules have changed. Success, once defined as wealth and celebrity has been blown open and shown to be empty and morally void. Replaced by community, job satisfaction, and some understanding of integrity, this generation has egalitarian, team-based values more akin to their grandparents than to the Boomers and GenXers. And unlike Generation X, they are looking for mentors, for someone to guide them along their path, to curate their learning and experience of the world, someone they can trust.

We as the Episcopal Church have an opportunity to walk with these young people. Amidst an economy that refuses to “give” them anything, they are desperately seeking that for which they are willing and ready to fight. More than a job, this is a generation seeking a vocation, a calling in this world, and we have at our disposal all the tools necessary to help them explore and name that calling: communities of support, theological space for exploring and naming values, a vast store of life experience, the resources to allow for both success and failure, and ultimately the hope that the deaths of institutions and ways of being are opportunities for rebirth and new life. The questions presented us are how willing we are to enter into vulnerable, honest relationship with a generation and who will lead the way?

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Filed under Campus Ministry, Lifelong Formation, Young Adults