A Stronger Voice and Presence of Young People
Whether it is presenting at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration early this year, providing hospitality and staffing business sessions at General Assembly, serving on a discussion panel at Regional Gathering, or forming an inclusive planning team for UNITE 2018, our young people are engaging their gifts in leadership and intentional development of our regional programming. If you were at Regional Gathering this month, you may have seen “God’s Gallery”: an artistic expression of the spiritual work our young people have been participating in this year (drawings, pottery, photos, and more). God’s Gallery was organized, curated, and staffed exclusively by the hands of youth and young adults in the PSWR. This was their idea and desire to demonstrate their voice in the larger church. It was beautiful and awesome to see.
Our youth and young people have had the unique opportunity to meet with our new General Minister and President, Rev. Teresa Hord Owens, twice this year. Once at UNITE where Terri preached the opening service and once at General Assembly where Terri met to discuss youth ministry exclusively with our youth and young adults. This has given the PSWR youth access to the General Church in ways we’ve not experienced in recent years. They shared their hopes with our GMP and our GMP listened to their concerns directly. Several of our young people are in ongoing conversations with Terri through social media and are working with her on a special project for UNITE 2018.
Resources, Grants, and Scholarships
XPLOR Residents, Disciples Peace Fellowship Interns, Chapman University Students, HELM Fellows, Disciples Seminary Foundation Scholars, the Forum for Theological Exploration participants, a grant from the Oreon E. Scott Foundation, and much more engage our young people in leadership development and service in ways that tap into their passions for God’s people. We are the PSWR, and our region offers accessible resources, as well as, a strong connection with the General Church. Many of our young people have and continue to be supported by these resources.
This month I had the privilege of speaking with Dr. Dee James Atwood, Director of Admissions and Assistant to the Dean of Students at Texas Christian University (TCU). Jim was enthusiastic about connecting our youth to Disciples scholarships available. He said, “I am committed to put Disciples dollars in the hands of young people from your region.” All participants in our Youth Leadership Team and Youth Immersion Ministry (as well as any young adults interested) are eligible to receive up to 50% tuition for their service to the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
Additionally, Bethany College in West Virginia offers the following to Disciples students who are active in church leadership, especially YLT and YIM:
· Campbell-Stone Heritage Scholarship is $16,000, renewable every year, for a total of $64,000.
· The Alexander Campbell Religious Leadership Award is $5,000, renewable every year, for a total of $20,000. This scholarship requires an essay, and two letters of recommendation documenting their leadership in the church. Recipients of the Alexander Campbell Religious Leadership Award become members of the Alexander Campbell Scholar program where they will be discipled and mentored.
· $1,500 scholarship, renewable every year, for a total of $6,000 for students who are sons or daughters of DOC clergy.
· Outside of church scholarships, we offer merit scholarships between $4,000 - $18,000, the Presidential Scholarship - full-tuition, Honors College Scholarship $23,000, and Kalon Scholarship $19,500 for student leaders.
The first three scholarships listed are stackable for a total of $22,500. In addition, an alumni referral scholarship of $1,000 (renewable for $4,000) and a campus visit grant of $250 (renewable for ($1,000) can be added, totaling $23,750. The current tuition at Bethany is $27,250.
Global Service Projects
Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Mexico, South Korea, Israel-Palestine…the list continues to grow. Our regional youth and young adults are given the amazing opportunity to travel across the globe to experience expressions of the Church that challenge our understanding of God to help us grow in faith and serve God’s people. In 2018 we will be hosting the Immigration Immersion Project. Young people from all over the General Church will travel to the PSWR for a 10 day training in Southern California and Tijuana, Mexico. I am grateful for the support of Rev. Lori Tapia, Rev. Xose Escamilla, Rev. Sadie Cullumber, and many others who have pledged their support for this important opportunity.
We will also be taking a team of youth on an East Coast Work Tour next summer to Washington, D.C. and Virginia where we will participate in mission projects and visit historical sites. Further down the pike, we hope to accept the offer to travel to Australia to learn about reparations for the Aborigines and their culture, and to Kenya for a unique experience to discover God on safari.
Intentional Christian Leadership Formation
The PSWR Youth Ministry focuses on developing Christian leaders to serve in the world today. We believe that what we practice shapes our character. So, we are focusing on five areas of spiritual formation to compliment the work being done in the local church: Hospitality, Local Service, Global Missions, Mentorship, and Disciples Identity. Our hope is that by the end of a youth’s high school career they will be equipped with experiences of strong community, a broad awareness of the world around them, and a sense of the calling God is placing on their life to serve those in need. We believe that this is best achieved when Pastors, lay-leaders, and other local units are confident in the effectiveness of regional programming. We desire for churches to be eager to connect youth to regional resources so that they are stronger leaders in their home congregations and in present in the general church.