End of an Era

J H updateChange can be a scary thing. But I believe, without a doubt, that it is a good thing. This is my last day in the office as Young Adults Facilitator in the Diocese, as I head back to finish my degree in theology, and focus on local youth and young adults ministry at my church: Northwest Anglican. And I believe this change is good. It is good for me: allowing me to return to study and focus on the local. But it is good for the Diocese. It allows fresh ideas, fresh perspective, energy, and also a chance to rest and reevaluate.

In the last year, I’ve entered a season of discernment for where the Diocese leads young adult ministry into the future in Auckland. I’ve come to the conclusion, after a long process of consultation and prayer, that the Grace Collective events as they have been, are not likely part of that future. The Grace Collective may continue through other forms, but these events will take a time of rest for now.

It may be that the next person in this role thinks differently, and that is totally fine! But with me finishing, and a time of waiting for the next candidate to take my place, the Grace Collective will lie and rest.

Seasons of rest are important for God’s people. Every seven years, Israel was commanded by God to rest for a year, to allow themselves, the whenua (land), the whole environment, to be replenished, before another season of productivity (Lev 25:1-4). Over Summer, New Zealand, and definitely its churches, enter a season of resting, recreation, and oftentimes dreaming of what will be in the coming year when gears change back up again. Home groups and programs go on pause, services are stripped back, congregations combine, musicians trade drums for cajons, priests trade shoes for jandals. These seasons, where it appears not a lot is happening, are actually where some of the most important things happen: preparation and perspective are found for the busied period coming where great leaps will be made in the direction of God’s guidance.

After my consultation, I wrote a report which offers some recommendations as to “what next” for the Diocese.

  • That the Young Adult Facilitator (YAF) establish a year-long formation program for young adults aged 18-25 with an intake of up to 25. The program would cover areas of Christian community, spirituality, and local expressions of the 5 marks of mission.This program would meet fortnightly for 3 hours as a large group for food and gathered prayer, which then would split into smaller ones for deeper formation.
  • The YAF offer regular workshops for church leaders on young adult ministry (i.e. in the Diocesan Training Program & and Post Ordination Training Program).
  • The YAF continues a close relationship with ADJust and the Community of Trinity by meeting with their leaders on a regular basis and collaborating on new initiatives.

Recommendations for Ministry Units

These are recommendations, and may or may not be taken up in the future. But I believe they will serve the Diocese well should they be pursued.

I think it goes some way to pointing us in a good direction moving forward. But in reflecting on it over the past month since its publication, I don’t think it casts enough of a vision for the revolution we as Anglicans need (that is a conversation for another day, though, and a vision above the pay-grade of the Young Adults Facilitator). This season of rest allows for great preparation to be made for these dreams to become reality, and for anything else God stirs up in us as we move forward.

I want to celebrate The Community of Trinity, which is an awesome initiative for young adults to explore contemplative spirituality in a close vulnerable group. I also want to champion ADJust – which is a growing movement of young adults taking a leading role in guiding the Diocese into social justice. I’ve loved watching these initiatives spring up, and have been excited to be involved in them in different ways over the last few years.

Thanks to everyone for being part of this journey with me, to this point. Shout outs to Charlie Baker for pioneering this collective, dreaming of what could be and being faithful to God’s call for your time! Thanks, too, to everyone who has been a part of the G.C. moving chairs, baking brownies, washing dishes, serving drinks, speaking, MCing, playing music, and all number of different other jobs to make it happen over the past 7 years. It has been an absolute joy being involved in this collective of people.

I look forward to being part of God’s counter-cultural revolution of radical, upside-down, love – in a different capacity.

Much love.

Jezza.