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Our Indianapolis Adventure: Beginning A New Chapter

Earlier this week members from our CCV team, Amanda Vetsch, Kristina Fruge, Jeremy Myers and Ellen Weber, gathered in Indianapolis for three days with colleagues from across the country as we are entering a new chapter of a grant we recently received from the Lilly Endowment.

Three different images of Amanda Vetsch, Kristina Fruge, Jeremy Meyers and Ellen Weber together in Indy. The first on the top left is at the airport by the Indy sign. The top right is at dinner together and bottom image is outside at the conference soaking up the sunshine.
Top left image is at the Indy airport. Top right is at dinner on Sunday night. Bottom image is our CCV Team outside of the conference soaking up some sunshine.

You can read more about this particular grant hereThese colleagues include folks from 11 other seminaries and universities who received a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment in 2017 that was part of Lilly’s inaugural Young Adult Initiative. After experimenting and learning for the past five years together in contexts across the country, we gathered to launch another five-year commitment to steward the evolving work emerging from partnerships with congregations, young adults and neighborhoods.  We explored together where we have been, where we are going, how we have been changed and how we can continue to build connections with each other in this work around vocation and what it means to be called by God to this work. 

The Riverside Innovation Hub at Augsburg will be focusing on how we support the spiritual lives of young adults through a multi-layered initiative centering young adult voices. There are many parts that will be life giving that will emerge in the months and years to come, but a couple in particular are gaining our attention and excitement. 

A young person digging in the dirt with three circles overlapping each other, one green, one gray and one blue. Text stating Collection of voices, community of learners and collaborative of People around the circles.
Our visual for our multi-layered initiative.

Book Project: 

In the next year, we’ll gather a group of young adults to share our hopes, dreams, and heartaches for the church. From this gathering, we’ll distill some key themes and stories for a group of young adults and thought leaders to co-author a book, likely something between a love letter and a call to action. During our time in Indy, we heard from the other hubs who are also in the process of figuring out how to share the stories and learnings from the first phase of the project. Some are writing academic books, others are publishing research, some are imagining ways of disseminating stories through digital media. It was great to learn from them about what they’re working on and dreaming up. I, Amanda, am excited that our vision for this book honors the sacred and prophetic stories of young adults, and I’m hopeful that these stories can be heard by the church in a way that opens us up to what God is calling us to do, and how God is calling us to be. 

Public Church Collaborative:

Alongside the book project will be the creation of an online collaborative that uses the Public Church Framework to network and resource ministry leaders with a focus on co-creating with young adults to participate in liberation that is neighbor-centered and context specific. Throughout our three days, we gathered in small groups to explore the possibilities around learning management systems (LMS) and how they can be a tool to share out our learnings from the first phase while building community. Throughout the next year, we will be gathering key leaders from our past congregations to help design something innovative while consulting with organizations that have similar missions to engage the world beyond the church. This collaborative will become the primary infrastructure for sharing what we and others are learning related to vocational discernment in the public square for the common good. I, Ellen, am excited to explore and learn more about how an online collaborative could open up the opportunities to connect with folks doing similar work to them to grow and learn together in relationship with one another. I am looking forward to exploring the ways that this tool could be used to invite folks into new ways of being in community with each other.

One of the most exciting things about this gathering was the ability to collaborate with other institutions that are  exploring similar ways of engaging with young adults. Kristina and Ellen will be connecting more with one of those partners at a conference in late April. Stay tuned to find out more!