In the heart of the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego, leaders from across the country gathered at St. Paul’s Cathedral for the transformative Young Adults and Campus Ministry Leadership Conference. Over three inspiring days, attendees embarked on a journey of learning, prayer, and connection, equipping themselves with new skills, fostering relationships, and igniting a renewed energy to serve young adults in camps, college campuses, and churches.
The first evening ended with a keynote address by Becca Stevens, the visionary Founder of Thistle Farms. Stevens acknowledged the vital role each of the attendees played, stating, “I know I’m not just preaching to the choir; I’m preaching to the choir directors!” These talented leaders guide young people on a profound journey of self-discovery and purpose, serving as the roots of a great tree. Just like roots dig deep into the ground, providing structure and support, these campus ministers rarely get to witness the leafy beauty they help cultivate.
Bishop Susan Brown Snook said, “Campus ministry is one of the most important ministries in the Church. We are called to serve these young people and guide them toward a full, healthy life in Christ. Bringing these talented leaders together to learn from one another, pray with each other, and rest is vital to the care of their ministries. Gatherings like the Young Adult Ministers Conference are perfect times to make new connections and develop new ways to share the Good News of Christ with the world. EDSD was happy to host this year’s conference.”
Greg Tuttle, a dedicated SDSU Agape San Diego leader, said, “It was a pleasure serving on the Design Team for this one,” as he prepared for a candlelit evening worship around the labyrinth at our Cathedral. “Conferences like this are times to worship together, share bold ideas, affirm one another for the work ahead, and shape lifelong friendships, said Tuttle. It is a privilege to welcome those who are questioning, not only about God but also about life itself. “At SDSU (Agape San Diego), we create a safe space where young adults can freely explore and discover themselves,” said Tuttle.
Young adulthood and college years are a time when questions take center stage. It is a period of exploration, as individuals grapple with their values, perspectives, faith, and identity. The Rev. Heather Lawrence, EDSD Campus Minister, said, “Intentionally listening and supporting our young people–in the ways they ask to be supported–must be the church’s top priority if we are going to continue to minister to our rapidly changing world.” It is a ministry of presence–of showing up and sharing your spirit. By enveloping them in the love and acceptance of Jesus Christ, campus ministers empower young adults to embrace their unique calling and positively impact the world.
Charlotte Preslar, the EDSD Director of Formation, said, “Having a safe space to feel seen and loved exactly as you are is transformative. I feel blessed to have met so many leaders at this conference who create safe environments for students and young adults to ask questions, express doubts, and grow in relationship with God and each other.” Cultivating an environment where young adults can freely ask questions, express doubts, and embark on a journey of self-discovery is vital to their development as people of God.
The conference was not just about learning; it was a melting pot of connections and shared experiences. Bishop Susan Brown Snook preached at the opening Eucharist, welcoming the campus ministers to San Diego.
During breaks, participants gathered in cozy corners, engaging in lively conversations. They shared stories of triumphs and challenges, offering support and guidance to one another. In this nurturing environment, friendships were forged, and a new network of empowered young adult leaders took root.
The Young Adults Campus Ministers Conference offered a space for these dedicated leaders to connect and share their experiences. It was a gathering of minds and hearts committed to walking alongside young adults during this transformative phase of their lives.
As the conference drew to a close, participants gathered on the shore of the Pacific Ocean, reflecting on the profound impact they have on the lives of young adults. By embracing questions, creating safe spaces, and cultivating a ministry of presence, these leaders are shaping the future of young adult engagement in the Church. The Young Adults Campus Ministers Conference served as a catalyst, empowering them to be the branches that reach out and bear the fruits of love, acceptance, and transformation for young adults seeking their place in the world.
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