“The idea behind Commonplace is really pretty simple, a place where young adults in leadership in the church could come together and share what they were learning” explained Jason Evans, Missioner for Young Adult and Campus Ministries for the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. Leaders from seven dioceses gathered to share ideas, songs, stories, and vision for ministry with young adults on and off college campuses. Coming together at St. Paul’s Church, Rock Creek Parish in the District of Columbia, a diverse group of church planters, diocesan missioners, campus ministers, priests and lay leaders shared time and place together and talked about their mission and ministry.
We started on Friday night with “Beer and Hymns.” A competition between parishes ensued because the beer we shared was brewed by young adults in Washington parishes. We voted for “best brew.” (Michael Sherrard of St. Stephen and the Incarnation took the prize for his IPA). Saturday morning we gathered for Morning Prayer, and to hear stories developing as part of the Storytelling project. I shared a few principles I see at work in many vibrant ministries with young adults: Developing Leadership, Community Partnerships, and “People are the New Program.”We made blankets together for St. Paul’s K Street’s homeless outreach while participants initiated open space conversations about intentional communities, traditional parish based ministries, and “church outside the church” work. In the afternoon, Jason talked about the Diocese of Washington’s recent report on young adult ministries. (The report is available here). The Rev. Ginny Wilder of Trinity Parish, Wilmington Delaware led us in Evening Prayer as we finished our time together.
Commonplace started last year as a gathering for leaders in the Diocese of Washington. Early in my tenure as Missioner for Young Adult and Campus Ministries for The Episcopal Church, I asked Jason Evans if he would be willing to invite leaders from surrounding dioceses. He agreed. So many of our ministries with young adults feel like start ups. Many of us are exploring new ideas, and in ministry it helps to have a network of fellow-experimenters. If you are interested in building a network for leaders in ministries with young adults, on and off college campuses, if you’d like to host a Commonplace event in your city and invite leaders from the surrounding area, let’s have a conversation. Commonplace is not a fixed program. We can build something that works for your area. The hope is simply to grow our network of friends and co-conspirators. Let’s have a conversation and work on building a Commonplace. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org