On Friday, April 22nd, a group of twenty twenty-somethings from all over Boston gathered at 40 Prescott Street for food and fellowship. Most of the young adults learned about the event through the Life Together intern at their church. Seth, Liz, Eliza, and I each brought adults from our parishes: St. Andrew's in Framingham, St. Chrysostym's in Quincy, St. Paul's in Brookline, and Grace Episcopal Church in Medford. We were also excited to welcome young adults from St. James's in Cambridge, whose thriving 20s/30s brunch group was started by Life Together alumnus, Nicholas Hayes. We were joined by a Life Together fellow, Adiel Pollydore later in the evening, and one young Episcopalian from Lincoln even arrived after spotting the event on Facebook!
Guests enjoyed the nice weather on 40P's porch with drinks and snacks, before moving inside for a home-cooked vegan chili dinner with cornbread and salad. Many guests began to discover all sorts of connections from their childhood parishes to shared experiences teaching in the Boston Public Schools. We opened and closed the event with a word of prayer and thanksgiving for the opportunity to be with each other.
One of Life Together's main goals is to raise up new leaders in the church who are empowered to reform and re-imagine what Church means. The young adult service year program has helped to built a strong network of fellows and alumni who rely and strengthen one another's ministries. Friday's event was all about bringing more young adults into that network, to see and experience that they are not alone in dreaming of how church could be better.
Unmarried twenty-and-thirty-somethings who attend Episcopal parishes on Sunday mornings are often overlooked by the Episcopal Church as a whole. As a result, church can sometimes be an isolating experience with the most exciting ministries geared toward young families with children or the elderly. Life Together fellows at Episcopal parishes are working to change that, through innovative spaces like The Crossing's Thursday night Eucharists or Contemplative Action Circle gatherings and through reshaping the traditional parish settings to be a more welcoming place to our generation.
The idea for the event was actually started last year when Mark, the Micah Fellow at St. Andrew's Framingham, and I realized that we were both creating 20s/30s fellowships at our parishes. We wanted to bring the awesome people we had met together, and also to share ideas about what we'd learned. The young adult fellowship at Christ Church in Waltham graciously hosted a cookout between the three parishes last May. This year, we knew that it needed to happen again, this time bringing in Life Together fellows and their parishioners from other church site placements. My hope is that this event continues as an annual tradition!
Like last year, part of our goal for the event was also to share ideas about what's been working at each of our parishes. We learned that the fellowships are diverse in their approach and each attuned to their own particular context. Some of the Episcopal Parish fellowships, like St. Andrew's and St. Chrysostym's, meet monthly or semi-annually. St. Andrew's group was started as a Leadership Development Initiative project by Mark and a group of four lay leaders. Their fellowship's programs include fun outings, educational gatherings, and community service projects. With the help of this year's Micah fellow, Seth Robinson, they've organized the next cross-parish fellowship event--a Habitat for Humanity build in Wayland, MA on May 7th!
Other groups, like St. James's and Grace Church, meet more often around church services. St. James's gathers for brunch each Sunday after the morning service, while Grace Church gathers for dinner after the 5:00pm service. Over two years, Grace's fellowship has grown from a monthly gathering to Sunday dinners with between 10-12 folks each week. It'll be exciting to watch as it grows and changes with new leadership next year!
The next opportunity to meet us and connect with our growing network will be at Love Matters on Saturday, May 14th from 4:00-6:30pm at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in downtown Boston. Love Matters is an end-of-the-year celebration and fundraiser that brings together current fellows, alumni, donors, partners, supporters, and friends of the program. You can get your ticket and RSVP here!