Written by Mary Blaufuss
Ten-year-old children breaking out into song and dance; preschoolers lighting up in awe at writing their ABCs; teenagers finding a safe space to be who they are – Summer Communities of Service interns are there. Trying out social enterprises that meet the needs of excluded communities through coffee stands and community gardens, Summer Communities of Service interns are there. Practicing social justice skills in the midst of movements addressing mass incarceration, water rights and #BlackLivesMatter - Summer Communities of Service interns are there.
This summer, nineteen young adult leaders between the ages of 19 and 29 are testing out their skills and helping the church be church in new ways through the Summer Communities of Service (SCOS). SCOS interns are immersed in vital congregations that already blur the boundaries between congregational life and change-makers in the community. Check out the program and host locations of Summer Communities of Service. Be part of the story through Facebook at UCC Volunteer Ministries.
As Summer Communities of Service is emerging as a national network of local intentional living programs throughout the United Church of Christ and Alliance of Baptists, I have been inspired by congregations that are putting into reality what I interpret UCC General Minister and President, John Dorhauer, to be naming as church 2.0 and church 3.0 in his book Beyond Resistance. Leaders in church of the 21st century need skills to navigate, blur, and erase boundaries so that Christ's body in the world will be authentic and transformative. SCOS host congregations right now are immersing young adults in these situations and providing opportunity for practicing skills for this dynamic leadership. Already alumni are transforming public school classrooms, seminary curricula, public health systems, and global relationships. I daily am inspired by the host churches and by the young adult leaders who are part of Summer Communities of Service (and of the same modeled, year-long Young Adult Service Communities.
I give thanks for the SCOS host churches, current and those that come on board in the future, who are providing leadership development for the whole church. I am inspired and humbled by the SCOS young adult leaders who are in the midst of the journey.
Sparking Ministry Conversations
Where are the places and actions in your church that blur boundaries between congregational life and acting as change-makers in your local community and around the globe? Who are the young adults in your life, who may or may not be involved in church, yearning to explore meaning and make a difference in the world?
The Rev. Dr. Mary Schaller Blaufuss nurtures organizational relationships and encourages collaboration that enables the UCC to accompany people around the world as they rebuild their lives after natural disaster or forcible displacement, and as they build strong communities through sustainable development (One Great Hour of Sharing ministries). Mary can't stop thinking about mission theologies and leadership development. She also loves walking with her young adult children as they move into new stages in their lives' journeys.