Community Place+: Hope of Zion?

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by David Donoghue, Ontario, Canada
Re-blogged from: And Another Thing…

This summer I had the very good fortune to be able to attend the 2014 Northern Ontario Reunion, and I was deeply impressed throughout the week by the leadership and ministry provided by Community Place+.

What is Community Place+?  It is an initiative in Ontario that is striving to be a new expression of the Community of Christ church experience.  As I understand it, it emerged out of our Senior High Camp program, from a desire to keep the camp experience ongoing, beyond the confines of camp itself.

What I really admire about Community Place+ is that it is a young adult initiative.  Most of it’s key people are young adults, and the events that they plan & host are structured with young adults in mind.  However, the events are not “young adult events” but are open to everyone.  All are welcome, and being an inclusive group is part of Community Place+’s mandate.

Community Place+ describes itself as follows:

“Building a Universal Community of Action, Founded in Love, Acceptance, and Equality – Community Place+ offers unique and exciting programs by drawing from the successful camping model that has affected our lives for generations. We invite you to experience community building in action as we provide opportunities for all ages to participate in purposeful programming all year long.”

Watching Community Place+ personnel during Northern Ontario Reunion only confirmed what I have known for quite some time.  They are leaders.  And they are ministers.  And that leadership and ministry, during Reunion, manifested in a variety of ways, including overseeing the A/V system, facilitating classes, and organizing special events for junior high and senior high participants.

More importantly, they provided leadership and ministry by being ideal role models that other young adults, as well as younger people, look up to.  This is, in my opinion, one of the most important things that Community Place+ is accomplishing.

Community Place+ has done something that is extremely difficult to do.  They have found a way to retain and engage young adults.  In one of my other blogs, I talked about how important it is for Community of Christ to become a 21st century church, and I’ve stated that to become so, we need to be a church that is relevant, which resonates with people, and which is redemptive.

Community Place+ has done that.  It is doing that now.  It is providing spiritual experiences for young adults (and others) which are redemptive, and which are relevant, and which, very clearly, do resonate with people.

I’ve also blogged (here & here) about the importance of expanding our ministries of invitation, relationships, and community building.  Again, Community Place+ is doing all of this.  A lot.  And the results are impressive.  More than that, the results are just downright exciting!

Community Place+ excels at being deliberate with invitation.  It excels at nurturing holistic relationships, and it excels at building sacred community.  How could one not be excited by this?

But is success with young adults important?  Some people might not be so sure.  So let me be clear.  It is extremely important.  It is imperative.  We need to get this right.  And we need to do so right now.

In fact, the importance of involving our young adults has been recognized by President Veazey, prophet of the church, who said in his 2009 “A Defining Moment” address:

“I am aware of the frustrations of some youth and young adults with the seemingly slow pace of congregational life in response to mission. I also am aware of your disappointment with not having opportunities to serve and lead as you feel called. In response, let me say the church needs the insights and gifts of all ages to be healthy. Congregations that ignore this principle do so at their own peril.”

Read that last sentence again: “Congregations that ignore this principle do so at their own peril.”

President Veazey continued by saying:

“I also know words are not enough. We need to do something now. I and other church leaders personally commit to meet with young adults in various locations to listen to concerns, perspectives, and hopes. We want to envision the future of the church with you. We want to explore models of ministry, mission, and leadership to open more doors for your participation…

…Young adults, the church needs you. We need you now. We need you to help us become who we are all yearning to become.”

The above words are a testimony of how vital active participation of young adults is to the church.  We need young adults to drive our present and our future.  Its not one or the other, its both.  We need them to drive our mission forward, and we need them to position us to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

As part of the church, which is called to be a “prophetic people”, our young adult members who have established Community Place+ have prophetically envisioned an alternate and dynamic expression of “church”.

Read the rest of this blog post here

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