Joining with young adults in reforming the church
January 30, 2014
Greetings to members of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board, mid council executives, and friends,
Members of the council of the Boriquén Synod in Puerto Rico joined the Synod Executive Forum meeting in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, on January 19. We were inspired. Salvador Gavalda-Castello, the synod’s most recent moderator, spoke and translated for the group. As the 32-year-old described how the synod and the church have given voice to young adults, his reflections resonated powerfully with the mission and vision of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.
When we crafted our young adult directional goal—one of six in our mission work plan—we intentionally stressed “joining” with young adults in the reformation of the church. This synod has done just that, with positive results. Salvador explained: “The church used to give youth ‘youth work.’ Now they give youth a voice. It’s hopeful that the church wants to include young adults in the mainstream.” He then went on to describe his service as moderator. Although the church in Puerto Rico is challenged by economic conditions and finances and has had its share of conflicts, Salvador said that lack of money would not hold the church back. Even in times when there was no money, “God provided helping hands,” he said.
God’s abundance is evident. The synod’s camp is reviving. The synod has joined the 1001 movement. New worshiping community Sweaty Sheep is scheduled to take part in a marathon and to help build trails at the camp. Young adults Stephanie Quintana-Martinez and Enid Quintana Torres have recently served—and Michelle Muñiz is currently serving—as Young Adult Volunteers. New moderator Rev. Iris Dalila Santoni-Ortiz noted the synod’s missional attitude: “Worship is inside the temple; service is outside.”
The camp, El Guacio, is led by young adult Lisi González Cubero. It is a key to keeping young adults in the church. They come as children, continue through youth, and then stay involved as young adults. El Guacio clearly plays an important role in the church.
A shout-out of gratitude was given to Congregational Ministries Publishing (CMP). Our new Spanish-language curriculum—translated by a diverse group representing several different Spanish-speaking nations and territories, including Puerto Rico—is available electronically, making it easily and inexpensively accessible. Ruling elder Conrad Rocha, synod executive / stated clerk for the Synod of the Southwest, had worshiped on Sunday with Salvador in a congregation that is excited about moving to CMP-produced curriculum written in Spanish.
Just look at what can happen when we, in the words of our directional goal, “empower, engage, and join with young adults in reforming the church for Christ’s mission”!
PS. Mission coworkers Shelvis and Nancy Smith-Mather, two young adults serving in South Sudan, were home in the United States for the holidays when the most recent violence broke out. Watch their interview on CNN, as we together pray for the people of South Sudan.