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Worship resource designed to aid churches celebrating College and Young Adult Sunday

‘Belonging & Becoming’ can enhance worship and help churches support their young adults throughout the year

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service

Photo by Dylan Gillis via Unsplash

LOUISVILLE — UKirk Collegiate Ministries and the Office of Christian Formation in the Presbyterian Mission Agency have developed a worship resource for use this Sunday, Aug. 7, which is College and Young Adult Sunday. Download the resource here.

The Rev. Dorothy Piatt-Esguerra, Associate Pastor for University and Social Justice Mission at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Charlottesville, Virginia, and UKirk at UVA (the University of Virginia), wrote the 12-page resource, which focuses on two Old Testament passages: Isaiah 58:9b-14 and Jeremiah 1:4-10.

The worship resource includes a litany to recognize young adults and the UKirk Beatitudes, written by the Rev. Rachel Penmore of UKirk University of Tennessee and the Rev. Allison Wehrung of UKirk Ole Miss. Among their reimagined Beatitudes:

  • “Blessed are the loud and boisterous and the calm and contemplative, for they will all be heard.”
  • “Blessed are the survivors, for their stories will be heard and believed.”
  • “Blessed are those who find affirmation in the Church and those who have been harmed by it, for they will find peace.”
  • “Blessed are those working to make the world a better place, and those who aren’t sure where to start.”
  • “Blessed are you in all times, in all places, exactly as you are, for yours is the kingdom of heaven.”

“College and Young Adult Sunday is an opportune time to highlight the importance of churches and spiritual communities co-creating spaces of belonging with young adults,” Piatt-Esguerra writes in a section of the worship resource called “Sermon Starters.” It’s also a chance to point out “such communities’ roles in shaping how students make sense of their faith, identities, and vocations and the value of the young adults’ voices and perspectives — their roles as emerging leaders who stretch the Church to take faithful action toward the vision of a more just society.”

The Rev. Dorothy Piatt-Esguerra

“As Jeremiah was called to ‘pluck up and pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant,’” Piatt-Esguerra writes, “so too can new prophets among us help us recognize what systems and structures need to be dismantled to help us build the Church of tomorrow.”

“Our college students and young adults are in a season of exploring what it means to belong and who they are becoming,” said Stephanie Fritz, Mission Coordinator for Christian Formation in the PMA. “We hope you will use these materials to celebrate and support these young adults in your midst.”

As part of the worship resource, two student leaders at UKirk at UVA, Madaline Marland and Sarah Child, share ideas about how congregations can encourage young adults throughout the year. Suggestions are included both for faith communities in partnership with a local campus ministry and those that aren’t, or that want to support young adults who grew up in the congregation while they are away at college.

“When I graduated [from high school], a neighbor gave me a little prayer box,” Marland writes. “It’s a [breath mint]-shaped tin, and you can write down prayers on little pieces of paper that came with it. That’s always been special to me — plus it’s easy to implement, either through direct purchase or by some crafty church people.”

The Rev. Gini Norris-Lane, executive director of UKirk Collegiate Ministries, said the UKirk Network includes over 200 ministries at state, private and Presbyterian-related colleges and universities across the country.

“They are all supported and led by Presbyterians for all students to find authentic Christian community where each person is a beloved child of God and invited to follow Christ on a journey of transformation for themselves and into the world God loves,” Norris-Lane said.

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