By: Christina Repoley
May 29, 2020
Just days after our daily lives shifted dramatically with the COVID-19 crisis, FTE virtually convened the first Community of Practice Cohort. In light of the massive changes that had taken place over the course of the previous three days, I started the meeting asking two questions:
How is your organization already adapting to this evolving moment? What can we learn from one another, even now?
During our conversation, participants expressed financial worries and human challenges faced due to the COVID-19 crisis but despite those concerns, hope and inspiration became recurring themes. Some participants shared stories of creativity and resilience in the face of these new circumstances and others shared ways congregations are supporting isolated young adults or how ministries are reaching out to immigrants and other marginalized people who are facing even more marginalization.
We learned about efforts to offer pastoral care and spiritual direction virtually and exchanged ideas around creative fundraising efforts. Our partners shared ways they are supporting their staff and young adults and learning from each other in ways they had not before. Hearing these stories brought me a deep sense of inspiration and admiration for how our partners were stepping up and responding to the needs of the moment.
One of our partners in this cohort reminded us that in this moment of crisis, we can rely on muscle memory around times in our lives we’ve had to live in this kind of tension.
We can, he reminded us, hold both the distress of the present moment and the hopeful horizon of what is to come.
In April and May, FTE hosted a series of virtual gatherings. Rev. Gail Song Bantum of Quest Church in Seattle, one of the featured leaders, shared that within a matter of hours, she and her team pivoted to holding worship online. She told us that her already a very collaborative and team-oriented form of leadership was one of the reasons they were able to pivot so quickly. I was reminded of the insight about “calling on our muscle memory in times of crisis” and realized that like Rev. Bantum’s team, the reason the Community of Practice Cohort members were able to quickly jump into creative practices to support their communities is because they were already practicing creative accompaniment, alternative forms of ministry reaching those at the margins of traditional church and society, and empowering the ministry of young adults.
When we originally conceived of the Community of Practice Cohort, we could not have foreseen the current worldwide crisis.
We shaped the purpose of the cohort around the question of how might Christian institutions create the conditions where diverse young adults can explore and pursue their passions, purpose, and calling to make a difference in the world through Christian ministry? This question feels more urgent and important than ever, and I look forward to continuing to learn from, support, and equip the inspiring organizations that comprise the Community of Practice Cohort in wrestling with this question. Together we will continue to cultivate each other’s vocational imagination and discernment practices to empower young adults who are exploring ministry as a way to make an impact in our communities and the world.
There could not be a better time.