When 24 young Lutherans gathered in Adelaide for the LCANZ’s Young Adult Forum earlier this month, their sense of hope for their church’s future inspired presenters and participants alike.
Aged between 18 and 26 and representing rural and city congregations from across Australia, forum participants heard about and discussed some key issues facing the church and gained a deeper insight into how the church functions, including the role of General Synod. The event, held from 2 to 4 September, was also an opportunity for LCANZ leaders to hear the needs and thoughts of our young people.
Facilitated by Grow Ministries and supported by churchwide departments, the forum also included sessions about worship, the work of the LCANZ in local and international mission, ministry support and public theology, issues to be discussed at next year’s in-person Convention of General Synod and conversation time with Bishop Paul Smith.
Grow Ministries Director Jodi Brook said being among the young adult participants for the weekend was ‘such a blessing’.
‘To listen to the passion that they have for their church, to see their understanding of how the church functions grow and to be inspired by the hope, generosity and positivity which they spoke about the church was such a blessing’, she said, adding that the hope was to have some participants attend General Synod as consultants.
‘Many of the young adults who took part are already involved in ministry or leadership in their congregations and districts. Thank you to the people and congregations that encouraged them to come.’
Bishop Paul said while discussion tables during the forum each included a church leader to guide conversation among the young adults, ‘they really didn’t need the guide’.
‘Each time the groups were assigned a task to work on, they launched into discussion and collaboration with passion and pastoral support for one another’, he said. ‘In their contributions to the whole group, they reflected deep thinking, a sense of common purpose and faithful yearning that the good and gracious will of our Lord be done amongst us.
‘It was a joy to serve with them in this forum. They will certainly be praying for their church.’
Participant John Hillier from South Australia said he ‘gained a sense of hope about a wide range of things’ at the forum.
‘It was good to hear the wisdom and experiences of others’, he said. ‘It took a lot of the sourness I had when I think about the future of the church. It was great to see that our church has many people who are switched on and aware of the problems and challenges we face, and to network with others. We are blessed that Bishop Paul is a great disciple to have leading the church. To me, it was a good reminder that no matter what happens in the future, the church can and will prevail.
‘I think it was also a spur to action as I was finding out about a lot of the things the church does for the first time. So, I will try to help communicate the great resources and support we have available to others in my congregation and beyond!’
Other participants also said they were encouraged to do more in their home congregations and communities, thanks to their experiences at the forum.
Stephanie Swift, from Western Australia, said: ‘I am feeling encouraged to find ways to serve my congregation, such as joining a committee or starting a small group.’
Queensland participant and university student Christian Hansen said he was hoping to transition from involvement in university ministry to church ministry after taking part. ‘I think being enthusiastically involved in the body of the church is something I’m looking forward to doing more of’, he said.