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April Newsletter

Dear Friends,

In the 10 years I served as campus pastor at Whitworth, I was always so interested to hear how students were thinking about church. It was quite common for first and second year students to “church-hop” on Sunday mornings. This usually meant jumping in a car with few friends and trying out a new church each week. Most of them were new to Spokane and free from their parents choice of church, which allowed them to explore the ecumenical landscape for the first time. I would listen to them tell me what they saw, how they were welcomed, how they described the worship and the preaching style of the pastor. I realized how crucial it was for me to listen well to these young students as they began to share so much that informed what this next generation is longing for in their faith development. Now in the OCE, we spend much of our time listening to the young people in our midst and hearing their questions about church, their concerns about institutional religion, if they should return, how to re-engage or if church still is even necessary.

In mid-December we received an invitation from our friends at Parish Collective to apply for a new grant focused on the faith formation of young adults. It did not take us long to agree to join them, and we are thrilled to announce that we have received another generous grant from the Lily Endowment to establish the Grounded Faith initiative. The central aim is to connect established neighborhood congregations with young adults to explore connections between the embodied presence of church and the faith formation of young adults. Beginning in the summer of 2022, the program will gather three churches in five different cities around the country for training, equipping, story-telling and creative opportunities to design new neighborhood ministries in their local contexts.

You can read the full press release here >>>

We are thrilled at the opportunity to learn from and listen to the next generation during this crucial time in church history – especially as we consider how to share what we learn with you. I trust God will use this project to reveal new and creative opportunities for the church to engage with new generations.

Blessings on your Holy Week.

A Few Updates

Join us on Thursday, May 5, for an evening with theologian Willie Jennings. He will speak in the Robinson Teaching Theatre from 7-8:30 p.m. The lecture is open to the public. The OCE is also hosting a special dinner for ministry leaders from 5-6:30 p.m. Jennings is an ordained Baptist minister and has served as interim pastor in several churches. We can’t wait to hear what he has to share with us! You can register to attend the dinner here >>>

The Summer Fellowship Program is excited to send out 24 student fellows to 17 ministry sites across the country. This spring, our fellows are busy preparing for their summers of ministry with trainings that cover topics like "what is ministry?", mental health and burnout, and entering new communities. We can’t wait to share more about what our fellows do this summer.

Last month, the city and the church calling community gathered with the Spokane Police Chief to listen and pray together. This group of ministry leaders is planning field trips to visit key city & county offices through the rest of 2022 to learn more about how the city operates, discern opportunities for the church to be of service, and pray for the people running different areas of our city.

Hope for Creation Conference | April 22-23

You are invited to this interfaith conference hosted by St. John’s Cathedral in Spokane. The event is designed to share a vision of hope for creation; spotlight local caretakers of land, water and air; and renew Spokane's leadership on environmental care.

The conference brings together experts from multiple fields (like theology, forestry, agriculture) and features the voices of civic leaders, faith communities, and local tribal members to offer a holistic view of the environment and how we can best care for it together.

You can attend online or in person, with registration fees starting at just $10! We encourage you to check out the schedule and line up of speakers at the link below.

LEARN MORE

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We are grateful for your partnership. We’d still love to hear from you in our audience survey – take a couple minutes to fill it out here >>>

Mindy Smith & the OCE Team
oce@whitworth.edu