Four congregations have joined forces to launch a collaborative youth ministry. Union Congregational UCC in St. Louis Park, Edina Morningside Community Church, Linden Hills United Church of Christ in Minneapolis, and United Faith Community in Buffalo are bringing youth together for confirmation and regular social and service gatherings.
“This is an example of the gift of being in the Conference,” says Rev. Oby Ballinger, pastor of Edina Morningside. “We got connected and by coming together, we now have plenty of youth for our joint confirmation program. Leadership is shared among the churches, which helps us multiply voices and perspectives. We bring different strengths, so it’s a win for all of us.”
Leah Springer, Director of Faith Formation at Union Congregational, says the collaboration not only helps achieve a critical mass of participants but also introduces a wider variety of ideas and helps maintain strong programs when congregations are dealing with limited hours and resources. “From a leader standpoint, you don’t have responsibility for every aspect,” says Springer. “It makes for a better program overall.”
The youth are meeting twice per month and melding social time and confirmation into a holistic youth program. There are plans to introduce mentoring and other intergenerational components as the joint effort grows. “It feels really natural,” says Ballinger. “It’s just a great way for our youth to connect with others.”