It’s an old trope: the lament that young adults are falling away from the church and a sense of despair for the church’s future.
And it may be true: What church looks like, where church happens and how young adults engage is likely changing. But this is nothing new. Popular religious historian Diana Butler Bass describes a familiar transformative rhythm for churches that includes three phases: “letting go, letting be, [and] letting something new come.”
Mennonite Church USA is full of young adults who are committed to following Jesus, attend church and find value in Christian faith and community. They may be pastors, artists, community developers, parents, educators, gardeners, writers, mission workers, musicians, advocates for justice and anti-oppression and many other things. They can be, as Philipp Gollner of Kern Road Mennonite Church in South Bend, Ind., wrote, “folks who simply are there faithfully and, without outspoken activism or academic degrees, carry their family of faith forward.”
Last November, we invited readers to nominate people in their congregations under 40 who are committed to following Jesus, attend church and find value in Christian faith and community. We received more than 120 nominations of almost 90 individuals. From that impressive list of gifted individuals, we chose 20, seeking a mix of gender, racial/ethnic identity, experiences and geography. The following pages include profiles of these.
20 under 40:
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