My brothers and sisters in Christ,
This past weekend, I had the honor and privilege of co-leading the inaugural Sierra Service Project Young Leaders Academy at the Claremont School of Theology. This academy is another step in the ongoing ministries that Sierra Service Project (lovingly known as “SSP”) offers to young adults. This might seem a strange statement because most of the time, we think of SSP as a youth ministry. And, it is. But, the Holy Sprit works in ways much bigger than our imaginations. After years of SSP mission youth trips and working with SSP Staff young adults in orientations, workshops and right here in the local church… I am seeing the Holy Spirit powerfully at work, forming SSP into an articulated, beautiful ministry with youth AND young adults.
Months ago, I approached Rick Eaton, the SSP Executive Director, to discuss my observations of SSP as a young adult ministry. Other clergy got involved, a grant was written… and the Sierra Service Project Young Leaders Academy was born. Then, Claremont School of Theology Dean Belva Brown Jordan and I co-designed the curriculum and co-led two academy weekends with nine SSP Young Adult staffers. We prayed together. We discussed and learned about our personal leadership strengths and weaknesses, fears, anxieties, and concerns. Dean Jordan and I introduced and practiced the art of mentoring with the academy participants. We discussed how to model the servant leadership we see in our savior, Jesus Christ. The theme of listening — to ourselves, to each other, and to God — carried us through our weekends together.
It is powerful to witness the Holy Spirit at work, and where the Holy Spirit will take us… if we listen. After years of SSP youth ministry, I heard the Holy Spirit calling me to step out and be in ministry with the youth (now young adults) formed by that ministry. These academy weekends have been like water to a dry soul — just to listen to these young disciples of Christ and their inspired places of ministry. Just to be a part of their journey, to hear and learn from their stories, their experience of God in the world, and their understanding of what authentic ministry in the ways of Christ looks like has been refreshing, inspiring, challenging and deeply meaningful.
May the coming Holy Week be a time in which we listen — to God, to God’s world, to God’s family everywhere.
May this Holy Week listening draw us closer to the heart of God as we walk in the painful journey of Jesus to the cross.
May we know that our listening is the step that God gives us to hear and see the Holy Spirit already at work among us… and where that Holy Spirit is calling us to — in the days ahead.
From your sister on the journey with you,
Pastor Melinda Dodge