By Stuart Mann
As a young person growing up in the parish of St. John, Elora, the Rev. Matt Adams wasn’t aware of the network of Anglicans and other Christians in the rest of the country and around the world. It wasn’t until he started studying for a Master of Divinity degree at Wycliffe College that he realized how big it was—and how little he knew about it.
“I realized there was a large disconnect between young people in the local parish and the rest of the wider church,” says Mr. Adams, now an assistant curate at St. Paul, Bloor Street. “It was obvious to me that there was a need to connect young people with the wider church.”
In March, Mr. Adams will see his dream become a reality as Wycliffe College hosts young Anglicans from across Ontario who are taking part in a new leadership program called Arise. “It’s our first time doing this and we’re pretty excited,” he says.
The program will see 15 teenagers in grades 11 and 12 stay at the Wycliffe College during March Break. They will take part in college life, including meeting the professors and eating with the students, taking part in worship services, and learning community- and team-building skills. They will also visit some mission projects in the city.
Although the program will involve spiritual formation and discernment, it’s not just for teens who feel called to ordained ministry, says Mr. Adams. “I think we’ll draw some kids who are considering pursing ordained ministry, but I hope it will also attract kids who are interested in the arts, business or whatever—young people who know they’re going to live out their faith in whatever context God places them.”
He hopes the program will encourage and equip the youths to be active in their home parishes. “I hope they will go back with a renewed sense of vision for how they can be involved in their parish, and that they’re going to be difference-makers and step up into positions of leadership and be the change they want to see within the life of their parish.”
The director of the program is Gayle Doornbos, a PhD student at Wycliffe College who has led a similar program at Calvin College in the United States. In addition to Wycliffe, the program is supported by a number of Anglican churches, including St. Paul’s. The program has received a grant from the Anglican Foundation.
Mr. Adams hopes that if this year’s event is successful, it will include more students in the coming years. “One of the reasons why I’m so passionate about this is because I feel that amidst all the drama and conflict in the church, it’s important that we don’t lose sight of building God’s kingdom and God’s church. That means investing in future leaders and the future of the church by equipping, mentoring and developing young Christians to grow up in the faith and become part of our rich Anglican heritage.”
Spots are still open for Arise. If you know an Anglican in grades 11 or 12 who might be interested, have them email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Wycliffe College at 416-946-3535.