The participants of UMEIT: Young Adult Network met in person in Atlanta last week as part of their two-year training program of the Council of Bishops. The UMEIT: Young Adult Network is a COB program that invites young adults from across the connection to give significant time to learning about the Ecumenical and Interreligious Movements, while building their own network and creating projects in their contexts.
The 2022-2023 network has ten participants:
- Lily Maijamaa from Nigeria
- Eliseu Manuel from Angola (studying at Africa University in Zimbabwe)
- Juwille Dimalanta from the Philippines
- Michael Buscano from the Philippines
- Roxanne Bainbridge from Wales (and a member of the Methodist Church of Britain)
- Jennifer Weitzel from Eastern Pennsylvania
- Katie Paul from Oklahoma
- Luke Miltz from Kansas
- Ryan Ware from Virginia
- Gavin Brandenburg from West Virginia
The group meets together on Zoom for two hours every four to six weeks throughout the year, and then they meet in person once a year for four days. They also read four books together, study various topics surrounding unity, and help each other develop ministry projects that will help continue to form ecumenical and/or interreligious leaders in their home areas.
For 2022 they chose to meet in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, so they could learn more about the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM). Rev. Dr. Jean Hawxhurst and Laura Charles from the COB staff were present as the leaders of the gathering.
Unfortunately, three of the young adults could not be present. Roxanne Bainbridge tested positive for COVID the day before she was scheduled to travel to the US. Both Eliseu and Juwille did not receive visas to travel to the US. Zoom meetings were set up with the three, so they could be virtually present for some of the group meetings.
During the four days together, the participants went through the One in Spirit
curriculum together, having some spirited conversations about the tensions inherit to ecumenism. They each presented their initial idea for their contextual project via a MAP (a Ministry Action Plan) and received feedback from their peers. They also met with Roland Fernandes, General Secretary of GBGM, received a tour of the facilities from Mary Lou Boice and Zaira Castillo, and had a half-hour presentation on “mission interns” from Hannah Hanson and Trisha Mann. A couple of the participants also got to have an additional meeting with Didier from the African regional office.
This time together was vitally important to the group, as they were able to connect with each other in ways they cannot online. They shared more deeply about their home contexts, and they understood more deeply the differences in their life experiences. They also affirmed the ideas each other has for creating ecumenical and/or interreligious projects, which they will now begin to hone and prepare.
The group will now continue to meet online throughout the rest of 2022 and beginning of 2023. Their next in-person gathering will be held in England, hopefully in London and at Cliff College.