US-2 Reaches Youth and Young Adults
By Julia Kayser
“Fifty years ago,” says US-2 Ashley Rosser, “the church was a social hub.” However, a myriad of clubs and activities compete for the attention of today’s youth and young adults and often supplant the church’s social appeal. How can we keep young people involved? Ashley insists that “the church can’t just be for socializing anymore. It has to be relevant.”
Ashley should know. She works in Fargo, North Dakota as Associate Campus Minister for the ecumenical United Campus Ministry (UCM) of Fargo-Moorhead, and as a youth director for Grace UMC. On campus, she assists with programming for Sunday night worship services and coordinates Wednesday collegiate lunches with one of UCM’s 17 partner churches. At her own church, she runs weekly youth group meetings and Sunday school. Her main goal is “to walk with these young people in their faith.”
When Ashley says that the church needs to be more relevant, she doesn’t mean that it needs to be trendy. She means the church should meet people where they are and address their everyday questions. For youth and young adults, these questions might be, How do I decide what career to pursue? or How can I form meaningful relationships? People are more likely to make church a priority, she says, if they can see their congregation making a difference in the community and the world.
To this end, Ashley emphasizes service in both of her jobs. Her youth group serves at a homeless shelter and is about to participate in a 30-Hour Famine to raise awareness about worldwide malnutrition. With the campus ministry, she says, “I got to help coordinate the international mission trip.” During the spring of 2011, six students and two leaders spent ten days in Alajuela, Costa Rica. With the campus ministry, she says, “I got to help coordinate the international mission trip.” During the spring of 2011, six students and two leaders spent ten days in Alajuela, Costa Rica.
The small group spent most of its time helping with construction projects at a local church. They took out windows, put up room dividers, painted the pastor’s office, and renovated pews. Ashley said that doing God’s work abroad and growing with the students in their faith was gratifying. One of her favorite parts of the mission trip was worshipping with the locals.
“We couldn’t understand everything that was being said,” she admits, “but you could feel God and you could feel everyone’s love for God. It transcended language.” This has been one of the highlights of her time as a US-2 so far.
This fall, after Ashley completes her US-2 appointment, she will go to Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Georgia to pursue a Master of Divinity. She’s a recipient of the prestigious Volunteers Exploring Vocation Fellowship from the Fund for Theological Education (FTE). She hopes to have a career working with people, perhaps as a community organizer. She can’t quite see the big picture yet, but she says, “I’m willing to be used however God wants to use me.” With her insight and charisma, she’ll be an asset wherever she goes.
To support Ashley’s continued US-2 ministry, donate to Advance #982874.