The Champion Grant allows churches to answer their “what if” questions and “how might we” wonderings with new or expanded ministry ideas. In coming alongside Anglican student ministries with financial support, we are seeing students formed into the likeness of Christ.
The Village Church saw that the high school students in their ministry needed to be cared for and discipled during this phase of life. Village’s youth group is middle school heavy, so Smyth Taylor, Village’s student ministry director, was looking for a summer retreat that was high school specific. To respond to this need, she decided to take them to an RYM Conference in Florida.
The adult leaders were hopeful that this time away from regular routines and rhythms would create new opportunities for students’ faith to deepen. Throughout their week together, students engaged well in the teaching, which included large group worship and teaching as well as elective breakout sessions. Students from the Village Church chose to stay together and attend the same electives. They attended breakout sessions focused on Identity and Anxiety and Depression. Because they were all together in breakout sessions, they also had an opportunity to reflect on those experiences as a group during small group time.
One of the most encouraging parts of the week was the ways that students connected outside of the regular programming. In between sessions, students were talking to each other and to the adult leaders about what they were learning and what questions they continued to have. They loved being at the beach and spent their free time unplugged from devices and building new relationships.
Now months later, Smyth says that she still sees the impact of the friendships that were built during camp. High schoolers who could have easily been overlooked were seen and cared for as a result of this trip. Going forward, Smyth shared that she’s hopeful this trip creates a kind of legacy for high school students that younger students can look forward to. Time away from regular routines in a wonderful place like the beach will always be exciting. Even more exciting is the ways that this trip allows students to hear the Gospel proclaimed clearly.
The Champion Grant exists to come alongside student ministry champions with financial support for their ministry ideas. Some of the most encouraging stories we hear from churches in our province come from students who begin new projects or ministries. At Christ the Redeemer in Nampa, Idaho, immigrant students from East Africa and American students looking for new ways to build relationships started teaching each other dances from their cultural contexts. As they learned these dances, they wanted to share what they had learned along with a Gospel message of reconciliation. Adult leaders in the church came alongside these students to support their dance group and find time for them to further the connection and learning that was already taking place.
The Champion Grant allowed these students to go on a new youth dance retreat a couple of hours away from their home church. Some of these students had been a part of the group from the beginning, while others joined the group for the first time. Rev. Ben Fischer shared, “We began by watching a video of our first dance performance to help the newcomers see what we would be working on. Then we read from Revelation 7 about “every nation, tribe, people and language gathered around the throne,” and we talked about the significance of simply being together as Christians from different ethnic backgrounds – American, German, Finnish, Mexican, Rwandese, Kenyan, Burundian, and Congolese.” The students caught a vision of how this passage of scripture spoke to their ministry and decided to call their dance group “Every Tribe and Nation.”
Throughout the retreat, young people had the opportunity to share meals together, join in corporate worship, learn about discipleship, and, of course, learn and practice new dances together. Both Americans and Africans helped lead singing and Bible teaching.
“When it came to learning dances, we warmed up with American kids teaching two upbeat group dances. Rwandan students then stepped in for the primary objective of teaching two Rwandan dances, and the group began to prepare a performance. By the end of the day, the group had mastered the two American dances and one of the Rwandan dances,” Rev. Fischer told our team.
One of the most encouraging things he shared with us is how this group plans to go forward now after the retreat.
Students are working on their presentation, which will soon include a translation of the songs they use, and they are committed to regular rehearsal time. As they have enjoyed getting to share dances with peers from another cultural background, they are getting ready to take the presentation they have worked on to nursing homes, an elementary school, and more church functions.
As Ben observed the group now, he said, “The group has continued to grow closer, and despite the very different backgrounds, they are finding connection in discipleship and the joy of dance. These relationships are growing now even outside our formal times together.”
In creative ways, these young people are sharing the Gospel and bringing awakening to churches, communities, and cultures. As the Student Leadership Network, we want to continue to see young leaders equipped for a lifetime of Kingdom service.
How do you help students learn to trust each other and build friendships with people they often don’t know outside of church? One church, Grace Church Seattle, brought students on a retreat for this very purpose, with the help of the Champion Grant. Throughout the weekend, students learned about and practiced belonging.
In group teaching sessions, students first explored the modern, Western idea that you belong to yourself and to belong to anyone else is too restrictive. Through personal testimony, Nelson Hall, the assistant pastor of youth and young adults, shared that trying to belong only to yourself is isolating and can increase anxiety. Instead, we can belong to Jesus and to each other. Spending time reading Matthew, students considered the character of Jesus and how trustworthy he is. Students fully engaged in this topic and were honest about what it means to belong to Jesus and each other.
This is what Nelson told our team: “Our last evening (Saturday night) was the richest discussion I’ve seen our group (not only during the retreat but period) have together. Often, small group discussion can be the leader asking a question, it’s quiet, then the small group leader asks another question, and then it’s quiet.
“But what happened Saturday was so beautiful. I gave them prompts before quiet time and journaling about the weekend. During the discussion, I faded into the background. Kids started talking to each other, riffing off of ideas, and pulling in threads from what we learned during the weekend. It was like a discussion we were creating together, like a beautiful melody we were making together. It went on for quite a while and was a beautiful way to wrap up our last evening together.”
Beyond their time in group sessions, students went on a hike together, relaxed in the cabin the church rented out, and even had a just-for-fun talent show on Saturday night. They let their guard down in a way that allowed them to relax and build greater connections as a group. Beyond having space for connection, some students also stepped into new leadership roles.
Two students led in worship through music at the start of every group session. Before the retreat, they chose the songs themselves and helped coordinate their practices. It was an exciting new step for them to lead the rest of the group in worship and use their God-given gifts.
“The weekend didn’t feel like it needed to be the leader show, of us imparting wisdom,” Nelson said. “We led and facilitated, but we also gave students the opportunity to lead. We got to see them flourish, and the Lord was kind in that.”
We know that Grace is not the only church inviting young people to belong to Jesus and the church. As the Student Leadership Network, we value purposefulness and creating spaces, resources, and events that effectively foster life together in Christ and his Kingdom. As you think about the invitation your ministry is offering students to join in the fullness of life in the Kingdom, what new things come to mind? How can we come alongside you as you try a new ministry idea?
As you think about raising the next generation of leaders, consider applying for a Champion Grant. The grant exists to come alongside student ministry champions with financial support for their new ministry ideas.
The Student Leadership Network, along with many of our churches, values household faith. We affirm the central role of the household in student discipleship and call on the entire church to support them. A church in Michigan is supporting the role of parents in discipling their children and finding new ways to connect parents and students together.
Under the direction of Amy Wolthuis, All Saints Holland Anglican Church started Roots, a two-year discipleship cohort designed to equip mothers as their daughters move toward adulthood. The parents are focused on preparing these students for life and mission in the body of Christ and the world. This new discipleship cohort received support from a Champion Grant.
Now, nearly halfway through the cohort’s first year, Amy shared with the Student Leadership Network some of the joys and challenges of this pilot program. Moms and daughters began time together in community with a weekend retreat. As they began to share in conversation, leaders intentionally tried to help participants shift their focus from self to others as well as from individuality to community. After five months of regular meetings, Amy is noticing increased comfort and a greater quality of conversation. Relationships are being strengthened within families and among parents and students.
“As moms, we have done work to brainstorm what we hope our daughters know, do, and experience before leaving our home,” Amy shared. “This has been a lot of good work and we have learned so much already – about ourselves and each other and also how groups coming after us might tweak our plan to better suit their needs and make improvements.”
In addition to focusing on studying scripture together and building intergenerational relationships, Roots includes group service opportunities to bless the surrounding community. Most recently, students made fleece blankets for a local pregnancy center. Parents and leaders at All Saints Holland are being intentional about looking ahead to the kind of leaders they hope their community will have and are helping form these young people into those leaders.
As you think about raising the next generation of leaders and supporting parents, are there financial barriers to the work you feel called to do? Consider applying for a Champion Grant, which exists to come alongside student ministry champions with financial support for their new ministry ideas.
NGLI Vision & Mission
The vision of the Next Generation Leadership Initiative is to raise up the next generation of leaders for the next generation of the ACNA.
The mission of the Next Generation Leadership Initiative is to support dioceses as they discover, develop, and deploy leaders and ministry resources for the Anglican Church in North America.
NGLI Core Values
The Next Generation Leadership Initiative is a key ministry of the Anglican Church in North America, a church that is faithful to the Great Tradition, just in its concern for the needy, and multi-ethnic as the Kingdom is.
The Next Generation Leadership Initiative (NGLI) continued serving the province, refocusing our work to be directly available to both parishes and dioceses. In the fall of 2022, the Rev. Canon Aaron Buttery was selected to lead NGLI. In this transition, we added the Access Leadership Network (AcLN) in 2023 to raise leaders with special needs and support churches who are serving them. We began piloting a network to directly support rectors, the Rectors Leadership Network, and expand their capacity to lead and raise new leaders. During the remainder of 2023 we are working to relaunch our Campus Leadership Network. Here are some highlights of what NGLI leadership networks have accomplished in the last year:
- Each network has produced parish accessible resources to support their ministries and raise local leaders;
- Each network is trained to coach ministry leaders and parishes to develop strategic plans for discipleship and leadership;
- Rectors from 5 different dioceses participated in our first Rectors Leadership Cohort. Two different coaching organizations, GiANT and Spiritual Leadership, Inc, facilitated this cohort;
- NGLI gave 5 presentations at New Wineskins, including a pre-conference offering by Kathy Ayres, Director of Access Leadership Network (AcLN);
- AcLN has trained over 125 people in welcoming, discipling, and inviting persons with special needs into the full life of the church;
- The Women’s Leadership Network (WLN), led by Rev. Virginia Musselman, hosted multiple online events intended to give space for ACNA members to face tough topics through their Imago Dei series, mentoring, spiritual direction, and small group discipleship events each month;
- The WLN is serving 300 women leaders from across 16 dioceses and hosted their first retreat;
- The Student Leadership Network (SLN), directed by Rev. Cn. Aaron Buttery and coordinated by Anna Burden, expanded their support of local student ministry leaders through Learning Cohorts and Formation Cohorts. Respectively, these are aimed at increasing the professionalism and spiritual health of our Anglican student ministry leaders. We have added 101 newly supported student ministries this year;
- The SLN has dispersed nearly $30,000 in Champion Grants to further student ministry in our Province;
- The Antioch Leadership Network (ALN), under the guidance of the Rev. Taylor Ishii, is supporting 53 unique individuals participating in zoom learning and discussion around themes of practicing multiethnic ministry in an Anglican context;
- The ALN saw 2 clergy of color ordained who have been supported by Antioch mentored ministry.
- The Family Leadership Network (FLN), led by the Rev. Liz Stewart, has continued to grow the network to almost 300 ACNA family ministry practitioners who meet regularly for training, resourcing, and soul care;
- The FLN is launching Anglican specific resources for parish Family and Children’s ministry in Fall 2023;
- Multiple diocesan bishops have sought and received direct support from NGLI for their synods, clergy gatherings, leadership training, and event hosting.
NGLI Stories from Parish through Province
NGLI is more than numbers. We are helping current leaders raise the next generation of leaders.
STUDENT: Our team helped a new student minister, Nelson, better understand his context and clarify his ministry values through our Ministry Assessment and coaching follow-up. Nelson was also able to receive financial assistance through the Champion Grant for a student retreat. Fruit from this retreat included more students engaging in general and a deeper level of engagement from other students.
ANTIOCH: During one of our Antioch network gatherings, a person of color on staff at an Anglican Church shared how they were very encouraged to be hearing from other churches that desired to engage with the diverse communities around them. They had never shared these joys and struggles in ministry with an ethnically diverse group of Anglicans because they had never met any in their geographic area. A small group stayed on after the call to share about how they saw God working in their ministry contexts and exchanging ideas about how to reach out to groups of people not well represented in their churches.
WOMEN: Kayla is a lay leader from the Diocese of the Western Gulf Coast who was praying about how to start a Fourth Day ministry at her church. Through some conversations at Lay Connect, WLN’s monthly online gathering for Lay Leaders, Kayla met Ann, from the Diocese of Cascadia, who was already doing a Fourth Day ministry at her church. They started meeting and are now sharing resources with one another for this important ministry. At Lay Connect, women lay leaders grow in their gifts and callings to be the leaders God has called them to be.
ACCESS: Through a monthly virtual gathering sponsored by Access Leadership Network, one of the AcLN team members on the autism spectrum connected with two other women from two different dioceses in ACNA, one who is on the autism spectrum. The other woman is a youth leader, struggling to integrate some female students on the spectrum into her youth group. We set up a separate meeting to pray for each other and share ideas on how that integration might be accomplished. It was wonderful to meet fellow Christians who have struggles similar to mine and to learn about how they deal with those struggles so we can support one another through prayer and conversation.
FAMILY: A church-planting couple who recently became Anglican, and are planting an Anglican church were thrilled to know of a wider network of support for Family ministry. Past experience helped them know something about what is important for children in their church plant, but she was longing for Anglican resources. Finding out about the Family Ministry Network, where she could meet people willing to share resources and offer guidance, was exciting to her. She is soaking it all up as their planting team begins to sort out what will work best for them in a new kingdom building venture.
RECTORS: In our pilot Rectors Leadership Cohort, one particular leader discovered the power of focusing on his own God-given strengths and wiring, while making room for a team around him to utilize their complementary strengths to address their church’s challenges and move more effectively into the mission and calling that God has given them.
One of the projects supported by the Champion Grant was this past summer’s Soul in the City, hosted by Grace Anglican Church in Fleming Island, Florida. Middle and high school students spent a week living in community together so that they can deepen their relationship with Jesus and focus on the needs of others. The week included full days of service, worship, teaching, and time for students to build new or deeper friendships. Students and their leaders served at not-for-profit worksites in two different counties completing projects ranging from yard clean-up to building relationships with children in the community. While the structure of the week is very similar to an overseas mission trip, Soul in the City is designed to support ministry and outreach locally. This helps young people realize that they are invited to live life on mission, even and especially where they live.
Soul in the City 2022 had representation from fourteen churches across six denominations. 61 students were registered, and many students shared about the impact the week had on deepening their relationship with Jesus. Jack McNeil, the Director of Youth and Families at Grace Anglican, shared that “students shared powerful spiritual breakthroughs regarding healing and forgiveness (particularly from broken homes), and recommitments of faith.”
During a week of serving others and participating in the work that God is doing in a particular community, students are often able to experience the love of God personally in a powerful way.
Being surrounded by a Christian community was particularly powerful for the young people who participated in Soul in the City. Jack told us about an exchange student from Britain who experienced being around other Christian teenagers for the first time during this trip. “By the end of the week, he was very emotional saying goodbye to the young men he built friendships with over the week. He was so thankful for Christian fellowship. He expressed being reinvigorated spiritually, and ready to share his faith back at home with greater boldness.”
The Champion Grant helped offer scholarships to six students, which made the trip accessible to more families. If you are hoping to help young people engage in the mission of God, but need financial support for your ministry ideas, the Champion Grant exists to support trips just like this one.
Coordinator for Student Leadership Network
Anna Burden grew up in the church and has felt called to student ministry since she was in seventh grade. She studied Youth Ministry at Eastern University and has experience working with churches and student ministries of various sizes. Anna and her husband, Colin, now live in Quincy, MA with their two cats. She works for the Anglican Diocese in New England as their Family Ministry Assistant. Anna is passionate about helping young people discover their identity
in Christ, their belonging in the family of God, and their gifts for Kingdom purposes.