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Young Adult Life
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Local Church Initiative

CALLED talks with Lavina Seawright, coordinator for Local Church for the Young Adult Life Initiative.
 
CALLED: Where did you develop your passion for young adult ministries?

Seawright: My experience growing up in the Seventh-day Adventist church was very different from the experiences of youth and young adults today.  In my church the youth had to fight to be heard, we had to fight to get the programs we wanted, and we had to fight to be seen. I vividly remember the General Conference session that was being held in Toronto Ontario, Canada and how badly a group of us wanted to attend.  We got together and wrote a proposal, quoting costs, and formulating a plan for how we would share our experiences with the other youth when it was over.  We wanted them to fund us, to send high school kids to GC, we wanted a chance to do something.  I will never forget the feeling of sitting on that bus and crossing the border in Canada, seeing people from all over the world and learning about how our church functions.  It was a life changing moment for me, one that I am forever grateful for and has impacted my experience as a young adult.  It wasn’t easy, there were people that didn’t want us to go, or that felt it was a waste of money but the church board voted to invest in us.  After that trip three of us applied to attend different SDA universities.  I can’t help but think what would it be like if all our churches were committed to investing in young adults, how much better would the church be?  How quickly will the gospel message spread?  What would the impact be?
 
CALLED: Lavina, tell me the story of how you became the coordinator for Local Church in the Young Adult Life Ministries?
 
Seawright: I received a call one afternoon; this call was a request to join a team of 3 of young adults chosen to be coordinators for the North American Division for Young Adult Ministries. Alongside Alejandra Torres, and Benjamin Lundquist, we made up the young adult coordinators.  We were asked to represent the voices of young adults for the division, a task much larger than the three of us.  We were responsible for essentially all young adult events sponsored by the division; we would do the planning, and execution. 
 
CALLED: What is your role in this ministry?
 
Seawright: As a young adult coordinator we attend various meetings/ advisories, and hold the awesome task of sponsoring the Ignition conference (held concurrently with JCI), assisting with the planning preparation of Impact San Antonio and often present at different conferences and conventions across the division.  Recently the NAD voted to allocate funds specifically towards young adults and this led to the development of six initiatives that would make up Young Adult Life. 
 
CALLED: Tell me about the local church initiative.
 
Seawright: Once the initiatives were chosen and defined, I was assigned the responsibility to lead out a team that would focus on formulating a grant to give back to local churches.  It is with this initiative that we would feel the pulse of young adult ministry; see what’s working, and have the opportunity to invest in it.  The significance of the local church initiative is to represent the local church in a way that has never been done before; we essentially want young adults across the division to take ownership in this church, to find their place, their voice, and their purpose.
                 
CALLED: What have you done so far to accomplish that goal?
 
Seawright: With a team of 5 young adults in ministry from across the division, we moved forward in prayer to develop the grant program currently known as the Young Adult Life Local Church Grant.  The goal of the team was consistent, we prayerfully wanted to make sure the local churches saw the need for young adult ministry, we wanted them to know that the North American Division cared about what they are doing for young adults.  Once the team was established we met and developed the six key components of the grant: Innovation, Consistency, Sustainability, Community Presence, Growth, and Diversity.  Through prayer and much discussion we believe that these six components are important, measurable variables that will assist in the selection of the grant recipients.  The development of the grant application was the next phase, and by far the most time consuming part of the process.  The application was carefully developed over time to ensure that it was user friendly and comprehensive.
           
CALLED: So where are you now in the grant process?

Seawright: In September of 2014 the completed application was presented to the NAD Youth Ministries Department, along with the union directors from across the division.  We are pleased with the final product and even more excited about the buzz that has been created. As we are preparing for an overwhelming number of applicants from all over the division, we want to encourage those of you who are working tirelessly with and for young adults in your local church to partner with us in our efforts.  We ask for your support in prayer and in service, we ask for your commitment to connecting with this population.  Our hope prayer is that these funds will make a difference in your local churches and in turn impact the world and our mission is simple, share Christ, foster community and develop leaders.    

CALLED: Is there anything you have to say to young adults?
 
Seawright: I am humbled to be able to be a part of such an incredible initiative that will support the local churches and further the effort to reclaim young adults. Every day I am privileged enough to work one on one with some of the brightest and awe-inspiring college students and every day I want the same opportunities for them that I received.  I want them to know we are investing in them; I want them to know that this church is their church too. My hope for our church, for the more seasoned members, for those who claim to be on either side of the conservative/ liberal fence; my hope is that we all will take a step back, listen, learn and invest.  Invest in the “now”, in our young adults.