A two-year effort called the Restoration Generation initiative soon will begin enlisting United Methodist youth and young adults to help rebuild the homes, lives and spirits of people in areas left ravaged by Hurricane Sandy.
Beginning this summer, thousands of youth and young adults will be mobilized to work in collaboration with groups already involved in the storm recovery effort, said Michael Ratliff, associate general secretary of the Young People’s Ministries division of the General Board of Discipleship (GBOD).
The initiative grew from a request for help in December from Bishop John Schol of the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference to Karen Greenwaldt, General Secretary of GBOD.
“We'll be working with Bishop Schol, as well as other bishops throughout the Eastern Seaboard area to connect the recovery efforts that are in place in the annual conferences with youth and young adult groups and campus ministry groups who would be interested and willing to invest their time, energy and resources in the recovery effort,” Ratliff said.
A team of five young adults is being organized to establish an intentional living community for the coming two years to coordinate the initiative. The team will be led by Rev. Hannah Adair Bonner, who currently works part time for Young People’s Ministries in the Northeastern Jurisdiction. She will become a full-time staff person and add this responsibility to her current work.
In addition to Bonner, the team will include two young adults selected from an application process and two assigned from US-2, a General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) missionary program within the United States.
Four additional young adults will be added to the core group for each of the two summers to help coordinate Restoration Generation and connect the young volunteers and their leaders with the recovery efforts.
“I think this is going to be an exciting opportunity to see the church really being the church and shining the Light in an exciting new way,” Bonner said. “We will see folks from all different areas of the body of Christ working together to make something new and exciting happen. We can exhibit what it looks like when the church serves with love and when the church works together.”
The coordinating group will establish a communication network using Twitter, and Facebook, as well as church, conference and campus communications and existing networks of the project partners, to recruit and correspond with volunteers and help them feel connected to the Restoration Generation initiative.
“They will be striving to connect this activity with the spiritual lives of the volunteers, and in specific, with a Wesleyan theology of spirituality and service,” Ratliff said.
The effort was launched with a grant from Connectional Table contingency funds and is a partnership of GBOD, GBGM, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry and annual conferences in the affected area.
“In many ways, this is a pilot project to determine if this kind of model could work in the aftermath of other disasters in the future. We hope to learn from this in order to be able to use it as a model in other disaster responses for young people,” Ratliff said.
As more details about the initiative are available, they will be available online at www.globalyoungpeople.org.