Photo: Lauren Winner, author, will be one of the plenary speaks for School for Leadership Training at Eastern Mennonite Seminary, Harrisonburg, Va., Jan. 19-21, 2015.
The Pew Research Center made news with its 2012 report that the fastest growing U.S. “denomination” was the “Nones,” the “religiously unaffiliated” who answer “none of the above” when asked which religious community they belong to.
One-fifth of the U.S. population and one-third of adults under 30 do not identify with a particular denomination or church. Yet many signal deep spirituality through belief in God, prayer or a connection to nature or the earth.
What does it mean for churches if a growing number of U.S. residents claim “none of the above” when asked about religious affiliation? The School for Leadership Training at Eastern Mennonite Seminary (EMS), Harrisonburg, Va., helps to address this question with a Jan. 19-21, 2015 workshop titled “A Church for All Generations in an Age of ‘Nones.’”
Michael King, vice president and dean of EMS, calls the training an invitation to explore “how we connect Christian faith, churches and communities with the millions who are actually passionate about faith but often equally passionate in their conclusion that institutional/denominational structures of the day have lost or betrayed integral, authentic connection with the deep journeys of the soul.”
In addition to workshop leaders presenting on a variety of practical topics, speakers include Lauren Winner, assistant professor of Christian spirituality at Duke Divinity School, and Dan Aleshire, executive director of The Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (ATS).
Winner, a historian and author, provides reflections on life in a small parish and addresses spiritual practices for the 21st century.
Aleshire will address “The Christian But Not Religious Church for the Spiritual But Not Religious: The Shifting Role of Religion in American Life.”
Participants will also take part in worship experiences “to help us celebrate the healthy tension between deep roots and new branches reaching for new horizons,” said worship planner Les Horning.
This event will be helpful for church leaders, youth workers and anyone who wonders about the future of the church.
“I’m excited about attending this event because it speaks to what many youth workers are observing in their congregations,” said John Stoltzfus, conference youth minister for Franconia and Eastern District Conference of Mennonite Church USA and campus pastor at Christopher Dock High School. “Youth are engaging in church and expressing their faith and spirituality in different ways. A key part of our task as youth workers is to be attentive to these shifts and to empower youth to be attentive to the new movement of the Spirit in our world. What are the spiritual longings of the next generation and how can we help them create faith communities to respond to these longings?”
Registration and more information can be found at www.emu.edu/slt.