Simsbury – The First Church of Christ in Simsbury has added three young adults to the church community this year to serve in their new Young Adult Service Community (YASC). The three interns will spend the year working for social justice causes, immerse themselves in the congregational community, and live together in their own 3-bedroom house provided by the church.
The Young Adult Service Community is a year-long experience sponsored by the United Church of Christ where young people ages 21-35 live together and serve a local church community and its partners, engaging in justice work, spiritual growth, and personal discernment. In Simsbury, the three interns will spend a majority of their week working at the Christian Activities Council and Our Piece of the Pie, a non-profit dedicated to helping urban teens and young adults become economically independent adults. The interns will devote time to the church community as well, engaging in all aspects of church life as they learn more about the spiritual and community life of the congregation.
The three woman come from varied backgrounds. Anastasia Damyan is from Minnesota and has an interested in music and youth ministry. Bekah Anderson is from Portland, Connecticut, and recently graduated from Hampshire College where she studied religion and creative writing. Sarah Quinn Donnelly is from Brookfield, CT, and has some experience with community living as a former Silver Lake summer staffer. The three women will live and learn together in a house provided by the church, but they will be on their own for food and supplies, learning to pool their resources as each of them only receives a small, subsistence living stipend and health insurance from the non-profit partners. Using a single car donated by the church, these three will commute together, eat together, and often, work together as they become involved in the local community, the congregation, and the wider church.
"We are delighted to share in this partnership with First Church Simsbury," said Debby Kirk, Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries for the Connecticut Conference, UCC. "We strive to nurture leadership in the CT Conference and this collaboration is a perfect way for young adults to put faith in action in a variety of settings. "
Kirk said that in addition to their service to the Simsbury church, the interns will spend about 6 hours per month at the CT Conference office in Hartford. They will learn about the Conference's three justice ministries: racial, economic, and environmental justice. In the spring, they will each develop a project around a particular area of interest related to Conference work.
The Simsbury congregation was excited to provide this opportunity for the women. Jennifer Sanborn is the YASC coordinator for First Church. She secured the partnership sites, arranged for volunteers to assist the three women with transportation when needed, and coordinates the interns' involvement with the church. Before deciding to participate in YASC, says Sanborn, the church was unsure what to do with the 3-bedroom home, so they decided to look outside the church and see what they could do for the community. That was when they decided that providing a space for the YASC interns would be a ministry they could develop and support. The church has agreed to keep the program going for a minimum of two years.
Simsbury Associate Pastor the Rev. Kevin Weikel says he can already see the energy that the three women bring to the community. He says they have a passion that has begun to spread as they begin to get involved in the ministries of the church.
"If you're going to commit to a program like this," said Weikel. "It means that you're passionate, not just about helping people, but about missions and justice and the church."