UCC Invites Young Adults to Start a Conversation

In April 2024, young adults from around Upper Columbia Conference gathered at Walla Walla Eastgate Adventist Church for the second annual Let’s Start a Conversation. 

This event, hosted by David Jamieson, UCC president, and Jeff Wines, UCC director of young adult, youth and club ministries, allows young adults to mingle, eat together and discuss tough conversations. This year the group doubled with 40 young adults in attendance.

“We had a really good group come together to eat and discuss with each other,” shared Wines. “There were good conversations that touched on a number of topics that our young adults are concerned with.”

The evening began with a meal and mingling. About half the young adults in attendance were currently in college and the other half were just out of college. Jamieson shared a short devotional to end the Sabbath about his personal walk with God and his choice to follow Jesus as a young adult.

The conversations began after the meal, with Jamieson and Wines facilitating the conversation. Several topics were discussed, including the desire for community, friendlier churches, LGBTQ+, mental health and the need for intergenerational relationships and worship. The conversations were honest, authentic and Bible-based.

Many of the young adults expressed their appreciation of the question-and-answer format. “It was cool being a part of a conversation like this and brainstorming with people who think similarly,” said one attendee.

Community, friendlier churches and intergenerational relationships were a reoccurring desire among young adults. Many wish to attend churches that are more open and engaging with young adults. They want multiple generations to come together to create a community. At the core of their desire is a need to have intergenerational relationships — relationships that provide mentorship, guidance and a safe space for learning.

A common response among the group was that they want to learn from older generations. They want to see a handoff in church responsibilities but still want to be supported. At the same time, they don’t want the older generations to leave or feel pushed out. The young adults expressed a yearning to work together and for every group to feel included.

“They don't like the us versus them mentality,” shared Wines. “They don't want it to be boomers against Gen Z. They feel like there’s been a lot of segregation in churches and it's unhealthy.”

Jamieson asked the group their thoughts on worship style and how it can set the tone. The young adults shared that style is not that important if worship is intentionally between them and God.

Overall, the young adults reported that they are looking for authentic community. They want to discuss tough topics and have a deep relationship with God. Many crave community but don’t feel welcomed because of judgment or not feeling needed. They don’t want to show up, they want to be involved at church and in the community.

If you know a young adult or wish to be included in the next event, a young adult retreat this fall, email Wines at jeffw@uccsda.org to be added to the group text.

Featured in: July/August 2024