The past few weeks have been a time of reflection for me as I have been working on reports for the Charge Conference. By the way, our Charge Conference is on Wednesday, November 8th, at 7 p.m., on Zoom. We will meet our new District Superintendent, Rev. Dr. Siosaia Tu’itahi, and Rev. Linda Culbertson, the General Presbyter of the Presbytery of the Pacific, who will also share a few words. We invite everyone to make time to be there and use the Sunday worship meeting ID to join the meeting found on our church’s website on uuc-la.org.
Two conversations in particular stood out and reminded me of the importance of our ministry.
The first conversation was with McKenzie Maresh, the president of our student ministry, the Progressive Christians @ USC. Kenzie grew up in the church, but as a teenager, she found that the church no longer met her spiritual needs. However, instead of walking away from God, as a 15-year-old, she read the Bible cover-to-cover and again a year later. To be honest, in my 40 years of ministry, I have not met another 15-year-old who read the entire Bible twice in a search for God. Impressive.
She told me that in the Bible, she found God. To her surprise, she discovered that the God she found in the Bible was not the God of the church, but to her joy, it was the God that was consistent with her spiritual yearning. Her spirituality is deep, honest, and genuine. So, when she came to college, she found her way to PC@USC, and now she leads our ministry with Gloria, Abi, Chelsea, and Evi. On any given Sunday, you will find Kenzie in all three UUC worship services: UUC morning service, Contemplation, the PC@USC worship at 5 p.m., and the Trojan Church at 7 p.m. She talks about how she feels “at home” when she communes with God. Wow.
Dynamic spiritual leaders like Kenzie and others are in a line of amazing student leaders of the past few years: Michael, Bonnie, Kristina, Melody, Marika, Sara, and Jane, to name a few. As a side note, Kenzie walks more than 25 minutes to church in the morning while Gloria “skates” more than two miles to attend Sunday service worship. And they are never late. Amazing.
The second conversation was at Jubilee Café with Dr. Varun Soni, USC's Dean of Religious and Spiritual Life. He was telling me that Hindu students are meeting other Hindu students whom they would have never met in India, in the U.S. at USC, at a Christian ministry, no less, and many are developing new opinions about other religions. When the news is dominated by religious wars in the U.S. and worldwide, our ministry is taking on a new importance.
We are raising a new generation of Christian leaders with the ability to articulate genuine faith and the ability to contextualize Jesus to the current need for justice and peace. Our leaders know the Way of Jesus.