The board of directors of Episcopal Service Corps and the Episcopal Church’s Faith Formation Department announced yesterday that, as of January 1, 2019, the 501(c)(3) organization of Episcopal Service Corps will come under the leadership of the Faith Formation Department. Founded in 2009, Episcopal Service Corps currently comprises more than 20 year-long young adult internship programs and intentional communities around the country. The upcoming move is planned in accordance with Resolution B017 from General Convention 2018, which provides $150,000 for the Convention to “establish a financial commitment toward administration and care among the other young adult ministries in the Office of Formation.”
Despite the fact that Episcopal Service Corps was established only nine years ago, it is the product of years of work in the area of young adult intentional communities in the Episcopal Church. Beginning in the 1980s, a number of young adult intentional communities began forming around the country. By the early 2000s, six of the programs began working on building a collaborative relationship and, through conversations with the Forum for Theological Education and Trinity Wall Street and some grant funding for program startups, Episcopal Service Corps was established to continue supporting existing programs and to work to build new programs. In just a couple of years, the original six sites of Episcopal Service Corps had grown to thirty. Some of those sites have since closed or gone on hiatus.
Although they are all affiliated with Episcopal Service Corps, each individual program functions differently. The programs are committed to common values of “serving others in solidarity, promoting justice in community; deepening spiritual awareness and vocational discernment; and living simply in intentional Christian community” with each program’s interns having some sort of work placement as well as a commitment to their community. Each program also provides housing, medical insurance, and a small stipend, but other aspects of the programs can vary. While most accept interns between the ages of 21-29, although some programs accept interns as young as 19 and as old as 32. Some programs require a college degree while others do not, and programs have varying expectations of religious or faith commitments of interns.
In the Episcopal Church’s statement about this transition, Episcopal Service Corps board president Jason Sierra spoke of looking toward new ways of ministry, saying,
“At our recent gathering, the board, program directors, and various stakeholders discerned that the resources, expertise, and network of the Episcopal Church’s Faith Formation Department, working in an innovative partnership with our program directors, will help unleash new visions and possibilities for ministry with young adults.”
Wendy Johnson, Officer for Programs and Events, who will be running Episcopal Service Corps in the Faith Formation Department echoed the excitement, stating,
“Our Department looks forward to joining these vibrant communities in continuing to nurture the programs and directors, promote the sharing of resources, and identify new ways that Episcopal Service Corps can spark new movements and new visions for young adult ministry in the Episcopal Church.”
Recruitment for the Episcopal Service Corps 2019-2020 program year will begin with a discernment survey available on November 1 and applications will open on December 1.