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Group brews up 'Holy Grounds' at Christ UMC in Salt Lake City

October 14, 2015
Photo courtesy Emery Hannon, Christ UMC, Salt Lake City, Utah
Story submitted by the Rev. Jean Schwien
Christ United Methodist Church, Salt Lake City, Utah


What do you get when you combine one college sophomore who really wants to “come home to God,” a newcomer searching for a spiritual space that fits, and a college freshman who is starting a new stage of faith and life? “Holy Grounds.”

In the fall of 2014, the young adult ministry at Christ United Methodist Church in Salt Lake City, Utah, was created by inspired and determined young people who wanted a spiritual time and space that matched their interests and age group. Meeting weekly for coffee and conversation, the group quickly expanded to include young adults from 18 to 30 years old. The leadership group of “Holy Grounds” consists of Desiree Jensen, Emery Hannon, Graham Larsen, Rachael Palmer and Alicia Simons.

Now in its second year, “Holy Grounds” has been a ground-breaking project for Christ UMC. The (older) adults in the congregation had tried for years to come up with a winning formula to attract young adults and college students. Turns out the young people need to create, coordinate and expand all on their own!

With financial support from the congregation and the Rocky Mountain Conference Board of Higher Education and Ministry, “Holy Grounds” now regularly includes 12 to 14 participants. Sunday morning gatherings have expanded to include a retreat for high school girls on the challenges of life after high school, and a variety of mission/service projects. On Christmas Eve, the group prepared 500 goody bags with candy and a card with a greeting from Christ UMC. They challenged candlelight service worshipers to take bags with them and give them to someone who had to work and be away from their family on Christmas Eve. The project was a great success and will be repeated this year.

When asked about the success of “Holy Grounds” as a model for young adult/college ministry, Pastor Jean Schwien said, “Trust the young people and get out of their way! Provide them with the resources they need, and a great deal of encouragement, and God will work wonders.”

This story is part of a "Student Spotlight" series for United Methodist Student Sunday on Nov. 29. To learn more about United Methodist Student Sunday, click here.