The Hub is a grassroots movement of Canadian youth and young adults working to connect young people with “the liberating love of Christ.”
The Hub community network is a grassroots movement of Canadian youth and young adults with a mission to connect young people with “the liberating love of Christ.” Executive director Adam Cresswell recently joined EDGE’s Zoë Chaytors to talk about the ministry.
Adam’s passion for his work radiates from him from the moment he begins to speak.
The need for The Hub’s activities grew out of a perceived gap in opportunities for youth and young adults to have powerful faith experiences in groups in the year between summers at United Church Christian camps, and after aging out of these camps. These young people raised questions for leadership teams that weren’t easily dealt with:
- How could communities of faith keep the intensity of the camp experience going through the year, for those who could return?
- Where was the place in communities of faith for young people who were too young to join adult groups, but needing the support of camp environments that they’d aged out of?
- How could home churches come to function as communities of faith for youth and young adults who, in their lives, considered camp that space?
The Hub is a grassroots response to these questions. Created to keep the camp experience alive and to “connect young people with the liberating love of Christ,” The Hub is a network of home churches–sub-hubs–that meet for faith formation, relationship building, social events, or to do service projects together. Periodically, this “community of communities” joins together for large group events like holiday worship, mini services on justice or theology, or intergroup youth events at churches that don’t have a youth program. The Hub uses an “age and stage” approach to loosely define it target demographic of youth and young adults, considering both physical age and the characteristics of the life stage in which people find themselves. This brings a wide variety of experience, sharing, and connection to the sub-hubs, The Hub podcast, and to its mentoring programs.
The Hub started in 2015 with seven to eight in-person sub-hubs in Ontario, monthly events, and little desire to do anything online. The pandemic changed things, as it did for everyone–online sub-hubs sprung up across Canada and in other countries, and with them questions about how The Hub can best keep the organic, spontaneous structure that it prefers to use as it supports its community of youth and young adults.
But Adam believes that the questions COVID raised are among those that The Hub (and the church) need to be asking in general: When people aren’t physically coming into the churches, when the rituals and routines that have previously worked can’t get them there, what do we do now?
“We need to go back to the ‘why?’” Adam says, after talking about his belief that the church is undergoing a metamorphosis. The change may ask communities of faith to shift from thinking about how to get more “butts in seats” to considering whether we’re doing the right things to get them there.
“Step back and see it in a new way,” Adam says.
That sort of self-examination is never easy. But Adam points out that it’s not required, either.
“God gives us the dignity of risk, and choice to be left behind if we want. But to move forward we need to move go back to the why and the liberal lens of Jesus and living as a jubilee people.”
A “jubilee people” looks, to Adam, like the “community of communities” that make up The Hub, where the people involved actively try to flatten hierarchies like colonialism and white supremacy. They may not look like the church as we know it, as they’ll be open to experimenting with new ideas of what church, defined how it can best serve (not manage, Adam is careful to clarify) the communities around it. A jubilee people asks, “How can we keep our young people radical enough to keep serving Jesus?”
Adam’s belief that “completely unknown and amazing things will happen” once communities of faith start asking themselves, “What is the why?” comes from his work with The Hub and its members. He is excited to see how God really is restoring all things, even though the world does look bleak.
“It’s just ridiculous to see how much good stuff is happening, and that’s just The Hub.”
— by Sarah Levis, Coordinator, Community Innovation Hub, EDGE. This article was originally published in the Embracing the Spirit newsletter.
The views contained within these blogs are personal and do not necessarily reflect those of The United Church of Canada.