Friday, February 3, 2012


9 months ago, I was asked to take part in a vision-casting “Design Team” put together per request of the Leadership Table. I spent my first full day living in DC at this gathering of strangers with no idea what to expect. It wasn't long before these strangers became friends, though, and our energy was contagious as we shared visions and dreams of what a new, exciting, and innovative opportunity for young adults might look like.

Lots of long, difficult days and a couple of meetings later, we had an outline of something new. A few months later and it was suddenly 2012 as I found myself flying into Nashville to meet with the team that will carry forward this project. I am really excited about how this project has taken shape. Somehow, this end project simultaneously looks nothing like what we expected, and yet it is full of everything we hoped for. This end project is what is now being called “Spark 12.”

I couldn’t be more excited about Spark12. It feels like the church could finally be doing something right here! How so? For starters: it is young adult led. Not just led, but it is actually being implemented by young adults on staff at multiple general boards and agencies. Who knew: Methodists can play nice AND trust young people to carry it through! (jokes, jokes)

So what exactly is Spark 12? In short, it is being described as a social justice “incubator.” It is a short (12-week) opportunity for young adults to take their own innovative ideas and receive funding to run with them. These ideas are lived out and given a running start with the support of community and the feedback of mentors and experts in a related field. My favorite part of all of it? That we are finally building something new that is, by design, intended to not be US-centric. We are a global church, and its time we start acting like it. That was one of the many clear, non-negotiable themes we had throughout all of our discussions. I for one can’t wait to see what that looks like when the applications start rolling in and the current Design team gets to help the fellows implement it. Watch out, world: Spark12 is about to catch onfire. (sorry, I couldn’t resist)

One last thing: it is never too early to start thinking about being a part of something new. Applications open up on April 1, so I invite you to spend time thinking about how your idea could be launched with Spark 12!

For more information on Spark12, be sure to check out their website, follow them on Twitter, and “like” their Facebook page. You can also check out other articles such as this one by UMNS.

Jen Tyler is a co-facilitator for OnFire as a part of her role as the Associate for Movement Building at MFSA. Jen is appointed to MSFA as a General Board of Global Ministries Mission Intern. She has a Master of Divinity from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and is a member of the Dakotas Annual Conference, where she is pursuing ordination as an Elder in The United Methodist Church.

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