faith in action

EYA Experiences: Kelly Dunlap

Kelly Dunlap served as the Ethnic Young Adult Chaplain and seminar assistant. She reflects on an experience from earlier this summer which allowed her to mentor and learn from a group young adults which paid a visit to Church and Society.

EYA interns pose for a group picture on the steps of the Supreme Court Building.

We had three groups of young adults visit Church and Society for seminars during the week of June 24. It was a full, but wonderful week. I was able to assist, observe and participate in the seminars with Pfeiffer Youth Theological Initiative, which focused on environmental justice, and Micah Corps, which completed a broad social justice survey. I thoroughly enjoyed talking about the content of the seminars with the participants. I loved hearing their perspectives and more about the work they have accomplished. I was able to answer a few questions, but I also admitted that some of their questions may require continuous exploration for years to come. Like these students, I grew up in the church and was involved in immersion and mission programs. However, these seminars are quite different from what I experienced at their age.

I was vaguely aware of social injustices when I was in high school and college, but they seemed like secondary issues compared to other individual and social concerns. In my circles, faith was more about one’s personal relationship with God, evangelism and charity. Social systems and structures were rarely brought into the conversation. I began to wrap my mind around the idea of systemic injustice during my sociology classes in college. Following graduation, and while working at a food bank, I began to explore how my faith might interact with the social injustices—social sins, we might call them—that I was feeling called to confront.

The fact that these high school and college students are thinking seriously about their faith, social injustice and how they intertwine gives me a lot of hope for the future of our church. They are asking important questions. They are exploring scriptures and news articles, side-by-side. They are bringing their own stories and the values with which they were raised into the conversation. I pray they left these seminars with a sense of purpose and hope. I pray they share what they’ve learned with their friends, their family and their church communities.