Though young adults are missing from a lot of churches today, Syd Hielema observes that many in this demographic have a passion for social justice.
When Redeemer University College hosted its first-ever social justice conference, it attracted twice as many people as anticipated, most of whom were young adults.
“I think a conference like this is a signpost pointing where the Christian Reformed Church needs to go,” said Hielema, referring to the event, which addressed issues such as poverty, AIDS, and homelessness. Hielema is chaplain for the college.
Redeemer student Mark De Vos, one of 200 attendees, was interested to learn that plenary speaker Sylvia Keesmaat is intentional about buying clothes that are produced by workers who receive fair wages. He said it challenged him to consider whether his own food and clothes are produced by exploited labor. “I will be held responsible for the way I spend my money,” he said.
Hielema noted that many young adults are looking for faith communities committed to being salt and light in very concrete ways. De Vos, who had come to the conference praying for hope and inspiration, said, “When young adults see someone like Sylvia Keesmaat, we can’t help but be attracted to the way in which they follow Christ.”
Student Stephanie Linker resonated with a workshop on incarnational living. “It was about younger adults bringing about justice and change in their neighborhoods simply by living there and loving the people around them. That’s something that anyone can do, wherever they live,” she said.