YIP is a promising new youth ministry of the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa. The program aims to keep young adults connected with the church over the long-term. YIP Steering Committee is planning for YIP to become the per-eminent youth ministry for the Diocese.
YIP leaders have developed an approach that mixes experiential learning, group discussion, and individual reflection. This approach is based on research presented by Spencer Edwards at “Ask and Imagine”, hosted by the Faulty of Theology at Huron University in 2016. This lecture shared research from Roland Martinson entitled “Life and Faith Walking: Joining Youth and God in What Matters” which identified eight factors that contribute to the 19-21% of young people who continue to identify with the church after the age of 21. YIP involves five components: work placements; faith formation; leadership skills development; coaching; and Christian mentorship.
In practice, YIP leaders carefully tailor internships around the needs of each youth. Work placements usually take place with one of our community partner organizations, the Anglican Church’s ministries, an Anglican Church Parish or the Diocese of Ottawa. This has included: AMR, Habitat for Humanity, A Food Bank, Centre 454, KAIROS, PWRDF, writing for Crosstalk, The National Youth Project, Long term Care Facility, Day Care Centre, and Citizens for Public Justice,
YIP’s Program Coordinator manages all aspects of the program this includes overseeing the progress of work placements, and ensuring that each youth gets the maximum out of the YIP experience by offering feedback to interns on their work and participation in the program – just like in a real-world setting that includes: goal setting, learning to debrief and reflect on experiences (interview, work, faith, leadership) teaching professional communication, mid-term evaluations and exit interviews.The Coordinator is available to respond to all YIP participants.
The YIP coordinator also debriefs and reflects with the placement supervisors, faith formation team and the mentors twice (mid-point and exit interview) to ensure the experience is the best it can possibly be for the
intern, the host organization and our faith formation team and the mentors.
Each cohort explores faith led by an expert team grounded in the Anglican tradition. Currently two Anglican priests, and a lay person, develop and lead these faith formation sessions
Each intern cohort also learns leadership skills such as: mental health in the work place, difficult conversations; critical thinking; CV, cover letter writing and networking all in an informal setting. YIP leaders plan and deliver these sessions, with occasional help from guest speakers.
Finally, each youth has an opportunity for a specially selected Christian mentor whose job it is to listen to interns as they explore matters of faith and life. This person can become part of the intern’s networking team.
YIP participants receive an honorarium ($975 in total) at the successful completion of each of the 9 month term. This is approximately equivalent to receiving minimum wage for the hours worked at their YIP placement.
YIP is designed for all youth 17-21 years of age with consideration given to mature 16 and passionate 22 year olds.
While they are in the YIP program, youth are expected to make YIP a priority and there is an expectation that they worship with some regularly and attempt to be a visible part of a faith community.
They need to commit about 2.5 hours per week over the September – June program recognizing that some weeks they will invest up to 4.5 hours. Interns spend two hours a week at their work placement. Interns are expected to participate in all learning sessions, communicate weekly with the coordinator and are encourages to attend YIP events.
Youth from other faiths (or from no faith tradition) may join the YIP program. All expectations remain the same.
HISTORY AND GOVERNANCE
YIP began in 2015 as an 18-month pilot funded by a GIFT grant from the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa to St. James, Manotick. To-date 26 youth have completed YIP with 62% continuing to be part of a faith community. As of 2018, 15 parishes have been part of the program (either by having one of their youth participates, serving on the Steering Committee, being a mentor or being part of the Faith Formation team). YIP has operated with financial support from: The Anglican Foundation; individual parishes; private donors and the Diocesan budget.
In early 2018, the Bishop approved centralizing YIP operations in the Diocese offices. This decision reflected YIP’s growing appeal and widening reach. YIP had seven interns from across the Diocese in its 2017-18 cohort. Results have been impressive. Reviews and feedback (from youth interns, mentors, parents of participants, priests of home parish of participants) has been strongly positive. Of the 26 youth who have completed the program, a majority feels a sense of belonging to and 62 % continues to be active in their church community.
The Anglican Bishop of Ottawa oversees YIP. The program has a representative on the Diocese’s Parish Ministries Committee of the Diocesan Council. The YIP coordinator manages and provides the operational support and is the primary contact for all participants. An independent Steering Committee provides direction, oversight and support to YIP. YIP follows the principles and practices set out in embracing God’s Future and by Diocesan policies on inclusion, diversity and safe churches.
The program has five components:
Interns may select to work within a parish setting, at the diocesan office or one of our community partner organizations. Placement options include but not limited to: youth ministry, children’s ministry, communications, special event planning, hospitality ministry or with community agencies such as Centre 454, KAIROS, Habitat for Humanity, PWRDF, and the Food Bank.The Coordinator works intentionally with the interns and placement supervisors to cultivate a meaningful work placement.
The interns meet with the Coordinator and the Faith Formation team for faith formation session 4-6 times during the placement. The intention of this aspect of the program is to provide an opportunity to learn about faith and to ask questions.
The component of the Youth Internship Program provides learning experiences led by community and business leaders from across Eastern Ontario. The leadership sessions encourage to advocate for themselves and others. Additionally, they learn communication, networking and awareness of mental health which are important now and will benefit them in years to come. The interns meet for leadership development 2-3 times a term.
When asked what would make our program better, our first cohort of interns suggested that having their own Christian mentor would be a great additional component of the program. Each intern is assigned a Christian mentor for the year. This is someone from a different age demographic than the intern. This relationship is supported by the Coordinator and provides a sounding board, listening ear or a prayer partner as needed.
Each intern is in contact weekly with the Coordinator by email and/or text. Additionally, they meet every six weeks for to review the intern’s progress. Intentional coaching regarding the work placement is provided. Referrals for additional emotional support or crisis intervention are available, if needed.