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Igniting Young Adults to Change the World

by Anne Marie Gerhardt
April 29, 2012

A new initiative by the United Methodist Church is hoping to ignite young adults to become the next global leaders. The project called Spark12 invests in young entrepreneurs to help them launch innovative ideas to transform the world. “Leadership is the core of our discipleship and defines our future as United Methodists,” said Pacific Northwest Bishop Grant J. Hagiya during the Sunday evening plenary celebration around the Four Areas of Focus. “Don’t know where to start? Do you have a vision? An idea that is justice oriented? Each of us can change the world, sometimes all it takes is a spark.”

The project is named after the 12 disciples who ignited a passion for Jesus Christ around the world. Co-founder, Executive Director, DJ del Rosario says what makes Spark12 different is that instead of telling young adults how to live out their calling, they’re asking young adults to share their ideas and passions. “We will support you with coaches who will walk along side you. We will support you with resources from bishops to lay people to clergy to help you launch your idea,” said Rosario. “We are not looking for people to collect experiences. We are looking for people who have deep desire to change the world who start locally, but thinking globally.”

Co-founder April Casperson, Director of Internal Operations, said throughout her life individuals and organizations invested in her by giving her opportunities to be in service and in ministry roles. She believes Spark12 is way to give back and help others make a difference. “Spark12 is an entry point for young adults who are committed to transforming the world in the name of Jesus Christ,” she told the plenary participants. “These are young adults who are passionate about mission, local communities and passionate about social justice.”

Bishop Hagiya says he’s still haunted by a recent question he received from a newly ordained young adult. “She asked whether the United Methodist Church would destroy her passion.” The Bishop says Spark12 is an inspirational program for the church’s future and this is the time to “widely experiment at every level to reach out to the mission field. It starts with a single spark. This is the real work of the church.”

You must be 18-35 years old to apply and applications are due by June 29, 2012. Spark12fellows receive funding and their ideas will be vetted by mentors with expertise in a related field to help ensure success. The co-founders say they need clergy and laity leaders to serve as coaches as well as financial help. To learn more visitwww.spark12.org.