One of the diocese’s most successful programs – and best kept secrets – is doubling in size.
Since 2009, 37 people have gone through the Youth Ministry Apprenticeship Program, providing outstanding youth ministry in parishes across the diocese.
To build on that momentum, the diocese has doubled the program’s funding, providing training and mentorship for 12 aspiring youth leaders in 2020, up from the usual six.
The diocese has also hired two former graduates of the program, Cormac Culkeen and Alexandra McIntosh, to serve as coordinators. They succeed the program’s founder, the Rev. Christian Harvey, who stepped down in 2019 to become the executive director of Warming Room Community Ministries in Peterborough.
The expansion is necessary to keep up with the demand for trained youth leaders in the diocese, says Ms. McIntosh, who is also the youth ministry coordinator for York-Credit Valley and a divinity student at Trinity College. “Churches really want to hire youth ministers, but there just aren’t any,” she says. “They will have postings for months and months, but nobody will apply.”
A youth leader for the past eight years, she says youth ministry is one of the most effective ways for parishes to share the gospel and create disciples. “I came to faith through youth ministry and think it’s one of the most organic, natural ways to talk about Christ. It set me off to seminary.”
Parishes and clergy play a key role in the program. The apprenticeships are served in the parishes and graduates often stay on to work as youth leaders in those churches. Candidates for the program are often volunteers who are already involved in youth ministry or feel called to it; in many cases, they are recommended by their clergy.
The program provides two models of apprenticeship, both of which last for nine months. The first, called Job Shadowing, is for volunteers in a parish who feel called to youth ministry and want to work as a youth minister when their apprenticeship is finished. This is a 10-hour per week, paid position that runs from October to June. The apprentice will work with a mentor, who will observe and participate in their ministry. Apprentices will also meet with their peers, complete assigned readings and attend events and conferences. At the end of the year, the program coordinator will help the apprentice find a position in youth ministry in the diocese.
The other apprenticeship model, called Parish Partnership, is for parishes that are looking to start a youth ministry program or to increase the youth ministry that is already happening there. In this model, the parish hires, or works with the program to hire, a youth worker. Between October and June, the program will pay for half of the youth worker’s salary, up to 10 hours a week, with the parish paying the other half. This means that a parish can have a youth worker for 20 hours a week but, for the first nine months, will pay for 10 hours. In the time paid for by the program, the youth worker will be expected to meet with the apprenticeship coordinator, complete assigned readings and attend events and conferences. The expectation is that in June, if everything has gone well, the parish will take on the hours that the program has been paying so that the ministry, and the youth worker’s job, will continue uninterrupted.
Apprentices must be self-motivated and have an openness to learn and wrestle with a diversity of ideas. Preference will be given to those who are from an Anglican background, but people from other denominations are welcome as well. Upon completing the program, participants are expected to commit at least some of their time contributing to youth ministry in the diocese for at least one year.
To qualify, parishes must show a bold and creative vision for youth ministry, a willingness to continue funding youth ministry after the nine-month program is over, and to support and care for the youth minister as a member of the parish team.
Bishop Jenny Andison, the diocese’s link bishop for youth, encourages clergy to recommend the program to volunteers in their parishes who are called to youth ministry. “As we get increasingly serious in our diocese about forming living faith in the next generation, YMAP is proving transformative in training people as youth ministers. If you think someone in your congregation might have the gifts and passions to work with young people, YMAP is for you!”
For more information about the Youth Ministry Apprenticeship Program, contact Ali McIntosh at [email protected] or Cormac Culkeen at [email protected]. Information is also available on the diocese’s website, www.toronto.anglican.ca.