BRIDGE: Building Religious Inclusion, Diversity, and Generational Equity

Funded by the Lilly Endowment Inc., The BRIDGE launched at Candler in 2022 to create and foster new partnerships with local congregations in ministries with young adults who are in their twenties.

Many young adults face challenges that did not confront previous generations, such as lifelong cycles of economic instability; increased experience and witnessing of violence; generation-unique benchmarks for adulthood; significantly high reported rates of depression and loneliness; and navigating digital, virtual, and in-person relationships.

Consequently, many congregations feel (and are) unprepared and ill-equipped to minister with young adults as they face these challenges. The resulting chasm can make it difficult for young adults and churches to see each other as beneficial relationship and ministry partners.

In these challenging times, people of faith are pressed—and inspired—to find new ways of creating community and supporting spiritual growth. Therefore, The BRIDGE strives to create connection and healing among and between young adults and Christian congregations by:

  • Strengthening communities and invigorating the 21st century church by connecting the gifts and values of young adults in their twenties with the divine mission of congregations.
  • Addressing the social, generational, and theological breaches that frustrate relationships and possibilities for transformation.
  • Creating innovative spaces that connect young adults’ talents and needs with the lived wisdom of churches, community groups, and Candler initiatives.

To accomplish these objectives, The BRIDGE is partnering with Fear+Less Dialogues, an organization founded by Associate Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling Gregory C. Ellison II that creates unique spaces for unlikely partners to see gifts in others, hear value in stories, and work for change and transformation in self and others.

BRIDGE Innovation Hub

In the fall of 2023, the BRIDGE Innovation Hub will convene its first year-long cohort of congregational teams to learn, develop, test, and implement new approaches to ministry alongside young adults. This cohort will engage in a series of educational and participatory experiences through the late summer and early fall in preparation for Innovation Labs in winter and spring 2024. There, congregational teams will discern and develop novel ministry ideas that will be funded by the BRIDGE initiative. Our cohort findings will be compiled into resources meant to inspire and equip other congregations and faith leaders with new practices to responsibly engage and support young adults as they grow and develop in faith and community.

The BRIDGE is interested in partnering with churches who:

  • Are enthusiastic about engaging in ministry with young adults
  • Commit to develop and experiment with new and innovative ministries 
  • Have an existing population of young adult leaders in and/or around the congregation
  • Exhibit a desire to see gifts in others, hear stories of unlikely partners, and remain open to change in self and others.

Contact Us

The BRIDGE team is directed by Professor in the Practice of Youth Education and Peacebuilding Elizabeth Corrie and Associate Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling Gregory C. Ellison IIRyan Snider serves as program coordinator and Michelle Ledder is the Fear+Less Dialogues consultant.

For more information on the program, please contact Ryan Snider