Telos Project Interns Angela Tsahouris & Adam Murphy at the Young Adult Initiative Consultation
Dorothy Daniel, Telos Team Member
Dorothy Daniel, a Telos Team member, joined Director Jenny Haddad Mosher and Telos interns at the Lilly Endowment Inc. fall consultation for the 12 seminaries and theological schools that received Young Adult Initiative grants. After the consultation, we captured some of Dorothy’s thoughts on how attending helped her better understand the nature and scope of the Telos Project, both for her own parish, St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church in Orange, CT, and the wider Church.
What did you learn at the consultation that broadened your understanding of the Telos Project?
Holy Cross is more than a seminary where Church leaders come from. It is an academic institution—and Telos was funded as an academic project meant to build an informed foundation for ministry-creation. I think that’s important and encouraging to remember, because it gives valuable structure to what we create as parish teams. The outcome of Telos is not just going to be that young adults can, for example, have a retreat once a year and just to keep doing whatever we’re doing.
What learning from the consultation applies to the Telos work at your parish?
Even though it was stated in the application [to be a Telos pilot parish] that this is a research project with the intention to create ministry, it can be challenging to keep this in mind. In discussions amongst the St. Barbara’s team on how to spend our mini grant money and what to do, it was easy for our team to start trying to come up with some program right away—we want to make it cool and get everyone there. But we needed to remember that we really need to collect the baseline data on where young adults actually are right now, why they do or don’t come to church regularly. Our parishes all need to be reminded that Lilly’s intention in funding this young adult initiative is research—a lot of research. This puts responsibility on each Telos team to collect the data points we’re committed to filling.
What did you learn from the other schools launching young adult initiatives?
The other Lilly projects are locally focused. Seeing that the Telos Project will affect Orthodox parishes on a national level was helpful and exciting. The entire Telos process is designed to challenge us. We should be proud of that and the level of trust that Telos Project leaders have put in all the pilot parishes. It’s a big responsibility and we should be reflective about it.
The conversations that Telos is challenging us to have with young adults have more weight than just typical conversations. This is all leading to an end goal of collecting info, analyzing it, and making changes. I understood more what Telos was trying to do when I saw what other Lilly groups were doing. Already in Telos, we have been given very concrete tasks—mapping exercises, including aspects of field observation, interviews, data collection—these are going to let us get our hands dirty and will give us info—and the success of Telos depends on how fruitful an effort is put in by the teams.
To see the mapping exercises that Telos pilot parishes undertook in the first stage of their project, visit our Resources section. Photo: Telos Project Interns Angela Tsahouris & Adam Murphy at the Young Adult Initiative Consultation