Faith in the Margins GenNext Program

By Kathleen Thomas

Feeling that you reside in the margins of faith life can be a place of difficulty or a place of strength. Faith in the Margins: for Those Who Struggle with Their Churches was a four-part series that brought GenNext members together to express and reflect on feelings of being marginalized by Church. Sponsored by the Cleveland GenNext group of FutureChurch and organized by a core group of four of its members, participants met Wednesday evenings in October at Visible Voice Books, an independent bookstore in Cleveland's Tremont neighborhood.

The purpose was to have a forum for young adults in their 20s and 30s to openly and honestly discuss their struggles with Church as an institution; to reflect on and move through experiences of marginalization; and to provide a space for prayer about these issues and feelings. Each session focused on a different topic related to questions about being marginalized: What does it look like? Is there value and wisdom in being in the margins? How can we redefine the margins to maintain strength and nourishment?

The format consisted of an icebreaker, opening prayer, topic, group discussion, personal reflection and closing prayer. A particularly reflective part of each of these evenings focused on the brokenness we may feel in the margins. Feelings of betrayal, loneliness, confusion, anger and the yearning for community emerged. Participants supported one another while sharing stories of personal experiences and explored how these provide strength as well as discomfort on their faith journey.

The positive aspects of marginalization were not ignored. One participant spoke about the connectedness she has with others who are marginalized not only by their churches but also by society. Another noted the opportunity it affords her to be open-minded and willing to try to understand other perspectives, and how this allows her to make more informed decisions about her beliefs and spiritual practices and what she wants to instill in her two sons.

Participants expressed gratitude for the opportunity to share candidly with other young adults. There are plans to meet monthly to continue supporting one another through prayer, reflection, and, of course, food and drink. Young adults in their 20s and 30s who might enjoy connecting with our Cleveland group can contact me at


Focus on FutureChurch

Fall 2009


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