Ministry Welcome Events for Young Professionals
Christian Union's ministry for professionals in New York City hosted a series of events to welcome freshly minted graduates of leading universities to the commercial capital of the world.
This summer and fall, Christian Union New York City held receptions aimed at providing young professionals with spiritual and practical support systems as many settle into new careers, especially in Manhattan's financial sector.
"We're intentionally helping people connect. Some people who come here are self-sufficient and some who come are overwhelmed," said Scott Crosby, director of Christian Union New York (CUNYC).
With the exception of those who attended undergraduate programs in Manhattan, most of the recent grads "need new spiritual community," Crosby said. "They have to learn a new job and learn how to live in a city that can be pretty brutal to people of faith."
At the CUNYC Welcome to the City parties at locations in Uptown, Midtown, and Downtown, Crosby explained how the ministry uses volunteers to offer mentoring, as well as regular Bible courses. During the 2015-16 year, nearly 30 professionals took part in studies that probed Hebrews.
As the ministry enters its fifth year of outreach in New York City it is focusing on accommodating the needs of future leaders. About half of regular attendees also participated in Christian Union's ministries at influential universities.
In particular, the ministry offers community groups aimed to serve young adults with schedules that often hamper participation in church small groups. "By and large, they're not able to be involved in a church small group," Crosby said.
Some of the Christian Union groups meet early on weekdays and some on weekends, and ministry leaders hope eventually to create networking opportunities for believers by geography and industries. During the fall, participants will study First John.
Helping recent graduates transition to the workforce is critical, as studies show a large percentage of believers walk away from church attendance during their adjustment to the workforce, especially when it involves resettlement. "They jump into work, and it's overwhelming, especially in moves to the bigger cities," Crosby said. "When it's high pressure and long hours, it's hard to sustain."
Jeremiah Gill, a healthcare public relations official who previously interned with Christian Union, echoed those comments.
"It can be tough to transition to the New York City workforce," Gill said.
In the city's intense corporate culture, many newcomers encounter an "unbalanced focus on work that leaves people without the means or time to meet other people, do fun things, or develop themselves outside of just work skills," Gill said. For Christians, it can be especially tough to encounter fellow believers in the commercial arena.
Gill noted how he appreciates Christian Union's efforts to provide ongoing intellectual enrichment. "After college, it is rare that you are able to listen to a professor/speaker and learn about a new topic and then engage with other participants about their thoughts," he said.
To meet this need, CUNYC presents a steady diet of forums, salons, and conferences, including the Nexus Conference for Professionals in the spring.
Crosby aims to encourage emerging adults to view their vocational endeavors through the lens of faith. "We're walking with them as they step into this," he said.
As well, Christian Union encourages participants to perform regular community service. "We want them to engage culture in a variety of ways," he said.
Crosby wants believers of all ages to know they are called to reach and transform culture, and he eventually hopes to establish similar ministries in Washington, D.C., Boston, the San Francisco Bay area, and other key cities.
Many recent grads, especially those who were involved in vibrant campus ministry, crave community among young adults in their new settings. "Some transition better than others. Some have spent two or three years in spiritually intense communities," Crosby said. "They have to build 'community' in the midst of new community and all that comes with living in a new place and starting work."