Field Ed Profiles: Lydia Bucklin '15

Lydia Bucklin

Lydia Bucklin ’15 talks about her experiences with The Well, a hybrid community for young adults.

What did you do for your Field Education unit?

When I first began Field Education I was working full time as the missioner for children and youth in the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa. My ministry required weekend commitments and limited choices I had for a "typical" Feld Ed in a parish. Earlier that summer, I had taken a course with Liz Magill [Program Coordinator of Faith-Based Leadership at EDS] called "Evangelism for Liberation," which called for a final project that involved taking a risk and talking to an unlikely group of people about faith.

I met with a group of young adults who had grown up in diocesan youth ministry, but who were no longer attending church. I wanted to know why there seemed to be a disconnect between the needs of young adults and what the church was offering. I heard from them that they wanted to remain connected to one another and that distance did not necessarily need to be a barrier.

I decided to use my field placement as an opportunity to create an intentional community for young adults called The Well. The Well is a hybrid community that includes a Facebook page, regular gatherings through Adobe Connect video conferencing, and regional in-person gatherings. Currently, there are more than fifty members in this community throughout Iowa and beyond. We celebrated Christmas with dinner at church, Passover at the bishop's house, had a week-long summer retreat, went boating and had Eucharist at a park around a picnic table, and ultimately together have formed a spiritual community that holds one another in prayer and celebrates the joys and challenges of life together.

What were your learning goals going into your Field Ed unit?

I wanted to focus on my skills as a gatherer and host. I saw my role not as a leader, but as a ministry developer. How could I best welcome people into community, honoring the gifts they bring and empowering them for ministry?

I also wanted to focus on liturgical skills, especially innovative ways to transform any space into a sacred space. I created a portable altar with a large tapestry, candles, and icons, and invited the community to bring items that were sacred to them.

What skills and experiences did you bring to Field Ed?

My background in baptismal ministry formed an important foundation for this work. I truly believe that we are each called by God to use our gifts for good in this world. Collaborative ministry has always been important to me. Decisions are made as a group and each of us share in the responsibilities of the community. I heard from young adults that they are often pigeon-holed into ministries such as working with children and youth, when they often feel called in other areas in the church. I was told that it was an honor for many to have an opportunity to share in things like liturgy planning, focusing on areas of social justice, and caring for one another pastorally.

What knowledge and skills did you gain from your experience?

While I was not setting out to learn about church planting, this experience ultimately felt like a peek into what it would be like to start a new church in a community.

I learned that life is very difficult for many young adults, especially the large number of those with financial insecurity. A number of folks in The Well worry about finding a job and more importantly finding something meaningful to do with their lives. They are worried for the state of the world and want to positively impact their community.

How did the unit develop your call to ministry?

This Field Education experience solidified my call to ordained ministry. I had just begun exploring a call to the priesthood during the June term in which I took the Evangelism course with Liz Magill. Gathering this group of disenfranchised young people opened a clear way forward for me, as a bridge maker, someone with one foot in the church and one foot outside the church.

The best part of your Field Ed experience?

We recently gathered as a diocese at the 162nd Annual Diocesan Convention. I was blown away by the increased participation and visibility of young adults in our midst. Many are looking into the Episcopal Service Corps and others are looking to spend a year abroad in service with the Young Adult Service Corps. Our congregations and communities are benefiting from the gifts of these young adults and the blessings are abundant.