Meet Savanna Sullivan, Director of Young Adult Programs

Thanks to Corrinne Haulotte, Winona State University, Winona, MN for the interview and article!

Savanna Sullivan, was part of our LuMin Staff Conference this past summer in Austin, TX. No stranger to the South, Savanna was born and raised in South Carolina and attended Clemson University. It was at Clemson that she met campus pastor Chris Heavner and became involved in Lutheran Campus Ministry. “I could gush about LCM forever,” Savanna said. “I wouldn’t be in this position now without the faith formation and investment that happened with me.” A biology and philosophy major, Savanna had no intention of going into ministry. “But, that was okay at Clemson. What a gift it was to know I was still being invested in!”

Now, as the Director for Young Adult Programs for the ELCA, Savanna feels called to connect all stakeholders in young adult ministry. Part of the impetus for such a passion is that very investment that was made in her in campus ministry. She is spending time now on the front end of her time as Director to understand the challenges and dreams in order to create a cohesive mission for young adult ministries over the next five to ten years. “Many young adult ministries have their own boards and staffs, so I hope to be a touch point to connect all the ministries we do with young adults and imagine ways we can better engage young adults in the church.”

I wondered what that looks like regarding specific areas of ministry in our church. The list is long and nebulous:

  • Lutheran outdoor ministry
  • Life and Service (yearlong service, like Young Adults in Global Mission)
  • Peace Not Walls
  • International justice
  • ELCA Advocacy to an extent
  • Programming to transition from youth ministry to young adult ministry
  • Programming for young adults of color to lead trips to the Holy Land
  • and, of course, Lutheran campus ministry.

“It’s big and overwhelming, but as I get to know ministries in the first several months, I don’t want to draw lines. There are creative ways we can connect with each other that would be mutually beneficial.”  Such collaborative cohesion takes a lot more effort to move a mission and live into that, but Savanna believes it will be worth it. She named a truth many of us embody every day in campus ministry: young adult ministry is not the future, but the way our church is living and breathing now.

Savanna hopes to create a more cohesive group for life and service alumni, develop and deepen relationships between alumni and their campus ministry, facilitate mission development for young adult ministries, and to connect outdoor ministries with campus ministries for a more robust connection between the two.

It is obvious that Savanna appreciates and works toward collaborative ministry. She is an excellent resource with a strong dose of joyful passion. “The more I know, the better,” she said. “If there are significant events, update me; let me know. If you have a story to share, I’d love to raise them on my platform at Churchwide, too.”

If you have a story to share, an idea for young adult ministry in the ELCA, would like a talking partner, or would consider being a resource, contact Savanna Sullivan at Savanna.Sullivan@elca.org, or (773) 380-2774.