1:00 P.M. EST May 4, 2010 | ST. LOUIS (UMNS)
Erica Williams speaks to participants at the 2010 Assembly of United
Methodist Women in St. Louis. UMNS photos by Paul Jeffrey, Response.
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Twenty-six-year-old Erica Williams, the Washington-based deputy
director of Campus Progress, knows her generation—the Millennial
Judy Woodruff, senior correspondent of “PBS NewsHour” with Jim
Lehrer, also knows this generation of 18- to 29-year-olds, both as the
mother of three children and as a veteran broadcast journalist who has
interviewed hundreds of young Americans in 17 states.
Together, they shared some insights of what is considered the most
ethnically diverse generation in U.S. history with participants at the
April 29-May 2 United Methodist Women’s Assembly.
Some of their findings are obvious to anyone who has observed the
young and tech-obsessed. “They are defined by technology,” Woodruff
said. “Eight in 10 of them sleep with a cell phone in the bed or right
next to the bed.”
But what also sets millennials apart is that they live their lives
differently than their baby boomer parents and other generations, even
as they share similar core values. Anyone wanting to reach them—whether
corporation, community organization or religious institution—must “be
willing to break outside the box,” Woodruff pointed out.
Today’s millennials are defined
by their use of technology, journalist Judy Woodruff says.
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Williams grew up in the church as the daughter of two
nondenominational ministers. Like many her age, she had less interest in
politics as usual and more interest in engaging with her community.
“Many of them think the best way to make a difference is to volunteer,”
Now, Williams has made the shift from civic to political engagement,
and she travels the country helping other young adults do the same.
Through her involvement with Campus Progress, a project of the Center
for American Progress, she lobbies, testifies before Congress and leads a
network of nearly 50,000 working on progressive policy issues.
Members of the Millennial Generation grew up believing what they were
told—that they’re terrific and can do anything they want to do,
Woodruff said. Even though this generation has been hit harder by the
recession, it still has the confidence to change the world, both women
Places of worship can be an arena where young people work to change
the world if religious leaders can figure out how to attract them.
Millennials are less likely to say they are part of organized religion,
Woodruff said, “but when you ask them about spirituality … they are as
likely as any generation to say faith is important to them.”
For this generation, Williams explained, faith “manifests itself in engagement.”
*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or email@example.com.