By Sarah Barnett

Missioner for Children, Youth, Camp and Young Adults 

To the ECMN community,

This past weekend youth from all over ECMN gathered at MN TEC #2. With 114 people from 18 faith communities, we filled nearly every room and hallway as we lived our liturgy together. We told the sacred story of Holy Week through drama and worship, we shared our own stories of faith, we ate common meals, and we celebrated the great surprise of God’s unfailing love. Then we went back out into the world, knowing - as one of our seniors put it - “where to look for God… which isn’t often in a burning bush or in a booming voice on top of a mountain. God’s love comes through one another.”

MN TEC #2 is the second TEC retreat designed to be an experience for all Episcopal youth and their friends, statewide. This is a new chapter, rising from a long tradition of 300+ TEC retreats happening in various regions of Minnesota since the 1970s. We are extremely grateful to everyone who has been and is presently a part of this meaningful ministry. ECMN’s Youth Commission designed the first statewide MN TEC last April at St. Mark’s Cathedral, and 24 of these same teens also designed and attended MN TEC #2.

As this ministry grows and continues, fall MN TEC retreat sites will rotate around the state, and spring MN TEC retreats will be at St. Mark’s Cathedral, where MN TEC #3 will be held on April 26-28. The Youth Commission will continue to meet monthly on video calls to make plans not only for MN TEC, but also for Pre-TEC (Gr. 6-8) and ECMN’s five summer camps. Mark your calendars now for all of these great 2018-2019 Youth Events, where the youth community of ECMN grows in friendship and faith. They are truly building beloved community together and learning how to share it in their own lives.

Please take a moment to sit with these closing words from our two seniors who were the Youth Directors of MN TEC #2.

My youth minister told me that I needed to go through TEC to be confirmed. At that point all I had heard about TEC was, “It is great. You should go.” My youth minister said, “All you need is faith.” And so I went on faith. When I left I knew one thing. I wanted to come back. I wanted to be a part of this family. And I did. Now I’ve been through 9 TEC retreats. And some of my friends from my table at my very first TEC are here today. TEC has honestly changed my life. I know now that there are people all over this state, and all over the country, who have this huge Agape love for one another that comes from God. There are kids here from so many churches around the entire state sharing this love. And I know anyone here, or anyone in those churches, would take you in or take a phone call whenever you need it. We are one family. We are one MN TEC. One of the most amazing things about TEC is that it’s not really run by the adults. We are given supervision, but it’s amazing because we are able to put in our own opinions about what works and if something doesn’t work we can change it. This is all up to us. It is our thing. The Youth Commission is going to keep working on it until it’s more and more perfect. This right now is the church today. The youth are the church of today, not the church of tomorrow. We are the youth community of ECMN today.

- Jack Denton, Grade 12 (Ascension Episcopal Church, Stillwater, MN)

I have felt a tidal wave of God’s love here at MN TEC. It hit me like a truck. It wasn’t coming from a burning bush or a booming voice on the top of a mountain like the bible says. It was coming from the people around me. It surprised me, this feeling of God’s love. And that’s not because I had a hard childhood or because I had never felt love before. I think it’s because this was the first time that I realized how holy love is. And how holy God’s love is. And how God’s love is everywhere. This realization that I continue to have at every TEC weekend sparks this sense in me to notice it outside of TEC, too. When I went home from my very first TEC I began to feel God’s love everywhere, coming from every person around me, whether I knew them very well or not. We are now getting close to the end of this MN TEC weekend together. But it doesn’t mean it is the end of love. Or the end of God. Or the end of the friendships and the beloved community we’ve made here. It’s just the end of the weekend. I hope that this could maybe be also the beginning of a new chapter. A new outlook. A new feeling. A new sense of who God is. The beginning of a new feeling of being closer to God. And of knowing where to look for God. When I first went through TEC I found a community that loved me for me. I didn’t have to change myself to feel accepted. I kind of do that at school without thinking. I’ll change my personality a little bit based on who walks through the door to act more like them. But here I feel like I am truly, truly myself. So that is what TEC has taught me. To find God’s love in every person. If you search, you will be surprised by where you find it and who you see it in. There’s this quote that I’m probably not going to say very well, but it’s like “Even when it’s very dark or very dim, there is still a little bit of light there, there always is.” So look for that light of God’s love everywhere in everyone. So if you’re feeling alone, if you’re feeling a lot of pain, know that there is always someone there to love you. It’s kind of like light and dark. No matter how much pain or darkness there is, there will always be love. No matter who you are or where you come from, you are loved.

- Fiona Ehling, Grade 12 (Calvary Episcopal Church, Rochester, MN)