Youth Commission Presence at Convention 2018
By Sarah Barnett
Missioner for Children, Youth, Camp, and Young Adults
Last year, 436 young people across ECMN built Beloved Community together. It happened at our seven collaborative retreat and camping ministries. Then at ECMN’s Convention on Sept. 14-15, twenty-five members of our new Youth Commission showed up and stood on stage courageously sharing their ‘why’ with the hundreds of Episcopalians who were gathered.
Why do they come to retreats and camps?
Why do they attend and serve their faith communities?
Why are they here this year at Convention?
During the course of the convention weekend the youth shared sentiments like this, individually and publicly:
“I wouldn’t practice walking around my school looking for kindness in others if I hadn’t received this love first at TEC and camp.”
“Camps and retreats are the best weeks and weekends of my life.”
“When I’m at this stuff, even being here this weekend, I get to just be here, I get to just be me, and I don’t have to be or do anything else I’m supposed to.”
“This is crazy. We build this kind of deep community in just a handful of days a year together. We should honor that, and be together more, and invite all of the other Episcopal kids out there into this great gift.”
“Experiencing this love has changed me forever. And I want to be on this commission to find a way to keep this stuff going so it’s there for all the little ones coming.”
“When I was moving back towards Christianity from atheism, I realized I needed a more diverse experience of our shared faith. Nothing was more compelling than being on this Youth Commission and working with my peers from around the state.”
“We are called to be evangelists. Every email, every invite to something is an act of evangelism. We never know what God is going to use to bring his dream for the world into reality.”
The young people on ECMN’s new Youth Commission know their ‘why’ deeply. And some of them have been acting on that ‘why’ for almost six years. It’s why there is a need for a Youth Commission at all. It’s why 436 young people got to be together this year. They are the ones who have been asking for this, and they are the ones who have and will continue to build it.
In 2013, some middle school kids asked for their own retreats so they didn’t have to wait until high school to go to TEC. So we built Pre-TEC. In 2014, the camp kids asked for a second week of camp beyond Music Camp. So we built Quest Camp. These things grew for a while and then the kids started asking for a statewide TEC program, where all their friends could be together. So we built Minnesota TEC in 2017. Then, last summer, these kids asked me to call them when camp and TEC were being planned for next year, so they could join in. So we are launching this Youth Commission, where they can get on video calls once a month and do exactly that.
Our young people in ECMN are being the church right now. In big and small, local and collaborative, ways they are bringing their dreams into reality. Everyone in ECMN can and should be so proud of them and learning alongside them. Every faith community in ECMN is invited to have 1-2 young people in Grades 9-12 on this Youth Commission. Their work is theirs to discern, and I can’t wait to see the fruit of these evangelists in our midst.
Click here to learn more about the ECMN Youth Commission and nominate a youth.
Click here to read a reflection from Youth Commission member Ryan Berlin about his experience at ECMN Convention.