Lessons from Episcopal Youth Event 2017: Pathways to Peace
Episcopal Youth Event is a three-day experience for high school students that includes worship, plenary sessions (like keynote addresses), and workshops. It takes place every three years and this year’s EYE was hosted by the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond. EYE started on Tuesday, July 11 with a Eucharist at which the Presiding Bishop preached. EYE ended on Thursday, July 13 with a Eucharist. On Wednesday, participants boarded buses and visited various locations around Oklahoma City, including the Oklahoma City National Memorial where the day ended with a glow stick Compline service. Our Diocesan delegation included two youth: Anica Harris from Christ Church, Pittsford and Wyles Daniel from St. Michael’s, Geneseo. Anica and Wyles were joined by Bishop Singh, Canon Johnnie, and Youth Missioner Keisha Stokes.
Over our three days, we learned a few things about ourselves, our host city, and God's church:
- Episcopal youth are filled with the Holy Spirit.
- The Episcopal Church is a diverse, international, multilingual, supportive, and loving family.
- Oklahoma City is a beautiful city that can teach the world so much about overcoming adversity and fear with love and perseverance.
- When 1,400 Episcopalians gather, there is bound to be a rockin’ party with awesome music, singing, and dancing!
- The youth of the Episcopal Church are insightful and caring problem-solvers. They love Jesus and they want to change the world.
- In the words of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry: “Love God. Love one another. Love yourself. And you’ll change the world”.
- Episcopalians love meeting fellow Episcopalians. We love sharing our stories, our resources, and our excitement about being Episcopalian.
- When given the tools and the adult support, teenagers are an integral part of a successful youth event and their ideas and commitment can never be taken for granted.
- We have so much to be proud of as Episcopalians: our diversity, our acceptance, our love for each other and the world, our youth, our beautiful liturgies, our nonjudgmental attitude, and our openness to the Holy Spirit.
- WE ARE THE EPISCOPAL BRANCH OF THE JESUS MOVEMENT AND WE CAN CHANGE THE WORLD!
Participant offered their reflections:
EYE is one of the most amazing events I have been to. I am not usually someone who loves crowds, but the crowds at EYE were energizing, especially when we were singing. I love church, and it was so cool to be around others who loved church. Plus, how often are you surrounded by 1,500 other Episcopalians? I came back energized and recharged, although a little sleep-deprived. I can't wait to apply what I learned to my life and local youth events. We had an amazing group from our diocese, and even though it was a 20-hour car ride, I can say I was never bored, and I made many new frineds from all around the country and around the world. Plus, we got a picture with the Presiding Bishop, and what is better than that?
Thank you for all your support and interest,
EYE was a great experience for me, from touring Oklahoma City’s museums, memorials, and churches to just gathering together for worship. The group who put together this great event truly worked to give us a wonderful experience, providing us with many gifts, such as the peace coins to spread peace to others. The fun things they organized for us to do rushed us around Oklahoma City teaching us about Oklahoman and Native American culture, letting us see amazing art and providing us with the chance to see the site of the Oklahoma City bombing disaster, which brought the peoples of the Nation together. The entire experience gave us a thoughtful message of spreading peace and love wherever we go, constantly reminding us of this fact throughout our time at EYE ’17.