Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Youth Ministry: Starting Over

Youth Ministry in our diocese blew up a few years ago -- especially in the South. There were several events: the collapse of TEC, the inability to continue funding the diocesan youth coordinator, a floor fight at convention. I am sure I don't know the whole story. But this is what I know of how things have been since then: there are very few dynamic youth programs in Nevada and we have had huge difficulty getting participation at the diocesan level.

So this year we are trying something new: we have created two youth networks -- one northern and one southern. Representatives from these two networks will constitute the Diocesan Youth Council. Having two geographical networks, we hope, will get more people involved and allow them to meet face to face more often.

The Southern Youth Network met for the first time last Sunday. It was a good, creative, hopeful meeting -- looking forward, not backward. It's time to move on. There was talk of sponsoring New Beginnings for the younger youth, promoting the Provincial Youth Event in Salt Lake City next summer, and having a Southern Youth Network gathering for music.

We need more Youth on the planning committee which will meet again on November 1. But the events will be for everyone in all the southern churches, not just for those who go to the planning meetings.

The essentia l foundation for a vital youth ministry in Nevada, in my opinion, is children attending camps at Galilee. I suspect that the youth program we had before would have survived the controversies if the youth had previosly formed a solid base of relationship built at camp. Under Stuart Campbell's leadership, Galilee is back. Kids from all over Nevada, even in Arizona, are befriending each other at camp. In five years, I believe we will see the strongest youth program we have had in a long, long time -- if ever.

What we are doing today is just a beginning. We need youth planning thier own program. It is essential that we set up the structures for youth leadership now. That is what we are beginning. My hope is that, in time, more congregations will form collaborative ministries such as the one at Trinity - St. Paul's. I hope more congregations will offer support to youth who are not the children of members, as St. Martin's in the Desert does now. I hope we will see genuine youth ministry specialists in our congregations. At the diocesesan level, I hope to see the day when we have New Beginnings in diverse places, Happening in diverse places, a Diocesan Youth Event in the years when there is no EYE or PYE. I hope to see more youth mission trips like the one we had this summer and a partnership trip to the Philippines.

Youth ministry will not be back full force immediately. But we have begun. Youth ministry is not a problem to be solved with money. It is a mission opportunity to be embraced with our hearts and the investment of our lives.

3 comments:

Clelia Pinza Garrity said...

I agree with you about Camp Galilee. It can be an incredibly powerful base of formation and bonding for youth both from the parishes and from the community in general. We also need music - lots and lots of music - both at Camp Galilee and in our parishes.

Bishop Dan said...

Music seems to be the key at All Saints.

Robert said...

The problem is that many people think of Galilee the way they think of church, it is nice to have when we need it for baptisms, weddings, funerals, etc., but we don't think about what it takes to have it there when we need it. Likewise, it is nice to have Galilee there when we need it for summer camp, vestry retreats, etc., but what does it take by way of regular support to make it happen? In your blog, you speak of Galilee as the connecting point for youth throughout the diocese. Will Galilee be there for them when they need it? When I talk to other "old-timers" like me, I hear story after story about how Galilee changed their life. That is not just history, that is happening now, this year, this summer, today. That is the business we are in as Nevadans, Episcopalians, Christians. The diocese needs to step up to the plate to keep the spirit of Galilee going for future generations.