Responding to the spiritual needs of teens is about building trusting relationships. The Episcopal Church in West Tennessee strives to walk with young people and recognize their gifts for ministry, their questions about spirituality, and their desire to make a difference in the world.
In 2022, observing an absence of young voices and perspectives represented at the diocesan level in West Tennessee, youth ministry staff from several parishes started to explore with Bishop Phoebe Roaf ways that high school-aged Episcopalians in West Tennessee might have greater voice and impact on the work of the church.
“It is important that young Episcopalians in West Tennessee have a clear line of communication with leadership,” said Bishop Phoebe, “but it hasn’t always been clear what that would look like. For example, most diocesan-level board meetings occur during the school day.”
Jeremy Demarest, who serves as the youth ministry head at Calvary Episcopal Church (Memphis), lead the charge in collaborating with the Bishop and diocesan staff in developing a blueprint for a Diocesan Youth Council (DYC).
The aims of the DYC are fourfold:
Give young people opportunities to be in dialog with adult leadership about diocesan affairs
DYC members will be in active conversation with the bishop.
Teach practical leadership and event planning skills
They will plan, organize, and execute YOUnited events for the youth of the Diocese of West Tennessee.
Empower our youth to advocate for themselves and their needs in our wider communities
DYC will serve as a hands-on leadership opportunity for young Episcopalians in West Tennessee.
Equip our future leaders with insight into church governance
Serving on DYC will provide a bird’s eye view of governance structures in the Episcopal Church operate.
Any Episcopalian youth in West Tennessee, grades 10-12, can apply to be a member of the inaugural class of the West Tennessee DYC. The term length is two years, or until the member has graduated from high school. Meetings will take place over Zoom so that location is not a barrier to involvement. The time commitment for leadership on the DYC is four hours per quarter.
For more information, including application deadlines, go to EDWTN.org/Youth.