I spend a lot of time in my role as a youth minister thinking back to my time as a youth – thinking about things I enjoyed doing, thinking about activities that were fun and engaging. What I always come back to, though, is that it was never about the super fun game we played or the cute t-shirts, or the endless pizza, it was the people and the way they made me feel. The sense of safety and stability was a gift I didn’t recognize until later in my life.
Now that I am in charge with the responsibility of creating these experiences for current youth, I think about these factors often. Last summer, when we started being able to have more large in-person events, the youth ministers in the diocese started talking about what we wanted to do with this time. I remember a conversation in particular with Gabbie Munn (Calvary) and Amzie Williams (Grace St. Luke’s) that we had last spring in Calvary’s youth room over tacos and a looming to-do list.
We started talking about what kept us coming back as youth ourselves. What was the draw that kept us wanting more? We each agreed that it was the large fellowship events; camp, retreats, diocesan gatherings, and so on. We discussed how seeing the wider Church and meeting youth from other churches gave us encouragement and excitement to be a part of the smaller moments/events in our own churches. We made it a goal to have regular opportunities for youth in West Tennessee to gather together for prayer and fellowship. Our conversation quickly became a planning session and before we knew it, we were hosting monthly Diocesan EYC Events. We have had a wonderful first semester of our monthly youth gatherings filled with some new and some familiar faces. We are excited to continue this program and see where it goes. We hope that you will join us!