Episcopal Youth Event (EYE) 2017 – Path to Peace
EYE is the triennial gathering of youth of The Episcopal Church. For this year’s EYE, 1,400 youth, clergy and lay adults, bishops, speakers, and volunteers gathered in July at Central Oklahoma University in Edmunds, Oklahoma. Wow! What a great way to spend a week, whether you are a youth in grades 9-12 or a lucky adult. It is an experience of high-powered worship with great music and fellowship with young people. Participants were able to meet lots of new folks, tour a variety of Oklahoma City sites including the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial, attend workshops, and visit vendor space devoted to ministries within The Episcopal Church. I felt surrounded by the Holy Spirit.
My job at this event was to staff a United Thank Offering booth, where Kayla Massey, our UTO associate staff officer based in New York, joined me. Kayla, who is uniquely qualified to minister to youth and young adults, has great energy and an upbeat personality. As we have learned to do from the Rev. Canon Heather L. Melton, we asked people what they are grateful for. Then, we printed those thanksgivings on pieces of paper and made a blue-paper chain of gratitude, which we draped around our new UTO sign and across the table.
Youth were excited to learn that the collections from little Blue Boxes yielded over $1.2 million last year. One young priest took a Blue Box and, throughout the week of EYE, asked people to fill it. He brought it to our workshop stuffed with change and lots of bills to go to our 2017 Ingathering.
At our workshop on grant writing, participants had great ideas about how to meet the needs of their communities with UTO grants. I won’t be surprised if we see a grant from one of those young people.
But the most profound experience for Kayla and me, when talking to young people about UTO, was that several of them asked, “Could I start UTO in my parish?” Some gave us their email addresses, others the email address of their parishes, but we said, “Yes, absolutely!”
It was a great week and an opportunity to share the ministry of UTO with a group within the Church who will be our UTO leaders in the future.