Bishop Brian Cole reflects on the importance of Happening, not only for our youth, but for the impact it has on the life of our diocese. Happening #84 will take place December 8-10, 2023 at Grace Point Camp and Retreat Center. You can find our more information about Happening here: https://www.etnyouth.org/happening
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Hi, I’m Bishop Brian. I want to speak to you today about a way to support our youth here in the Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee. Happening is a significant ministry that impacts the Episcopal Church. It allows young people to be led, informed by other young people in formation and discipleship and fellowship and support.
You know, there’s something about peer leadership. There’s something about a young person being vulnerable with another young person to tell their story. It allows our kids to realize we value them. And it’s one thing for me to say that as their bishop, it’s another thing for another young person just to open up about who they are by how God’s moving in their life. It’s like when someone attends a Episcopal church and they see a priest of their generation or a priest of their gender and think, “Oh, that’s me in the church. I can see myself in the church.” So to say, here’s a leader, and this leader is your age. This leader is someone who understands the world that you navigate as a young person right now. This says a lot about the idea that if we’re going to reach people, they need to see themselves already in the life of the church.
You know, Happening is one of those possibilities of a place of deep conversion and deep transformation. Right? That to be taken out of what you know, maybe to a special place that is Grace Point-maybe you already know it as a camp place, or maybe you’re experiencing for the first time-it puts you in a place where we believe something can happen and we give you enough time and attention. Asking you to give a couple of days is asking you to invest in something. And knowing that adult leaders and youth leaders have invested lots of time. I think when we give that level of intention, we shouldn’t be surprised if kids have a transformative experience.
I think so many people will talk about: how is it that God moved in your life and now you feel called to be a priest or feel called to be a lay leader as an adult? People will start with a camp experience or a happening experience. When I met someone for the first time and now we’re lifelong friends. This has been true for me in the Diocese of Western North Carolina and Lexington and now in East Tennessee that many people, their deep, real journey of faith wasn’t just baptism, wasn’t just confirmation. It was Happening.
I want to encourage you to encourage your youth to participate. It’s a significant ministry that’s impacted our diocese and dioceses across the country. It’s a way to raise up leadership to recognize our kids as leaders in their youth, in their work, in the life of the diocese. So please give it your support at this time.