Have you ever wondered why youth who have gone to church most of their lives so easily drift away from Christian community when they leave home? That was a question asked by Nisqually tribe members here in the Northwest about their own youth abandoning their traditions and culture. And what the Nisqually found is that they were able to turn this trend around as they began to tell the story of what it means to be Nisqually to their youth. They taught their children their traditions, incorporated their children into the celebrations, and gave their children peer communities through which to wrestle with the big questions in their lives. And, most importantly, they had the elders of the tribe teach the stories, and tell their own stories, of how the Nisqually character informs who they are in the broader world.
At Epiphany, we have taken a page out of the Nisqually playbook and developed a curriculum to help our children understand the deep value of being a Christian. We are doing this by creating four pods of learning that, in their sum total, will help our youth know their identity as Christians and the value it has in their lives and in the broader world. These four pods are: confirmation preparation, master classes, community building, and liturgical service.
Instead of running a traditional confirmation class in anticipation of the Bishop’s visit June 2, 2019, we are weaving classes on specific Christian topics into our Sunday morning youth curriculum. These designated blocks of classes will enrich our youth who have already been confirmed and count towards confirmation for youth who would like to be.
Master Classes on the Christian Life
These classes are a way of showing our youth how Christian life is lived out in the world. These classes will feature wise members of the Epiphany community telling their stories and talking about their work and how it is influenced by their faith or about topics that have sparked their passion. It is our hope that the youth ask them how work, relationships, and God all mix together to define who they are and how they are in the world. These classes will meet the weeks there are not confirmation classes or brunch.
In the Kingdom of God, relationship is primary. We say that all the time here at Epiphany. That being the case, it is always our hope to be building community among our youth. We want to do this in a multitude of ways, including: once a month youth group on Sunday evenings, singing with the Choristers, participating in the Christmas pageant, or helping out with service and activities.
As many of you know, the order of our common worship can be a great comfort and inspiration in and throughout our lives. As part of the formation of our youth, we have organized Sunday mornings so they can regularly attend worship services and participate in the service as well. Liturgy works on the soul in a way that brings lightness and peace, particularly in times of difficulty and darkness. Regular participation creates habits of the heart that can have an impact on our youth for their entire lives. We believe this is important and hope they participate in both the Everybody Hour and worship.
We fully recognize our youth cannot participate in all of these offerings. We understand that. Our goal is to make available rich options that bring to their mind’s eye a new perspective on the church and living the Christian life. We believe that best happens through a combination of education, storytelling and modeling, community building, and worship. It is our prayer that our youth come to see, through their experience of Epiphany, how their Christian faith and life can bring to them a deeper sense of God’s grace and what it means to live the good life.
If you have any questions or would like to volunteer, please contact Laura Sargent, Youth Ministry Convener, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every three years members of our youth group go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Read about the 2015 Pilgrimage at Epiphany Youth Pilgrimage blog.