This month's blog comes to you from Tommy Chase, Katie Arp, and Rebecca Davis who were all in attendance at the last time EYE took place. They share their perspectives on what the experience was like and why you should apply to participate in the upcoming Episcopal Youth Event this summer!
The Episcopal Youth Event is buzzing with energy. I had never experienced such an exciting worship service or such a large group of young Episcopalians before in my life. Bringing together some of the best musicians, speakers and worship practices made me understand and appreciate the Episcopal tradition in a whole new way. The worship services at EYE were dynamic, engaging and most importantly made for young people. The chance to explore a new city with my friends, meet other Episcopal youth from around the nation and gain a greater understanding of the church was an opportunity that I am glad I did not miss.
EYE is an incredible experience. It serves as an opportunity to meet fellow youth from across the country. It is a time to learn about different cultures, perspectives, and ideas. EYE helps youth figure out where they sit in a local, national, and international context. Locally, youth get to spend time with members from their diocese. Nationally, youth get to meet members from other dioceses to exchange ideas that they can bring back home. Internationally, youth get to learn about different religions and the broader role of Christianity. For example, a theme of discussion for the last EYE was the Israel-Palestine conflict. This often is a loaded conversation, but EYE provided the parameters for a safe and meaningful discourse.
Personally, EYE helped me put my faith in a much broader context. I understood that there were other episcopal youth outside of our home diocese but seeing the thousands of young people who share a similar faith is remarkable. There are also some practical elements to EYE that I found to be beneficial. First, EYE serves as a college tour. Youth live in dorms for the week, utilize the campus dining halls, and get to explore the campus. Youth also get to explore the host city. Like college, youth also get to meet a variety of people that can ultimately shape their outlook on life. So, if you are contemplating going to EYE, know that it is an awesome experience no matter where you are on your faith journey.
In the summers of 2014 and 2017, I was blessed to be invited to attend the Episcopal Youth Event in Philadelphia and Oklahoma City, respectively. EYE is an incredible event that brings together youth and young adults from all over the world to worship, learn, and fellowship with one another. The group from Southwest Florida was not only able to bond as a group and find ideas to grow our youth presence in our own diocese, but also made lifelong connections with Episcopal youth all over. There were many worship services that we got to take place in, and it was especially nice how all of the sermons took the group into account. I actually went back and rewatched many of them online after the event, and in other settings. There were also plenary sessions where we could choose specific topics to spend time learning about and discussing. We came out of those sessions with so many ideas! It is difficult to pick just one or two things that were my favorite, but one thing that really stands out to me as somewhat unique to what you might expect from this type of event was the days we spent immersing ourselves in the local history and culture. We were able to visit Episcopal churches that were utilized at the time of the formation of our country as well as famous Philadelphia things like the Rocky statue. In Oklahoma City, we toured historic buildings and learned about the rich Native American history, and we ended our day with a visit to the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial and held a prayer vigil. EYE is a trip of a lifetime, and takes us out of our world and opens our eyes to what else is out there!
Want to experience EYE for yourself? Youth ages 15 to 19 are encouraged to apply to be part of our delegation! Click the EYE23 tab up top to apply! It's an experience you aren't going to want to miss.