08 December 2010

Youth Worker Summit - Gratitude

Ahhhhh . . . .

That's me, releasing a deep sigh of gratitude in the wake of the Youth Worker Summit that took place last week. The Ecumenical Youth Ministries Staff Team of the National Council of Christian Churches sponsored our second summit that strives to create "sacred space for youth workers." This year's theme was "Gathering in Hope, Rekindling the Light." We welcomed one of The Episcopal Church's own celebrities, Phyllis Tickle, as one of our keynote speakers, as well as Presbyterian Rodger Nishioka. Between the two of them, those of us gathered were treated to affirmation, gratitude, tools, discernment, enlightenment, encouragement and fellowship with colleagues, friends, and family. We networked and played, studied and prayed in the midst of the "Magical Kingdom," otherwise known as Walt Disney World. The time was truly a gift in so many ways.

The greatest gift for me was sharing this ecumenical time with 28 other Episcopalians engaged in youth ministry. Our denomination was represented by congregational and diocesan youth missioners, paid and volunteer youth ministers, rural and urban people, big budget and no budget youth programs. Our Episcopalians were from California, Dominican Republic, New York, Oregon, and everywhere in between.

The two nuggets of wisdom that I found the most helpful, hopeful, and affirming came from Rodger during his keynotes and homily. His words around hope and hopefulness, our need to not only be hopeful about the future, but to also be living in hope in the moment, provoked some good discernment about my own conduct and approach to ministry. I tweeted some of his remarks at www.twitter.com/episcoyouth if you want to catch them. My paraphrase of a another affirmation that Rodger provided is below. It helps me remember the healthy balance that was offered to me when I was hired as a youth minister in1992. I pray that it is a helpful reflection for you.

Your first priority is tending your relationship with Jesus.
Your second priority is tending your family relationships, whatever family may be for you.
Your third priority is tending the ministry to which you have been called.
Episcopalians at the Youth Worker Summit December 2010

Photos above are the ELCA Global Missions Quilt in its entirety and smaller close-ups. It was used as our backdrop for worship and plenary sessions.

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