As promised in my last article, I want to share with you what goes on at the EYC meetings on Sundays at noon. The group, open to youth from age 12 through high school, is led and mentored by the EYC Youth Ministers: Maggie Mahloy, Nick Clark and Raven Cadena, and me, the Associate Rector for Children and Youth.
We start out with lunch, which is often provided by the great parents of the youth of EYC. After a prayer of thanksgiving for the food, we all sit and partake of the meal and participate in check-in, when each young person shares with the group any challenges or joys they have experienced in the previous week and what they are anticipating for the coming week. The youth also learn about youth events coming up at St. Andrew’s and in the Diocese of Southern Virginia, such as Happening at Chanco, for example.
After lunch, we have the formation part of the afternoon, where a lesson is presented by any of the EYC Youth Ministers or by me. Lessons are mostly based on the liturgical calendar, and on subjects and issues the youth themselves want to talk about, like stress and bullying. At other times EYC does Bible study together and prayer in the church. Throughout the year, EYC does special events: the Christmas Party, preparing the plastic eggs for the Easter Egg Hunt or making cookies and placemats for the Kairos Prison Ministry.
During our two hours together, we have fun games interlaced throughout, and most of these games are very active and very entertaining. When the weather is good, we go outside to play soccer or another ball game.
At our EYC meetings, we keep things moving and flexible, letting them know that God loves and cares for them. There is often a lot of laughter, and each time we meet it is clear to me that the youth care about each other and enjoy being together. At the end of each meeting, the youth and Youth Ministers “circle-up” and I bless each of them with the sign of the cross on his or her forehead, asking God to protect them, and reminding them of God’s love and presence.
As you can see, each EYC meeting is full, and as I wrote in my last article, we only have a limited time together, and formation and fellowship must happen for the youth to support them in their lives as Christians and help them meet the challenges of being a young person in the world. There is not a lot of time to dedicate to other projects. Please know that when I say “No” to your suggestion of a project for our youth to take on, it is because I am carefully guarding the precious hours they have here for formation and spiritual growth.
I am very grateful for the parish’s support of our young people, and to me, the presence of children and youth are active signs of the presence of God.
The Rev. Lorna H. WilliamsAssociate for Children and Youth