Better Together

by Charlotte Long, Youth Ministries

One of the coolest things I've gotten to participate in this year is about to host its first event! Every two or so months, I attend a meeting with Youth Ministers from St. Gregory's in Deerfield, St. Augustine's in Wilmette, Christ Church in Winnetka, St. David's in Glenview, St. Matthew's in Evanston, St. Mark's in Evanston, Church of the Holy Spirit in Lake Forest, and Chad' Senuta, head of Youth Ministry for the Chicago Diocese. We like to joke that Chad is like a Youth Minister for us Youth Ministers. He guides, prods, questions and affirms our actions. We've read and discussed books together, prayed together, asked each other for guidance and shared resources and strategies for creating the most dynamic and Spirit-driven ministries we possibly can! We call ourselves "Better Together;" and it is just about the best thing since sliced bread and I'm incredibly thankful for it.

For a long time, we have been hoping to create an event that involves all of our teens in one place (or many places, as it turns out!). We didn't want it to be huge yet, since many of us work part-time and are just introducing our Youth Groups to their larger Episcopal families. But we all placed an importance in bringing a large amount of spiritually-questioning teens together for this reason...

When I was in High School, I thought I was pretty well spiritually-versed. I knew my questions were solid and thoughtful, I felt connected to God, I loved my church friends and our summer mission trip. But I resisted the weekend-long retreats hosted by the Diocese, called "Happenings." Let me tell you right now, I can see from this distance that my fear was totally and completely based on PRIDE. I think I was maybe nervous because I knew if I went I wouldn't be topdog right away: these kids all knew each other and maybe had secret handshakes already and knew songs I didn't know! I was also judgmental of what I shamefully called "happy-clappy" sessions. I did not hear my Youth Minster properly (dear Kevin Caruso, now a pastor of his own suburban parish) when he said, "It's like a family reunion. Everyone there already loves you no matter what. That's the point of these events."

And then I went. And he was right! Seeing teens my age who said out loud that they were excited to find out more about God, that they were excited about learning how to pray and that they knew where to turn when they were lost - this was radical to me! God was cool! People who loved God were also cool! WOAH.
So. Here we are trying to introduce our teens to that phenomenon and feeling of Love In Fellowship. Our first event is our North Shore Youth Ministry group's namesake:

"Better Together: A Progressive Dinner"

When: April 19th, 2015, from 4:30 to 7:30 pm

Who: 9th - 12th graders and chaperones

Where: Each Youth Group starts at their home church and will travel together to each stop on the dinner; St. Augustine's for snacks and games, Christ Church for Dinner and service project in conjunction with A Just Harvest, and finally... Holy Comforter, for a final worship service and dessert!

If you're interested in helping carpool, contact me at cbllong@holycomforter.org.