“One more cheer, for the reason we are here, Jesus Christ!” said a young man from the Diocese of Nebraska, prompting an enthusiastic response from across the arena. He had just completed a few announcements at the end of a plenary at the Episcopal Youth Event, held July 9-13 at Villanova University in suburban Philadelphia.
The triennial conference was organized by the mission office of the Episcopal Church. At EYE14, youth and adult sponsors from 81 dioceses, more than 1,300 participants, studied the Anglican Communion’s five Marks of Mission. Worship was rooted in the prayer book and The Hymnal 1982, with music led by “Live Hymnal,” a worship band from the Diocese of Florida. The group injected fresh beats to familiar tunes and traditional words. The young people worshiped with reverence and enthusiasm, often starting spontaneous conga lines and dancing in the aisles.
The weekend included a bus tour of Philadelphia parishes, where the youth learned from local clergy. A variety of bus routes took groups to differing places, but everyone had a chance to visit the Church of the Advocate and Christ Church, both particularly significant to the history of the church and the nation.
Among many memorable sermons was one from the Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers of the Diocese of Long Island, who encouraged the youth to have the attitude of the boy who brought Jesus his loves and fishes. There was not a dry eye in the room during a presentation by the Rev. Becca Stephens when she talked about Magdalene Community and Thistle Farms, based in Nashville, which helps transform the lives of women who have lived on the streets as addicts or sex workers.
The closing sermon by the Rt. Rev. Michael Curry of North Carolina had people standing and clapping throughout. He challenged everyone to “Go!” and live the great commission for the love of Jesus. He related the story of Brooklyn Dodgers owner Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson, the first African American player in Major League Baseball. Robinson was welcomed by Rickey “not because he was a social do-gooder, or social campaigner,” Curry said, “but because he loved Jesus!” This point was received with a standing ovation.
Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schiori ended the event with a renewal of the Baptismal Covenant and a commissioning of the participants for the mission to which they have been marked.
Diocese of Northern Indiana