by Sarah Kleinwechter
When I went to Episcopal Youth Event (EYE) in the summer of 2011, I had no idea what I was expecting. I knew that it was a giant youth conference of The Episcopal Church, as the title suggested, but beyond that I walked in there with no real clue as to what was going to unfold over the weekend. What happened was better than I could have hoped.
I won’t say that this weekend transformed my whole view of God and religion, because that’s not what it was for me. For me, this conference helped me to form my identity as an Episcopalian and grow in my faith. Growing up as an Episcopalian, you get used to being in the minority. Chances are most of your friends in school are not Episcopalian; when you tell them that you are Episcopalian, they respond by saying “Episco-what?” You just smile and then explain it as “Catholic lite,” because that’s the shortest answer that most people can wrap their minds around. But at EYE it was like a whole new world. For the first time in my life, I was completely surrounded by young Episcopalians. I was surrounded by people of the same basic set of beliefs as me. I didn’t even realize there were so many Episcopalians out there; being in the minority for so long you can forget that, collectively, we are still a large group of people. For me, that aspect of the weekend was one of the neatest things about the experience.
At the conference itself, there are a ton of choices of workshops that you can attend, offering discussions for ways that The Episcopal Church can grow as well as classes to help you grow in your spiritual life. Getting to spend a few days with people like you, talking about the religious life that you find most familiar is incredibly refreshing.
EYE was a wonderful experience for me to figure out my place in the church as a whole, as well as for me to learn more about my religion and what I believe. I would definitely recommend for others to go to EYE and enjoy that experience! I appreciated the support that St. Martin-in-the-Fields gave me so that I could go, and I appreciated the prayers of my church family that sustained me in travel and through the event.
by Sarah Kleinwechter