After prayerful consideration we have decided to make a significant change to our diocesan youth ministry programming. We are ceasing to offer New Beginnings and Happening retreats as we work toward creating new programs that we hope will better meet the needs of our congregations and youth. No doubt many will wonder what has led to this change.
Both Happening and New Beginnings have been showing signs of decline, which have become more dramatic in recent years. In the fall of 2015, New Beginnings #32 was canceled due to low participation, and in March Happening #100 was canceled for the same reason. Both events are structured in such a way that they are simply not viable when staff and/or participant registration numbers are below a certain minimum. We have also been noticing that it is increasingly difficult for both staff and participants to commit to an entire weekend retreat whether they are youth or adults. It seems that what these programs require for participation may not be realistic expectations for our current culture.
We understand that this is sad news. Both of these programs have a long history and have touched many lives. We give thanks for all of the leaders who have sustained these ministries with their faith and service over the years. And we have tried to make this decision carefully, seeking the input of leaders from our diocese, our province, and The Episcopal Church.
Rest assured that we remain committed to our mission to connect the youth of our diocese with the wider church and to serve their formation in Christ. Programs like Camp Chicago, Miqra, Cathedral Youth Day, and Youth Presence at Diocesan Convention are vibrant and strong. We are already dreaming of new initiatives that will continue drawing us together in Christ both as a diocese and in our local regions.
We would like to invite interested youth and adult leaders to help with this process. We plan to host some visioning sessions this summer and more details will be coming soon for how to get involved. Feel free to contact us with questions, and we appreciate your prayerful support.
Grace and peace,
Associate for Youth and Campus Ministry
Assistant for Youth Ministry