Summer of Episcopal Love: Youth Lead the Way

Summer of Episcopal Love: Youth Lead the Way

By Lori Korleski Richardson, Interim Communications Director

For some, it was a full summer of participation in several youth events offered by our diocese, other dioceses and the larger Episcopal Church. For some, it was summer camp, either at Camp Living Waters in Humboldt County (see story here), St. Dorothy's Rest, Bishop's Ranch or Camp Galilee on Lake Tahoe. The diocese provided 37 camperships to help kids deepen their formation as Christians.

But the youth have much to say about the blending of faith and fun, and learning how to lead others to make a difference in this fast-changing world.

"Attending Pathways for the past two years has opened my eyes a lot more to what is going on daily in our local, national, and global community," said Giovanna Zampa, a parishioner at St. Paul's, Benicia. "I learned so much that I wouldn't ever see in my history books." 

"At the end of the week both years, we did something called a Media Museum. This included fold out presentation boards with different subjects, such as gender inequality, environmental injustice, LQBTQ+ issues, and refugee rights. On these boards there were articles, photos, and infographics. In addition, we watched videos and mini-documentary things throughout the activity with interviews and personal experiences. We were encouraged to leave post it notes on the boards where we wrote our ideas and thoughts. When reading about such heavy subjects, it was comforting to write about my feelings about certain matters, without starting arguments, and knowing I was in a safe space to do so," she said.

In 2015, Kevin Briggs wasn't sure he was even had a place at the Episcopal table, or wanted one.

But then he went to Lift Every Voice, a three-year program developed by the Diocese of North Carolina to revisit the historical truths of slavery and the Civil Rights movement in North Carolina and apartheid in South Africa, and went on their Freedom Ride, ( visiting places in that state where horrendous episodes of racial injustice and violence took place. The experience was so moving that the Northern California participants came back and developed Pathways for our diocese, to expose and deal with injustices that have happened here.

“When I first got involved with it, I was exploring my faith, wondering if (the Episcopal way) was right for me. I didn’t really feel I was part of the community, and I was hesitant about going. In the grand scheme of things, I wasn’t sure how my faith was going to affect my life. But then I went and I had an amazing time. I met great people from participants to clergy members, and we are still friends today.”

After being a LEV participant for the prior two years, Kevin this year had the privilege of working on staff. “It was challenging and it asked a lot more of us. We had to fly out a couple of days earlier, put on two fundraisers, and basically worked on program and scheduling, offering feedback and it was like editing a rough draft. And through that you are growing closer with the other teammates. … Overall, it was the most influential moments of the summer for me.”

But the other events he attended this summer, Pathways and the Episcopal Youth Event, were very special as well. Kevin, who recently started classes at Occidental College in Los Angeles, said he enjoyed EYE, which only happens every three years, because he was able to connect with youth from all over the country; he said he tried to meet someone from every state. With nearly 1,400 participants, there were many connections, and he got to know some people from his own diocese better as well.

And Pathways, he said, “I love Pathways so much … the youth are driving the program. With the participants, it engages them more when it’s their peers, and it’s almost a training for the leaders as well.”

Besides the youth, parents get a boost to their own faith watching what the programs do for their kids.

Said Giovanna’s mom, Betsy Zampa: “I am so grateful that the Diocese of Northern California made Pathways available to the youth. As my daughter approached her teenage years I thought and prayed about what types of ministries I'd like to see her involved in. Service projects abound, but I was looking for an experience where she could have a deeper, more meaningful and educational experience.

“I think we found that in Pathways,” Zampa said. “(Giovanna) learned much about social and environmental injustice and ways to be a minister of reconciliation. They not only talked about the injustices, but went to the actual places these injustices occurred. They also had multiple opportunities to practice their nonviolent communication skills. I felt it was very useful to take the time and energy to practice, because often this type of communication doesn't come naturally.”

“Many thanks to Bishop Beisner and Rev. Anne (Clarke) for the time, energy and funds to continue this important pilgrimage,” Zampa said.

1 comment (Add your own)

1. Ingrid McCord wrote:
When my children were this age there was nothing like this available. They expressed a desire for such activities when they were this age. Now they are adults with children and not involved in the church at all. It breaks my heart.
Thank you for getting this started.

Mon, October 16, 2017 @ 12:38 PM

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