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by the Rev. Anna Sutterisch
The purpose of the Happening retreat is for high schoolers from across the diocese to gather in a safe space to explore their spirituality, questions, doubts, faith, and relationship with God. This year’s retreat certainly delivered. 17 participants from eight parishes gathered at the welcoming St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Elyria on a long weekend in March.
From Friday night to Sunday afternoon, the participants heard reflections from their peers on various topics including faith, prayer, identity, and the sacraments. After each reflection, small groups continued reflecting on the topics through activities and discussion. The retreat also included a long walk in downtown Elyria, praying compline, walking a labyrinth, and experiencing the rite of reconciliation. (Many thanks to the Rev. Andy McQuery for hearing confessions.) On Sunday, the Rev. June Hardy Dorsey graciously allowed the Happeners to lead all parts of the Sunday service at St. Andrew’s – including preaching and musical offerings.
Another highlight was writing anonymous “anything you’ve wanted to ask about church” questions and randomly choosing from them for (youth-led, grown-up infused) discussion. Examples included: is God a white man? is life planned or random? (and the eternal) why do bad things happen to good people? A key takeaway from all these reflections, activities, and questions was that “I don’t know” is a great answer, and we are still called and given responsibility to discern what we think, as individuals and a community of Christ-followers.
By the end of the retreat, youth, staff, and chaperones were equally exhausted and inspired. Please pray for our teenagers as they continue to navigate a difficult world, search for answers in a confusing life, and find hope in the community of the risen Christ.
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