Episcopal Youth Event draws Grace teens to Oklahoma City

Michigan youth at EYE17
Michigan youth at EYE17

By Brittney Collins

Stepping off the plane into Oklahoma City, I wasn’t quite sure how a week of Episcopal Youth Even (EYE17)t would affect me. I definitely expected to have some fun, though I never imagined that there would be times where I couldn’t breathe because I was laughing so hard. I expected to feel a few strong emotions, yet I did not know that I would have to comfort friends with tears in their eyes, and that they might have to comfort me as well. I expected to feel touched, but I did not know that I would be so moved at times that my heart would actually feel full.

Maggie Miron, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Brittney Collins (L. to R.)
Maggie Miron, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Brittney Collins (L. to R.) at EYE17

One of my favorite memories from EYE was after three amazing speeches from young adults involved in an organization called Kids4Peace. These teenagers–one an Israeli Jew, another a Palestinian Christian, and the last an Iraqi refugee–each told their own amazing story about settling conflicts and overcoming stereotypes. After a roaring standing ovation, over one thousand youth and adults held hands and passionately, yet tranquilly, sang “Peace, Salaam, Shalom,” a calling for peace that incorporates three different languages. In this moment that song reassured me that we, as Episcopalians, wish unity and love on every person no matter what faith or race. It was an instant where my heart truly felt at peace, and all the conflict and differences in the world seemed to melt away.

Coming back to the “real world” (as we call it at camp), my heart does not always feel like this; in fact, it can be a little bit of a shock to leave a safe space such as EYE. However, God calls for his people to go into the world to spread his faith and love. And while it may be difficult at times, it is our job as loyal followers of the Lord to take what we learned from the Episcopal Youth Event and present it to the world.

By Maggie Miron

At Episcopal Youth Event 2017, it was easy to be overwhelmed – by the heat, the number of people, the sound of 1,200 teenagers all in one room. But the most overwhelming thing for me was the faith that filled the room, for God, for each other, and for ourselves.

In Presiding Bishop Curry’s opening sermon, he reminded us of what Jesus said were the most important things in faith: “Love your Lord our God, and love your neighbor as yourself.” He repeatedly told us “Love God, love your neighbor, and love yourself.” I had heard this before, many a time, but it took this past week for me to truly understand what it meant.

I have seen faith in God. I have been surrounded by it my entire life, having been raised in the Church. I know how it looks, and what it can do, and how vast and powerful it is. This past week I was (there is no other word for it) overwhelmed to realize that faith in God is not just faith in God. It is faith in the God in each and every person you see, including the one in the mirror. As deep as your faith in the Almighty runs, it must also include your neighbor, your enemy, and yourself. This is no easy thing to do, but watching my Presiding Bishop practically shout it to me, and hearing well over a thousand people shout and clap and dance their agreement, it seemed the most natural thing in the world. God is in everything, and our faith must extend over every part of Him.