How Do We Address Peacemaking in Youth Programming?

Last week, I had the privilege of participating in Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace: An Episcopal Gathering to Challenge the Epidemic of Violence.

The event was organized to help Episcopalians renew their commitment to the Gospel call to make peace in a world of violence.

The gathering of 220 people, including 34 bishops, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, was centered around four pillars as key avenues to address the culture of violence within and outside the church: advocacy, education, liturgy and pastoral care. (ENS, Episcopalians gather to ‘challenge mythology of violence’)

Justin WelbyThrough Twitter, @EpiscoYouth, I chronicled quotes from the event. Some of my favorites:

  • A church committed to peace joins their enemy on their knees.
  • Being with the poor and suffering changes us.  
  • The horror of the 20th century is that the better we get at violence the more we use it. 
  • We are not willing to accept violence as a normal part of our society. – +Ed Konieczny, Bishop of Oklahoma

Jesus WeptParticularly moving was our visit to the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum, where we were privileged to hear Melissa Houston, a survivor of the Oklahoma City bombing, tell her story of trauma, faith, and recovery. This moving tribute was followed by a reception, Eucharist with a closing sermon preached by the Presiding Bishop, and closing thoughts from conference speakers.

Throughout the event, I couldn’t help but reflect on the ways in which we who work with youth approach this important subject, both in the youth room and in our wider faith communities. Events like this could and probably should incorporate young people.

Of course, elements of peacemaking and nonviolence will be woven throughout the upcoming Episcopal Youth Event (EYE14).

But, I wonder, how do you address violence and peacemaking in your youth programming?

In what ways can the wider Episcopal community incorporate youth into this conversation?

Share your ideas in the comments.

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