This past June, a team traveled to the Dallas, TX area for the ACNA Provincial Assembly. The Rev. Craig Vickerman of All Saints Church in Attleboro led the Youth Assembly. The following is an account of his own experience at Assembly this year:
A team of 24 youth and adults from the ADNE joined over 100 other teens and adults at the Provincial Youth Gathering in Dallas in June to coincide with Provincial Assembly. This years Assembly was special for a number of reasons. It was the ten-year anniversary of the ACNA. It was the first Assembly for our own Bishop Andrew Williams, we celebrated the re-election of Archbishop Beach as the ACNA’s archbishop, and we all received a signed copy of the new Book of Common Prayer.
As the ACNA enters into its second decade, it will be journeying through its adolescent years, a key moment in the development of ones identity and purpose. For our youth, the youth gathering was a powerful moment to reinforce their identity as Christians in the Anglican tradition and their call to discipleship. The power of this gathering came in the normalizing of the communal experience of the Gospel. Jada Njoronge of Grace and Faith Anglican Church in Bridgewater, MA, said, “The best part for me was how God brought all the churches together to praise him from all over.”
All too often mission trips, youth retreats, and other Christian events are framed as a break from the “real world,” as if spending intentional time in the presence of God worshipping him through song, the study of scripture, serving others, and intentional Christian fellowship cannot be normal everyday living. That is why going to Dallas was so important for us; it normalized the Christian experience, which is exactly what youth from New England need. Not only did they learn about the crazy, reckless love of God, but they were also struck by how much God really, really likes us and wants to be with us.
In Dallas we explored the rhythms of the daily office, we encountered the redeeming work of the Holy Spirit through prayer, we laughed and played together, and we served alongside some amazing ministries. Ultimately, we did experience real life with God, and our youth came back changed in many unique ways. “Texas was life changing and helped me to know who I am in God,” said Abby Thiongo of Grace and Faith, “It helped me want to help people through missions.”
I want to give a big thanks to all the churches and families in our diocese who helped support this trip through prayer and financial assistance. The next ADNE youth activity is a Diocesan youth retreat for all middle and high school students, which will run from October 25-27th at Toah Nipi Retreat Center in Rindge, NH. Bishop Andrew will be speaking to our youth about the “Father Heart of God.”