To Donate go to: tinyurl.com/CCC-SayYestoKids
The last few years here at the Cathedral, here in BC, and in the world, have been rather turbulent. The pandemic and many other factors have meant many of the things that bring us together as a community have been challenged and put on hold. As we start trying to come back together, we can’t help but look to the future. We have heard the forecast from the National Church, that the Anglican church is dying and by 2040 there will be “no members, attenders or givers”. Now, do I personally believe that will happen? No. But it is a wake-up call and a call to action. For me, my ministry with children, youth, and families is an affirmation that this is the area where we need to invest our time, love, care, and assets to ensure this prediction does not come true.
I come to you wearing two hats, both representing the Cathedral and also the Diocese as Chair of the diocesan youth movement. At our most recent events we’ve started seeing a new generation of youth: Youth who have never attended retreats run by the Anglican church, and youth who have little knowledge of our ways of being, simply because over the last 2 and ½ years we were not able to connect with an entire generation of high school age youth.. he church will feel the effects of these missed years in the future. Youth do not always meet God in our church services. Youth often meet God, in earth and wind and water. They often meet God in music, the arts, in moments of inspiration, in places of safety and respect - wherever that might be, they meet God in conversations with people like you.
The Dean, the trustees and I want this Cathedral to be one of those safe spaces. We want youth to be able to call this Cathedral home and have conversations with people like you, who show God’s love through your care and acceptance. Because you cannot meet God while you fearful, ashamed, or rejected. We want all youth to have a chance to walk through our doors and find acceptance.We want to open our doors to youth from across the region, from across this city, through PlayRight, a dramatic arts program. Why Dramatic arts, and why at the Cathedral? because youth in this region need a place to feel safe, self-actualize, and to grow and we have made Open Doors, Open Hearts, and Open Minds our guiding principle. Why the arts? I am sure those of us, like myself who found comfort and safety in the arts can tell you that these elements and experiences of creativity to quote Mary Oliver, “save me, and daily”. But also because I have seen this model work in countless places.
Some of you already know my background, and as we get to know each other you may learn more about the experience I bring to this table and community. Briefly, I want to share a story that illustrates the power of The Arts in creating a safe space for youth. n 2011, I was helping manage a youth music project in the UK. This project was incredible and one of the many places I feel blessed to have worked at. Part of my role was to manage a leadership program and committee for the older youth who wanted to help and guide the younger youth through their projects and life skills and help manage events. This by the way is true youth participation. You know a project is successful when there is a committee of youth passionate about the project and working together to move it forward. This project began as just a space rented by the county council, where local youth would come and have a space to practice music. Over time, small bands began to form and we started holding A battle of the bands every 2 months. We also did art and life skills like cooking as well. This grew to the point where we were hosting a day-long festival for the town each year, and youth were getting record deals. One youth, Georgia, was one of the original participants who had started the project. At first, she was pretty shy and didn’t play with any of the bands, she just enjoyed the cooking and art. I began to learn that she was from a very conservative home and it was only through this program that she could begin to be herself. Georgia didn't fit in at school, and home didn't feel safe to her, this was the only place she could be whoever she felt Georgia was.
Through this program, she met her partner, Ellie, and the two of them not only began their romantic relationship but they also started a band and started performing and writing together. They both joined my youth council and Georgia started mentoring other youth who were struggling with similar issues. Georgia graduated high school got into university and moved in with Ellie. This program changed her life. And she still keeps in touch with me now and again. I know there are many ways to change the world and do justice and walk humbly as is our call. And there are organizations that can give you lots of numbers: how many beds are filled or meals served. Youth work is a little different, and though the changes are harder to monitor, they have longer-lasting effects - like giving Georgia a space in which to belong, which led her to discover her own passions, which led to meeting a like-minded people to share that with, and with finding the ability to be well within herself, which led to Georgia being able to find the path to a bright future marked by love and support
There are young people like Georgia right here in this city. Through PlayRight, we want to offer youth here the same opportunities Georgia found. Of course, we need your support.
The wonderful this about supporting this program now, through the Anglican Foundation campaign is that your support is magnified. When you make a donation, your gift goes towards this Cathedral program as well as the diocese, and also indigenous youth ministries across Canada. So, one gift becomes three.
With your help, we can create an arts program here at the cathedral that will not be faith-promoting, but it will be promoting the all-inclusive love of Christ the Cathedral is known for: breaking down barriers between what the public thinks the Church is and what this Cathedral actually is, it will create a home, and a safe place for youth to learn, self actualize, challenge themselves and grow, giving them skills into adolescence and beyond. This program will certainly feed into other areas of our cathedral life here and over time Playright youth drama project could become a cornerstone of our outreach to youth and young adults in this city.
We are halfway to our goal of $15,000 and we have just over a week or so left in our campaign. I know it may be a long road with some bumps along the way, but I also know that if we want to re-ignite youth ministry in our community, if we want to repair the damage to the perception of the church and to be remembered as a safe place where youth can grow up and come back to when they need us, a place to celebrate love and family, or when times are hard, then I know the work will be worth it.
To donate go to: tinyurl.com/CCC-SayYestoKids