Over 60 junior high youth (grades 6th-8th) and volunteers participated in the annual New Beginnings Retreat Feb. 19th-20th! Diocesan youth from around the state gathered for the first time since 2020 for New Beginnings 46! They played games, sang camp songs, laughed, and developed deeper relationships of faith with God, self, and one another.
What is New Beginnings? This unique and immersive junior high retreat has been a staple in our Diocese since 1991. Youth gather each year to listen, grow and learn about each other, life, and God. For many kids, this is a formative experience in their life that helps them grow closer to God. Youth in grades 6th - 8th can attend New Beginnings as many times as they want. Once youth reach 9th grade they have an opportunity to give back by being on staff the following year; this not only creates a community of love but a deeply sacramental experience for everyone!
Throughout the retreat, youth break into small groups, led by volunteers called "Moms and Dads" and youth staff. In small groups, they get to one another by listening to each other's stories and by having fun together. Youth listen to "talks" over the weekend that focus on friendships, peer pressure, family relationship, the church and me, forgiveness/reconciliation, and taking their NB experience into the world. Youth also play games, worship together, and experience St. Crispin's!
Kate Carney Bond, Diocesan Director of Faith Formation and Discipleship, gave a talk about being a parent and relayed how "parents don't always know everything" and we are often "building the house at the same time as we figure out the blueprints," but what was stable through everything was her love for her daughter and step-son. Many of the talks shared about how they were formed at St. Crispin's and by New Beginnings. Chaplain Fr. Tim Sean Youmans shared about growing up in Wyoming and his experiences of God showing him a path forward when he needed a change in his life. Rector Austin Mears, of Trinity, Tulsa and Dean Zella Heater of St. Paul's Cathedral in Oklahoma City led the staff throughout the weekend. Staff represented eight different congregations and participants came from fourteen different congregations across the Diocese of Oklahoma. If you have a junior high youth in grades 6-8 or a high school youth who might want to staff - put February 18th-19th, 2023 on your calendars!
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