This summer, the Jurisdiction of Armed Forces and Chaplaincy hosted a retreat for middle and high school students during their annual convocation. Students spent time with the rest of the jurisdiction during morning prayer, worship, and meals in addition to having dedicated time on their own. Throughout the retreat, students’ time together was focused on learning about and practicing prayer. Discussion often included challenging questions and a sense that many of these young people wanted to make faith their own.
This was the first time the JAFC hosted a program specifically for students, and their commitment to the emerging generation was evident in the way they welcomed students and worked to support parents. There was dedicated family time which allowed children, students, and parents to connect and process the events of the convocation and retreat.
For students, this time together was an important reminder that they are not alone in many of the challenges they face. At lunch on their first day together, one student said, “raise your hand if your dad is in the military” to which all the students raised their hands. Then he said, “raise your hand if your dad is a chaplain” with the same response. In seeing the humor here, this student continued to ask such questions as friends around the table started to groan and raise their hands. Even with something as small as this, it was a clear picture of the community that these students found in simply being together.
One student shared, “Thank you so much for having this retreat. It’s really helped me grow in my relationship with God.”
Spaces away from regular routines and rhythms allow us to pay closer attention to the relationship God is inviting us into. The hope is that this focused time away will empower students to continue growing in their faith as they go back to their daily life. This retreat gave these young people a chance to form new friendships with other Christians their age and gave them practical ways to deepen their relationship with God.
How might you create space for students to grow in their friendship with Jesus? How could the Champion Grant support your ministry ideas?
Coordinator for Student Leadership Network
Anna Burden grew up in the church and has felt called to student ministry since she was in seventh grade. She studied Youth Ministry at Eastern University and has experience working with churches and student ministries of various sizes. Anna and her husband, Colin, now live in Quincy, MA with their two cats. She works for the Anglican Diocese in New England as their Family Ministry Assistant. Anna is passionate about helping young people discover their identity
in Christ, their belonging in the family of God, and their gifts for Kingdom purposes.