New group gives youths chance to explore their souls | Worship

By The Rev. Cynthia Espeseth, St. Hilda St. Patrick Episcopal Church | Apr 16, 2014

At St. Hilda St. Patrick, we are stepping outside our routine and taking a risk for God.

Maybe it’s not such a big risk for larger churches, but for us, a neighborhood church with about 75 people each Sunday, it is a big step.

Starting Sunday, April 27, we are launching The Gathering at St. Hilda St. Patrick Episcopal Church, a group for kids in grades 6-12.

The Gathering will meet every Sunday night 5:30-7 p.m., and is open to youths of all faith, no faith, and those just seeking someplace safe to hang out. And we will feed any and all kids who show up.

We don’t know if the kids will come. We don’t know if what we are doing makes sense. But we believe that God is pushing us to make this happen.

So what’s the big deal about another youth group?

Our kids have so many options now – soccer, lacrosse, football, baseball, crew, jazz band, orchestra, not to mention all that homework and holding down a job. Why are we launching something else for them to do?

We asked ourselves that same question, knowing our own youths are fully subscribed in all those things that seem to be needed for a successful track to college.

The problem is (speaking as a parent myself) none of those things offer a child a place to explore their soul or their spirit. So when Michael Harrington, an experienced youth leader, came to us with this idea for a youth ministry partnership, we were intrigued.

Michael has for 40 years been a youth minister, Christian educator, campus minister and camp director. Michael has also been involved in Students Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE), and did extensive mission work with youths rebuilding New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

He is particularly passionate about the kids who are left on the sidelines; kids that seem to get lost in all the business and stuff thrown at them, just trying to get through middle school and high school.

Michael has enthusiasm, joy and a huge passion for offering youths a safe place to just be and explore, and give voice to the spirituality of their life.

It is that last bit that intrigued us at St. Hilda St. Patrick. We believe that youths need a place to be themselves, gather in a safe environment and to have the leadership for exploring this thing we call faith.

We have long wanted to offer kids a place to find their voice and delve into what they think or know or feel about God and God’s grace, mercy, forgiveness and love.

And so we are offering the youths in the area a place to come, eat, share their questions, concerns, fears, and to critically think about and give voice and action to what they are discovering about their place in God’s world.

We feel compelled and called by God to support youths and their lives, where ever they may be.

Come check out The Gathering at St. Hilda St. Patrick beginning April 27 from 5:30-7 p.m. If you are intrigued about The Gathering, please contact Michael at the church, at 425-743-4655 (leave a message!) or at

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