Written by Todd Bryant
I went to EYE 2023 (Episcopal Youth Event) as an adult leader. It took place on the campus of the University of Maryland in beautiful swamp-sweat Baltimore over three days in July. There were about 1100 people of which roughly 1000 were youth. EYE is the second largest event that the Episcopal Church sponsors next to General Convention. I’m not going to describe each component of the event because social media pages do an excellent job of that.
If you just went over to Facebook to look at the experience, you saw that it was high energy, full of joy, and full of life. One of the participants told me that it was the first time they thought the church wasn’t just full of old people. As one of those old people (who is also clergy), I was overjoyed to participate and experience vitality in the workshops, group worship, and the preaching. Just hanging out playing cards and talking over meals was pretty excellent too.
I have the vantage point of growing up with church revivals in the 1980’s. It was a very different experience from EYE. The 80’s were also high energy, but there was a dark edge to them. In those bad ol’ days, you worried about your eternal soul, and God was really freaked out by every thought that passed through your head. EYE had all of the good parts of a big revival event, with none of this baggage. It was fully queer inclusive. The leaders and speakers were diverse in race and class. The calls for political engagement and environmental activism were clear and inviting.
EYE focused on young people figuring out their ministry right now. I heard this refrain more than once, ”You’re not the church of the future You are the church of now”. All people were welcome, all people were leaders, and all people had a voice. I want to specifically thank Caren Miles and The Rev. Maggie Foote for the hard work they did leading up to and during the event. Many lay leaders and clergy from around the country gave so much for this to go so well. As an aside, Caren loved riding ebikes, just ask her*. Even Spider-Man endorsed EYE on day three (you had to be there).
I’m not writing as a fundraiser, but as somebody who completely believes that EYE is a part of the vital future we need. Please pray for financially support and give your time to the youth and young adults in the Episcopal Church. They are the church now, and EYE 2026 is almost here.
*it turns out you can forget how to ride a bike – Caren