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  • Rev. Barbara Ballenger

Rector’s Note: Signs of Spring in a youth gathering-5.11.23

This spring feels different than the last several, I must admit. While COVID is still among us, its effects for most are less severe, we have gotten used to taking our precautions and tests. Perhaps a new normal really is upon us. I’m appreciating the things I’m seeing for the first time this spring.

Last Sunday, we met with parish youth for the first formal youth and teen event since I arrived a year ago. Seven of our youth and five adults attended, which made for a wonderful evening, over dinner, conversation and a group game.

I was a little worried leading up to the event. Signups were low. Would enough people come to have a good time? But some in-person invitations did the trick that Sunday morning, and our gathering exceeded my expectations.

Over and over, I am learning this lesson as I ease into my second year at St. Peter’s. It is worth trying the new thing, even when it is hard to predict whether it will be welcome or on target. There is a little tug of fear that can stand in the way of getting things off the ground. When I have finally pushed past it, I’ve been delighted at what has been waiting on the other side.

Our youth on Sunday brought that lesson home. Some were new to the parish, others knew their way around the kitchen from years of calling St Peter’s their home. Some were cautious and a little anxious. Others stepped up to make them feel welcome. Garlic bread was assembled, pasta cooked and drained, meatballs warmed, salad tossed, the table set. Making dinner broke the ice.

The conversations around the table ranged from favorite television episodes to what we tend to cook when we’re at home.

Then we split into two teams and played a rousing game of Monikers, led by my husband Jess, who is an avid game collector. Monikers is multi-part guessing game that includes verbal clues and charades. Once you’ve gotten your team to guess something like “the elephant that Thomas Edison electrocuted” using only one word, you know you’ve broken some ice.

We took a group photo, because how could you not? And at the very end, before everyone scattered, I asked the youth if they would like to gather again, and what they would like to do. The answers came quickly and with enthusiasm – arts and crafts… MadLibs...a trivia night … bowling against St Anne’s… a camping trip… a coffee house … an urban hike … a movie night. Plenty to keep us busy.

Special thanks go to People’s Warden, Dave Kipphut for envisioning the gathering and making it happen, with the help of his spouse, Audrey. And thanks to Jess who brought a great selection of games, which he booked up on for days, anticipating a variety of participants, ability levels and interests.

We’ll meet again, and hopefully have even more momentum by the fall. If you’d like to be involved with creating more programming for our youth and teens moving forward, please contact me at

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