JOURNEY TO ADULTHOOD
The Journey To Adulthood Program serves as the curriculum for our 7th-12th grade classes, and as the basis for our Rite 13 (6th-8th graders) and J2A (9th-12th graders) Youth Groups. A minimum of two years' participation in this program is required for Confirmation, which usually takes place at the end of 10th grade. At the end of the school year we gather for a celebration with each student receiving a Certificate of Participation!
This six-year program for 11 to 17 year olds is one of the more exciting faith formation programs for youth available today. It was developed to attract, instruct and nurture young people at the time in their lives when they are most likely to drift away from the Church. The program is built around three distinct phases of development, each encompassing two years:
- Rite 13 (11 to 13 year olds) recognizes the passage from childhood to manhood and womanhood. For more information, please see below.
- Journey to Adulthood (J2A) works with 14 to 15 year olds as they practice adulthood skills and positive life attitudes. For more information, please see below.
- Young Adults in the Church (YAC), the third segment, asks youth to assume the responsibilities of an adult.
This youth ministry program includes youth group meetings, movie nights, social ministry activities, liturgies, pilgrimages and more.
Young people enter Rite 13 probably at age twelve. (The young person should turn thirteen sometime during the two-year duration of Rite 13.) When they turn thirteen, this event is celebrated in the church with a service loosely modeled on the Jewish bar mitzvah.
In this ceremony, the young people are charged with the responsibility to use wisely the creative power unleashed within them at puberty. It is procreative power as well as energy useful to all aspect of life. They then leave the congregation in saying a portion of Psalm 139. This is followed by a prayer for parents as they watch their children leave them, embark on the journey of transition from child to adult, and wait for their return as adults and friends.
This is followed by a charge to the peers in the Rite 13 class. The peer group is reminded to stand beside them, knowing that their support may mean more than any other in the months and years to come.
There is also a Covenant, a reminder to the congregation of their commitments and responsibilities to their youth. Finally, the young people kneel as the Celebrant and parents lay hands on each young person. A prayer and a blessing conclude the liturgy. Each young person receives a certificate commemorating the day.
The two years of Rite 13 are fun - games are played, they laugh a lot, and they learn a lot. Matters are treated in a light-hearted way, but that does not mean that serious matters are avoided. Much time is devoted to the great stories of "Holy Scripture and their validity in our day. Such scripture as: Lord, you have searched me out and known me (Psalm 139); Human beings created equal and co-creators with God (Genesis 1:26-31); the boy Jesus in the temple (Luke 2:42-52); and the parables of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30).
Among other things, the class deals with prayer, with the ways they see and encounter God, with possessions and their importance in our lives, with trust in God in a faith journey together. Every effort is made to keep the process experiential, with a hands-on and "hearts-on" focus. Perhaps more than anything else, all activities are geared to build community among Rite 13 participants, to establish trust and safety, to remind young people again and again that this is their church, and that they are safe and welcome within it.
Rite 13 is structured to build a foundation of principles and memories. Memories are important in structuring a community. The Christian faith, like any other religious tradition, is rooted in a heritage of shared memories. Rite 13 provides a balance between physical activities - rope courses, CROP walks, ski trips, hikes and general romping around, and a slow and steady exploration of the development of personality and faith.
Rite 13 asks something else of us as a community: it anticipates we will provide our young people with approximately 160 contact hours over a two-year period. These contact hours are divided between Sunday morning sessions focusing on the exploration of faith and personality, and afternoon and weekend sessions which focus on physical activities, movies, diocesan events, and service in the community.
The opening activity for the two years of J2A, for grades 9-10, is an activity in independence, of naming and owning a particular role in the activity, of learning from the feedback they receive from others in the group. The two years are off and running. The work of knowing one's self and how one relates to society and to God has begun.
J2A builds on Rite 13 by training young people in six necessary skills of adulthood: Listening, Assertion, Negotiation, Research & Information Management, and Partnership & Leadership.
As with Rite 13, there is a common systematic focus on all the aspects of a whole person. Self, Society, Sexuality, and Spirituality are the areas which are covered, in depth, in the light of the Gospel, in order that the reality of young people's lives can be strengthened, encouraged, healed, corrected, and empowered by the life and wisdom of Jesus Christ.
The program takes seriously the need to deal with what is real for young people, to honor their questions, to assure them that they are real people with real, valid, and authentic experiences. And we undertake to place a scriptural, spiritual, and liturgical frame around each and every one of those experiences. To do less than that is to imply that God is only interested in our piety or in our ability to participate in certain rituals. God is absolutely interested in every aspect of human life. That is one reason for the incarnation: to remind us all, time and time again, of God's presence in the mundane and the sublime, in our search and in our silence, in our understanding and our misunderstanding.
By entering into a dialogue with young people about all of their concerns, and by offering to them the instruction of faith, as best we can, we seek to show these youngsters, in the words of the Collect for Young Persons, "That your ways give more life than the ways of the world, and that following you is better than chasing after selfish goals" (BCP829).
If we look at the self in isolation, rather than as part of the Body of Christ, we miss God's calling to wholeness. And if we consider societal needs and social action without considering the implications of our spirituality, we miss the chance to see that all of God's actions in history have been on behalf of the poor, the downcast, the disenfranchised. As we acknowledge and re-establish the links between Self, Sexuality, Society, and Spirituality, we empower ourselves and young people to offer our bodies - in fact, our whole lives - to God as a living sacrifice.
At the end of the two years of J2A, the group is given a course in preparation for Confirmation. As this point, most young people are ready to make "a public affirmation of their faith and commitment to the responsibilities of their Baptism ..." After four years in the Journey To Adulthood Program, participation in Confirmation becomes a mature decision made by spiritually-equipped young people, and it places Confirmation in its proper context, not as a rite of passage, not as an exit ritual, but rather a chance for the individual youth to confirm that which was said for them and to them at their Baptism. It is their chance to stand before the community of faith and make a public declaration of their understanding of their place in the journey of faith, and their desire and willingness to continue the journey with us, all together, in the Body of Christ.
- Episcopal Conference Center
Located on an old New England farm in northwest Rhode Island. Registration form may be downloaded from their web site. 872 Reservoir Road, Pascoag, RI 02859; (401) 568-4055.
- Grotonwood Christian Camp
Info on summer camp & resource centers located in Groton, MA.
- Oceanwood Christian Camp
Info on summer camp & resource centers located in Ocean Park, ME.
- Eagle Lake Camps
Mission is to inspire and equip youth to live and love like Christ; info on summer camps.
- Chalmers Music Seminars
A site devoted to exploring the dangers of negative mainstream music, and offering Christian contemporary music as an alternative.
Modern worship music and mp3's.
- Acquire The Fire Online Devotional
View devotional entries and responses or register to participate.
- Bible Trivia
Take the test and see how you measure up!
- Center for Student Missions
Offers urban mission and service experience for students that "transforms lives, advances the church and honors Christ."
- Confrontation Point Ministries
Provides mission trips and adventure trips for church youth groups, focusing on how these experiences can help a group grow. It is a great place for students to work over college summers with a group of Christians who are "passionate about hands-on education."
"The Intersection of Faith & Life" site offers chats, forums, news, entertainment, and resources.
- Girls' Friendly Society
The Girls' Friendly Society is an international, non-profit organization affiliated with the Episcopal Church for girls and young women.
- Teens Alive
Designed for youth leaders, parents, and students; includes fundraising ideas.
- YouthLinks at Peggie's Place
Fun 'n Faith links and daily mailings.