2020 Episcopal Youth Event Postponed
“unite! ¡unámonos!” in the time of COVID-19 Pandemic
“Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Put on my yoke, and learn from me. I’m gentle and humble. And you will find rest for yourselves. My yoke is easy to bear, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:29, Common English Bible (CEB)
This passage from Matthew, selected by the EYE20 Planning Team to be the guiding scripture for the 2020 triennial, international, Episcopal Youth Event, has taken on new meaning in this pandemic moment of adjusting our life together as we unite to protect the most vulnerable from the devastating and sometimes deadly aspects of COVID-19.
Much as we want to gather together to celebrate all the things that we might do more effectively if united in purpose, it is obvious that we must unite in isolating so that we might divide and conquer this novel virus. Keeping pace with the rapid twists and turns of the landscape created by the contagion is proving to be a full-time effort for those of us attempting to plan an event that involves hosting other people’s children near our nation’s capital this summer. We have been reading scientific articles, learning as much as we can about the medical community’s needs and projections, and as Episcopalians have been a step ahead of the U.S. Government responses to try and protect all vulnerable people through our own social distancing, event cancellations, and building closures.
Over the past two weeks we have been in consultation with many, including officials on the University of Maryland summer conference staff. At this time it is still very unclear what the landscape may look like come the second week of July.
Through much discernment, prayer, and consultation, the Office for Youth Ministries, with the full support of the Department of Faith Formation and the Presiding Bishop and his Executive Leadership Team, must postpone the 2020 Episcopal Youth Event.
This is deeply disappointing for the 18 youth who have been called to serve as the planners. They have been meeting, building relationships, praying, and planning together with their adult mentors from all over the globe these past five months. Many of them are seniors in high school who are also faced with distance learning and questions regarding their own graduations and future plans. All of the adults on the team are fully engaged in local ministries that require a new way of tending to pastoral care in the midst of personal and public health protocols that require physical isolation. It feels right and good to be absolving all of these faithful folks of their extra EYE duties for the time being in order to be more focused at home.
The Office for Youth Ministries will now pivot toward issuing refunds for all of the delegations that have already made deposits against their EYE invoices. We are negotiating with UMD and coordinating with the General Convention Office around the possibility of holding EYE alongside General Convention next summer. We also plan to tend to the needs of the current senior class enduring such unanticipated and unprecedented cultural chaos in the midst of their emerging adulthood. As soon as we are able, we will share updates. We covet your understanding, cooperation, support, and prayers in this extremely difficult and disappointing moment.
Mostly, we pray for your safety and good health, that you may help tend to the sick and the needy as Jesus would have us do.
Bronwyn Clark Skov
Officer for Youth Ministries
The Episcopal Church