Church of the Resurrection

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Posts by: Will Chester

Provincial Youth Gathering

March 26, 2017

Every three years, over 1,000 Anglicans from across North America gather for an incredible time of worship, teaching, and prayer at the Provincial Assembly. Usually these conferences are a plane-flight away, but this year's conference is being hosted by Resurrection at Wheaton College!

As part of the Assembly, a Youth Gathering has been organized where youth groups will join the adults for morning sessions and then have their own breakout sessions with prominent speakers, in addition to games and other activities. This is an all-inclusive (food + lodging) three-day experience!

Additionally, since the theme of the conference is "Mission on Our Doorstep," we'll partner with other Anglican youth groups for a four-day mission trip to Chicago. I visited the missions organization we are partnering with and they are the real deal. I expect that our students’ hearts for mission and for the lost and the least will grow through this experience. 

Please speak to your child about this incredible opportunity. You may have already seen the Save the Date that went home with them from RezYouth. For more information and some FAQ's (safety? how will we pay for this?), please see our info site here and attend the upcoming Student/Parent Info Meeting on 4/19, from 6:30-7:00pm, in the St. Timothy room.

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Tell me more about the Provincial Assembly…
Is this event for youth or adults?
 
BOTH! And we don’t just mean that youth are invited to a conference that’s really for their parents! Will has been working with a team of Anglican youth pastors from around the country to make sure that that our afternoon and evening programming is specifically targeted at Junior and Senior High students. Our students will have their own breakout sessions, their own time with plenary speakers, their own worship, and their own games and activities. The significantly discounted rate for youth is evidence of the Province’s investment in our students. 

My child is only able to come to the Assembly and not the mission trip. Is that okay? 
Yup! 

Who is supervising? 
RezYouth leaders will be staying in the dorms with students and supervising just like we would during a RezYouth retreat. 

I would to like to register my child to come to the conference, but I don’t want them to participate in the Youth Gathering. I want them to attend the conference with me. 
The RezYouth registration form is only for RezYouth students participating in the Youth Track. 

If you want your student to join you for the entirety of the conference and do not want them to participate in the Youth Gathering, you must register them with you using your information on the Provincial website. After filling out your information, under additional fees, enter the number of youth ages 13-18 who will be joining you. The additional ticket cost of $135 will be added to your adult registration. (Please note: only youth who are participating in the Youth Track may stay on campus with RezYouth students and volunteers). 

All adults must register through the official registration form. Don’t forget, if you live locally and do not need to stay on campus, you can register for a reduced price of $175 by using the discount code CHICAGOLAND. This code is strictly for local residents; please do not use this code for out-of-town friends, or if you would like to stay on-campus. 

Tell me more about the mission trip…
Who are you partnering with? 

We will be serving under the direction of the Center for Student Missions (CSM), which runs student mission trips in eleven cities in the United States and Mexico. Their purpose is to provide an “urban ministry experience that transforms lives, influences churches and communities, and honors Christ.”

What’s the CSM philosophy? 
CSM is a bridge-builder. They partner with existing organizations who have been serving the city of Chicago and will continue to do so long after our group leaves. In addition to serving, CSM wants students to experience the city and learn about its challenges. That means learning about the history of the neighborhoods we’re serving, eating at local restaurants, and getting to know folks living in the city. CSM is committed to doing ministry under principles discussed in books like When Helping Hurts.

What kinds of things will our students be doing? 
Since our group is so large (including the other youth groups from around the Province), it’s impossible to give an exact itinerary, but activities will likely include volunteering at soup kitchens, prayer tours of neighborhoods, and (for high school students) immersion activities to experience what life is like for people on the margins.

Is this safe? 
YES! Our students will be staying on the campus of North Park University in the Albany Park neighborhood. CSM staff members will accompany us everywhere we go. 

It sounds great, but how will my family pay for this? 
We completely understand that money can feel like a significant barrier to this type of experience. That is why all students participating will be required to help fundraise to cover costs. RezYouth will lead a seminar for students on how to write support letters that are inviting and respectful. Additionally, while $399 is a steep price-tag, it is actually quite affordable in comparison to similar week-long experiences. We are confident that if a student is excited about growing their heart for mission through this experience, they will be able to raise every dollar needed.

Learning to Feel with God

June 06, 2016

Every year, Resurrection hosts a nine-month course called the Transformation Intensive which is based on the spiritual exercises of a 16th century saint, Ignatius of Loyola. The course engages participants in a rigorous practice of individual and corporate prayer designed to help them be transformed by Christ as they encounter him in the gospel narratives.
Resurrection member Will Chester took part in the 2015-2016 Transformation Intensive class and offers the following thoughts on how the course lived up to its name of being truly transformational.


I have feelings. Not a very profound statement, but it's been profound to me during my time in the Transformation Intensive. Let me explain.

My emotional life is even keel--infrequent highs, infrequent lows, steady. So it was with some trepidation that I learned that the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises upon which the Transformation Intensive (TI) is based rely heavily on the emotional life of the participant as a way of connecting to God. I'd considered my emotional stability to be a strength for many years. Certainly it had never gotten in my way while during page after page of historical-grammatical exegesis in seminary. But the Spiritual Exercises were asking me to be less of a scientist, more of an artist, when it came to reading God's Word. If my emotions were to be some of my primary tools, I was going to have to do some digging to see what I could find.

Early on, our TI materials instructed us to do something called "Immanuel Journaling" where we'd take a God's-eye-view of ourselves and write what He sees looking down at us. It was an uncomfortable practice at first--none of us want to put words in God's mouth--but we were assured that the point was simply to listen for what God might be saying over our situation. Thinking about my emotional world from the first-person perspective had resulted in quick dead-ends in the past. Taking a third-person perspective was a bit more removed, and because of that--especially for an emotional newbie like myself--more productive. Far from my fears that I would somehow put words in God's mouth, I found myself doing the very work of theology that I had been trained to do during seminary--thinking God's thoughts after him--only the subject was myself.

Slowly, through the weeks, I began to understand that my emotional steadiness was as much a wound as it was a strength. I'd been taught to mask my emotions in order to keep the peace. There's goodness in that, sometimes, but it stunted me. I could relate to the God of the Epistles; the God of the Psalms and Prophets was more perplexing. I'd never had the boldness to speak to him with the emotional range of the Psalmists, not because of my strong faith, but because of my fear that he might leave me if I did. I didn't know that about myself before TI. I do now.

Through this process, I felt myself becoming more... human. Instead of feeling like an even-keel emotional robot, I began noticing what was happening under the surface: anxiety... fear... loneliness... frustration. I found that as my emotional vulnerability became a path to intimacy with God, it also became one for my closest relationships.

The Gospels took on new light. For years I'd practiced a particular method of reading the bible, asking questions of language choice by the authors and rehearsing the historical setting in which the texts were set and later received. In TI we looked at the same texts differently. Our method was contemplative, placing ourselves in the story as a disciple, sick person, or onlooker. I didn't leave my theological training at the door--my understanding of what the biblical author intended served as imaginative guard rails--but instead of solely engaging my mind to look for the principle, theology, or narrative arc, I used my emotions to engage with the characters in the story. I imagined myself experiencing miraculous healings as if I were right there. I spent time with Mary on the sidewalk of my imagination where Gabriel first appeared to her and then later in the manger as she held Jesus for the first time. Mary became more than just an article of the creed--she became a person with her own fears, her own faith--and the more I understood her flesh and blood humanity by imagining her emotions, the more I understood Jesus' flesh and blood too, as one born of a woman--just like me. The more human Jesus became, the more moved I felt by his acts of mercy, the more I valued his friendship to me.

I've always believed that prayer and scripture reading are central to the Christian life and that they should be transformative exercises, not simply rote practices or mere intellectual endeavor. What TI showed me was that I had tools for these exercises that I wasn't engaging. Learning to feel--and to feel with God--has refreshed my life in new and wonderful ways.

Will Chester
Youth Pastor
will@churchrez.org