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Episcopal Youths Forge ‘Path to Peace’ at EYE17

Episcopal Youths Forge ‘Path to Peace’ at EYE17

By Carla Hinton | The Oklahoman

More than a 1,000 young people from around the country learned about the events of April 19, 1995, as they walked through the Oklahoma City Memorial & Museum on July 12 as part of an Episcopal Church USA youth conference.

The tour and a candlelight vigil at the memorial and museum were among the highlights of the Episcopal Church USA’s Episcopal Youth Event 2017 (EYE17) conference continuing through Friday in the metro area.

The tour and a candlelight vigil at Oklahoma City Memorial & Museum  were among the highlights of EYE17.

Youth organizers of the event said the activities at the memorial fit the conference’s theme of “Path to Peace.”

Trever Mahan of Wichita, Kansas, said he and other youths on the conference planning committee toured the memorial and museum before the youth conference and felt it was an appropriate venue to highlight the need for ongoing dialogue and actions designed to promote peace in the world.

“There’s always a path to peace, no matter who you are, no matter our differences,” he said. “It’s the kind of message that every single young person needs to hear.”

The conference began Monday at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, where numerous worship services, workshops and other activities were scheduled. The Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma partnered with the Episcopal Church USA, the American branch of the Anglican Communion, to host the event.

Neva Rae Fox, Episcopal Church USA communications director, said about 1,400, including adult sponsors and clergy leaders were expected to attend the weeklong conference. She said the conference is held every three years and was last held at Villanova University in Pennsylvania.

Tuesday, Episcopal leaders and youths who helped organize the event held a news conference at UCO to discuss the youth conference theme and mission. The news conference included the Rt. Rev. Edward Konieczny, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma; the Rt. Rev. Michael Curry, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church USA; and the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the Episcopal Church USA House of Deputies.

Conference leaders said the conference was to serve as a call for participants to focus on peacemaking and the ways each of them could pursue a path to peace.

Jennings said bringing a large group of young people together to talk with each other and their clergy leaders about peacemaking and reconciliation “is so critical for the state of the world, for the state of our country.”

“There’s something about a group like this, a gathering like this, that gives young people courage. It equips them,” she said.

Konieczny agreed.

The conference was to serve as a call for participants to focus on peacemaking and the ways each of them could pursue a path to peace.

“I don’t think they have to wait or ‘pay their dues.’ They have the ability to change the world now and probably have a chance to have more of an impact now than we do,” he said.

Curry said the youth conference marked a special time in the life of the Episcopal Church. “The truth is all change throughout history has happened through young people,” he said.

Meanwhile Wednesday, Kari Watkins, executive director of the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum, said she was thrilled to host the conference attendees. She said a trio of people who survived the Murrah bombing building or had a loved one killed in the blast spoke to the conference attendees Tuesday night.

“We’re please to have these kids from all over the country to teach them this story. All hands are on deck and we’re glad to have them,” she said.

“I think if we can teach this next generation to be peaceful, to work together and come together and build bridges instead of walls, I think then we will get the pathway to peace that we all need.”

Kay Boman-Harvey, a deacon from All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Miami, Oklahoma, who is serving as a conference volunteer, said this is only the second time the Episcopal youth event has been held in Oklahoma. She said the first time was in 1985 at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater.

In the featured photo:  A beautiful sight and witness for peace at the Oklahoma City National Memorial on the evening of July 12, 2017. Photo by the Rt. Rev. Thomas C. Ely

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