Well it was everything I hoped and then some.
Just under 1,400 youth, adults, bishops and guests gathered in Berea KY for an astounding time together. It was amazing worship with a Hip Hop mass (before you get your Anglican knickers in a knot this was a very Anglican form of worship that used rap as a vehicle for communicating the Word. While not a rap fan it still touched me, challenged me and made me feel closer to God. Would I choose it for my regular worship? I don't think anyone would be surprised to hear the answer's no. But then it's not really aimed at middle aged white guys who grew up in the suburbs of the '70's. Yet it's clear that there are many young people out there, especially in urban areas, for whom this would be worship that speaks to them in a language they understand. Given a history in our own denomination that emphasizes using the language of the common people in worship, how can we object to prayerful, worshipful, Spirit filled liturgy in the language of the streets?), there was also powerful traditional worship including a sermon from Bishop Michael Curry that was simply beyond description. He blew the roof off the place and brought us all to tears, to laughter, to inspiration and finally roaring to our feet. I've said it before and I'll say it again. I would cross the street and pay to hear the man preach.
The music was provided by a music team that for the first time was made up entirely of people 21 and under. Young people preached and led the events. They met with others from all over the world and made new friends, learned new songs, were challenged in what it meant to be a Christian and an Episcopalian. I know of one young man who came to EYE upset with the furor surrounding Bp Robinson and his perceptions of what the bishop was "doing to" ECUSA. Much to his shock he discovered the bishop in a group with him. They talked and suddenly the young man discovered that some of his assumptions challenged and he has begun a thoughtful process of reasessment.
For me personally the highlights were Bishop Curry's sermon, the presentation by Friends of the Groom, the chance to touch base with some special friends that I don't get to see very often plus a couple of new friends too. And of course the young people. Their energy, their faith, their belief in God and in their larger church. They inspired me and brought me to tears.
I'm very tired still but I don't want to let go of those memories. Of standing just at the edge of the arena and listening to over a thousand voices singing, praying, laughing, praising and worshipping.