Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 51 year old Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 150 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Monday, July 14, 2014

St. Michael's Conference for Youth - Rector's Rambling for July 13, 2014

It is that time of the year again, when I and a group of young people from St. John’s make the trip up Woodward to Manresa Retreat Center in Bloomfield Hills.
Beginning today, and continuing through Saturday, the St. Michael’s Conference for Youth, Midwest, will be in full swing.  Begun as the Valley Forge Conference in the 1950s, St. Michael’s Conference began meeting in the 1970s on the east coast.  I was a member of that conference’s staff in 1993 and 1995.  In the 1990s a Midwestern branch was begun in Lansing, Michigan.  I joined the staff in 1999 and brought parishioners when I was a priest in the Diocese of Pittsburgh.  It is amazing to realize that I have been on staff here in Michigan 16 years.  Those 12 year-olds at the conference my first year are now 28 years old.  Several of those who were conferees out east, as well as here in Michigan, have gone on to get married to each other, and a group of the young men from both branches have gone on to be ordained priests.  More importantly many graduates of the conferences are now leaders in their parishes, serving on vestries, and leading various ministries.
As much as there is fun to be had at the St. Michael’s Conference for Youth, we make sure that we put “first things first”.  The schedule of worship and classes is rigorous, and we take both of those things very seriously.  The students are there to become to better acquainted with Our Lord and the teachings of His Church.
But as with all things, when we put “first things first”, then we ALSO see the kids having real, authentic fun and forming lifelong friendships with each other.  Jesus models this for us when he says, “But seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).
And of course, the same bible verse holds true for St. John’s Church as well.  Let us be rigorous in worship and learning about our Lord, and the rest of our parish needs will be supplied.