Camp Season Around the Corner

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Longer days, warmer weather…Summer is just around the corner. For many of us that means time in our gardens, time relaxing with family, or time at the cabin.  It also means time for camp!

ECMN is blessed to have multiple phenomenal camp opportunities.  Episcopal Youth Quest Camp is building on a fantastic inaugural year in 2015, this camp will again focus on leadership development and outdoor adventure.  Through fun, friendship, and formative outdoor experiences, the 6-8th grade track will focus on empowering students to discover their identity as God’s Beloved, develop leadership and confidence, and grow in their sense of ministry and giftedness. The 9-12th grade students will stay in separate cabins though they will often help lead activities for the 6-8th grade track.

Episcopal Youth Music Camp gathers July 31-Aug. 6 up at Camp OneHeartland. EYMC is an opportunity to learn and perform some of the wonderful music of the church in a beautiful setting. Summer in the City 2016 will take place June 27-June 29 at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral. This is a summer city experience for youth who have completed 6th-8th grade. Participants will celebrate being Christ’s hands and feet in our city. Each night will be a fun activity like a city scavenger hunt or Mid-Town Global Market followed by a youth led worship back at St Mark’s. Episcopal Creative Arts Day Camp is July 25-29 at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Minneapolis. Here, we’ll sing, dance, make art, tinker, tell stories, and play indoors and out and experience God along the way, finding the Holy in everyday moments.

As you know my involvement in camp at all levels has, and continues, to be foundational not only in my own formation but also my leadership development. I have responded on more than a few occasions when asked what prepared me to be a bishop, “I was a camp director.” Laughter ensues and then I say, ” Actually, I am serious.  There is much in the rhythm and dynamics of being a bishop that is consistent with being a camp director.”

I unequivocally believe camp is one of the best opportunities for transformation. My hope is you will not only encourage the young people in your life to participate but will also consider financially supporting this incredible ministry for the youth to have such a life changing experience.

Yay camp!  Yay God!


“We all have gifts that differ…”


The Prior boys’ childhood bedrooms are adorned with a fair number of trophies and prize ribbons. To be honest a number of these awards were bestowed upon them for “showing up”. Don’t get me wrong–there is some ‘hardware’ in their rooms that they earned for their accomplishments.  Yes, they are unquestionably a part of what is often referred to as the Trophy Generation.  This term is often used in a negative connotation for giving every young person an award for being there.

On the one hand, I appreciate credit being given for participating.  For a whole host of reasons more and more folks do not like to join in or show up for things. I think it’s great to acknowledge someone for their willingness to jump in, especially if they have no prior experience, and try something new.

On the other hand, if everyone gets affirmed for everything then I believe we miss an important foundational fact of life: we are all uniquely created and uniquely gifted. In fact that is central to our Pentecost narrative. The Holy Spirit, as we hear in the Acts of the Apostles, “pour out my Spirit on all flesh” (Acts 2:17). And Paul consistently reminded the early faith communities, “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” 1 Cor. 12:4-7).

I do wholeheartedly believe our gifts need to be affirmed. In fact, I think one of the primary reasons we gather as the people of God is to discern, affirm and encourage each other’s gifts. “For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ…” (Romans 12:4-6). Different gifts–but all for the greater body.


My hope and prayer for all in this Pentecost season is that we will continue to discern and affirm each other’s gifts. And the reality is sharing our unique gifts is the best prize!

Tending the Relationship Garden


Our neighborhood is alive and vibrant. The warmer weather brings out lots of kids, dog walkers and folks working on their yards and gardens. All of this encourages an increased effort on connectedness.  This, of course, has caused me to ponder.

Why is it we disconnect from others? And I’m thinking about people who are significant in our lives: family, friends, those who have shared a close bond with us. I know the old adage, “Friends for a season, friends for a reason, and friends for a lifetime.” There is no question that people come and go in our lives. Different chapters in our lives are almost always accompanied by different people. However, I’m really thinking about those with whom we hold a significant depth of relationship.

In the early days of being a priest one of the most poignant pastoral conversations I had was with a dying man. He was a person of incredible accomplishment: education, military, career. “Father, you are young and newly married. My guess is you would like to have children; and I hope you do. Please do not make the same mistake I did. I focused on me and my goals and aspirations, and while I achieved much, I am a dying man with few real friends and am not terribly close with my family.” This narrative has subsequently been repeated to me countless times with the same level of regret for not staying connected to those who have been important in our lives.

Losing this connection has all sorts of consequences. I believe among the most impactful is a loss of those who could bring us the greatest clarity about the gifts God has given us, as well as hold us accountable for the stewardship of those gifts.

Like the garden, relationships require consistent tending. When we ‘disconnect’ we lose out on the abundance of what God is creating us to be and the fullness of others’ influence on our lives.