As I walked through the doors, I was greeted by thunderous cheers and applause. A second later came the comment, “It’s the Bishop!”
Here’s the thing: they weren’t expecting me. Rather, this exuberant crowd was enthusiastically awaiting the TEC (Teens Encounter Christ) candidates. You see, warmly welcoming those who are first-timers to TEC is the first step in creating the Beloved Community experience for all those who attend.
Shortly after the young people are settled, they gather as a community of the whole, where every person is given an opportunity to introduce themselves to the community. This experience makes it clear right from the beginning that all are acknowledged, respected, and affirmed for who they are. The trifecta of acknowledged, respected, affirmed is the cornerstone of creating the Beloved Community.
As the young people move from the large group into small groups, they begin the process of creating a deeper sense of connectivity—almost familial in nature. It is in this context, and age-appropriately so, that the youth are invited to begin to share their story. Creating a safe, inviting space where all are able to tell their story, their truth, is integral to creating the Beloved Community.
It is probably clear that I am a big fan of TEC. For young people from across ECMN to have the opportunity to live in a Beloved Community is pivotal. For our young people not only to experience, but also get to be a part of, creating a Beloved Community is transformational. Because once you have been in a community that enthusiastically welcomes you, acknowledges-respects-affirms you, provides an inviting safe space for you to share your story—you are changed. You know the world you inhabit, the neighborhood you live in, the people you encounter, can be life-giving.
We are blessed in ECMN to have such a strong and vital TEC ministry. Please support and encourage the young people in your faith communities to be a part of this life-giving Beloved Community experience. Learn more about upcoming TEC and Pre-TEC (a TEC-like experience for middle school youth) here.