Kairos, the Virginia Synod youth event for rising 8th through rising 12th graders was held, June 23rd through the 28th at the campus of Roanoke College in Salem. This year over 140 youth and adult participants engaged and witnessed the theme “Turning the Tables” based on John 2:13-22.
The verse was presented to the Kairos community by this year’s Planning Group, made up by Matt Boyle of Epiphany Richmond, Reece Derrick of St. Phillip Roanoke, Serena Fick College Lutheran Salem, Tim Hoffstaetter of Faith Suffolk, Elizabeth Loving of Mt. Zion in New Market, Erin Matthews of Peace Charlottesville, and Lauren Silsdorf of First Norfolk. The group worked with Pastor Dave Delaney, Pastor Meredith Williams the event’s chaplain, as well as Sarah McPherson and Alec Alderman who both served as advisors to the group. The Planning Group helped shape the week-long event, spending months in preparation before the participants arrived making sure everything was prepared, and their hard work was well recognized this year.
The most visible presence the Planning Group takes on throughout the week is performing skits for the Kairos community, translating the week’s verse into a relatable story. This year’s planning group shared how much they value Kairos and how it’s impact on their life of faith is clear, rather than the distortion that can happen day to day. From here, the group started to wonder what it would be like if Kairos was to become an event that was destructive, rather than healthy for faith life. As a result, this year the Planning Group skits took a glimpse into an alternate future, Kairos 2031, which showed how Kairos would need Jesus to enter the scene and dislodge those destructive practices and forces, similar to the cleansing of the temple story!
Each skit revolved around this alternate future Kairos and the event participants who were not living out the event authentically, but rather in an effort to earn gold stars. Throughout the week, the Kairos community got to glimpse at these unhealthy faith practices like seeing who could walk the most laps in the labyrinth, crying for the sake of crying, trying to write the best faith testimonies and more. By the end of the week, it was revealed that the event had been hijacked by the evil Dr. Chronos, and with Dave’s help, the group was able to see clearly what Kairos can represent in their faith life.
For more than 15 years, in addition to celebrating Holy Communion on Sunday and Thursday, the Kairos community observes the praying of the seven “Canonical Hours” that have a centuries-old tradition in the church and which we identify according to the historic names, Matins, Lauds, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, and Compline. The opportunity to worship throughout the day kept the Kairos community centered on Christ with prayer and devotion and expands reflection on their life in faith.
As participants at Kairos broke off into small groups, they got the chance to reflect on the week-long theme and verse, and relate it back to their own faith life through conversation, games, and activities. They also got the chance to work together to plan and prepare a proclamation based off of an assigned passage. These proclamations are a chance for each Kairos small groups to communicate to the community what they have discovered about their passage, and the conversation surrounding it in a way that announces the good news of God’s love to the rest of the community during the Thursday afternoon’s large group. The Kairos small groups are asked to live with the text as they work on their proclamation throughout the week, diving into it through conversation and planning to find the nuances of the word. This year small groups presented to the Kairos community an exciting variety of presentations, from humorous skits featuring elaborate handmade costumes to presenting handcrafted tokens to the Kairos community that small group members felt best reflected the meaning of their passage.
During the week Assistant to the Bishop, The Rev. Kelly Bayer Derrick as well as Bishop Humphrey both visited the Kairos community. Pastor Kelly shared with the Kairos Community that she is a resource for those considering a call to ministry, as well as an advocate for justice with groups like Tapestry, VICPP, World Hunger, and other ELCA justice initiatives. While speaking to the youth, Bishop Humphrey lifted up the importance of the Kairos community and the role of youth in the life of the church.
This year’s Kairos was filled with laughter, joy, worship, and deep conversation that encouraged participants to reflect on their faith life, what can pull us away from a healthy life of faith, and how Jesus can turn the table in our faith. If you had youth, adult leaders, or a pastor present during Kairos, ask them about their week! They’re sure to have many stories to share about their time spent together, “Turning the Tables”.