Kairos, the Virginia Synod youth event for rising 8th through rising 12th graders was held this past week, June 26th-30th at the campus of Roanoke College in Salem. This year over 170 youth and adult participants engaged and witnessed the theme “Judged – Justified – Redeemed” based on Romans 3:23-24.
The verse was presented to the Kairos community by this year’s Planning Group, made up by Jacob Brooks of Christ the King in Richmond, Alice Chandler of Emmanuel Lutheran in Virginia Beach, Kirk Fenerty of First English in Richmond, Kendal Ferguson of Faith Lutheran in Suffolk, Julie Hedrick of Muhlenberg in Harrisonburg, Sean Magri of Christ Lutheran in Roanoke, and Rose Pennington of Faith Lutheran in Whitetop. The group worked with the event’s chaplain Pastor Joseph Bolick of Epiphany Lutheran, in Richmond, as well as Lizzie Campus and Alec Alderman both of St. Philip in Roanoke 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 that the Planning Group takes on throughout the week is performing skits for the Kairos community, translating the week’s verse into a relatable story for participants at Kairos. This year the Planning Group skits revolved around a Survivor-style reality TV series called “Cross-Factor: Judgment Day” where six contestants were pitted against one another in contests of beauty, intelligence, physical ability, and hospitality. Each contest served to show through both humor and serious tones the vulnerabilities participants at Kairos may experience in school and other parts of their lives, starting a dialogue with participants about their own experiences of this culture in their small groups.
As participants at Kairos broke off into small groups, they got the chance to reflect on the week-long theme and relate it back to their own faith life through conversation, games, and activities- with this year’s beautiful weather many small groups even got the chance to play outside together.
During small group time, Kairos participants also worked 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 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 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 Bishop Mauney also visited the Kairos community. He spoke to the youth about the importance of being an Ambassador for Christ, presided over communion, and performed his final “Pharaoh, Pharaoh” as bishop. While speaking to the youth, Bishop Mauney lifted up the ForwardingFaith campaign which is currently ongoing in congregations across the Synod. Many participants at Kairos are proof of the value of faith formation events, with adult leaders, pastors, and youth all with great stories to share of their time spent at youth events in the Virginia Synod.
During the Thursday Evening Eucharist, Whitney Long of Emmanuel Lutheran in Virginia Beach was baptized. Whitney felt a strong connection to the Kairos community during the week-long event, and all present members of the Kairos community, as well as Whitney’s father, acted as her baptism sponsors. Baptisms don’t often occur during Virginia Synod youth events, so this evening was a rare and exciting moment to witness as Whitney was baptized into God’s family!This year’s Kairos was filled with laughter, joy, worship, and deep conversation that encouraged participants to reflect on their faith life, daily judgments, and the gift of God’s grace and love in our lives. 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, “Judged – Justified – Redeemed”.