Virtual Kairos, our Virginia Synod youth event for rising 9th through 12th graders, concluded last week. This year’s event may have looked a lot different as participants gathered virtually, but so much of what makes Kairos a beloved youth event for the Virginia Synod remained much the same. With over 40 high schoolers and adults present, they got to experience a week full of what the Kairos community knows and loves the best of this event. The week-long theme focused on Genesis 6-9, The Great Flood and Noah’s Ark as well as the biblical theme of “40”.
Pastor Alex Zuber the event’s chaplain, led the Kairos community through the week-long theme surrounding Genesis 6-9 in sermon and play. For much of the week, he encouraged participants in Large Group to join in scavenger hunts that would have them connect their present life with the theme and biblical focus of the day. These moments of reflection and connection for the group allowed for the week’s theme to resonate further with our youth and center them in for conversations held in their small groups later.
Singing in Large Group was led as always by Pastor Dave Delaney who was accompanied by event advisor Sarah McPherson. Pastor Dave took the time not only to teach the words and melody for each song but to also connect it to the larger themes and verses studied during the week.
The Kairos community also observed the praying of the seven “Canonical Hours” that has a centuries-old tradition in the church and which we identify according to the historic names, Matins, Lauds, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, and Compline. Pastor Alex even led the morning and night prayers Matins and Compline on social media, engaging not only the current Kairos community and their family members but also those who had graduated from the event. These opportunities to worship throughout the day kept the Kairos community centered on Christ with prayer and devotion and expanded reflection on their life in faith.
Participants at Kairos still broke off into small groups where 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. Other familiar hallmarks of Kairos were present virtually as well, including the Open Mic Talent Show hosted by event advisor Alec Alderman, the quiz show schticks, the t-shirt and face mask fashion show, time for individual reflection, and prayer around the cross.
A special thanks to the 2019 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. This group returned to put their heads together and work with Pastor Dave Delaney to guide the reimagined event. It’s from their experience last year leading Kairos that they were able to discern what is most important to the Kairos community and distill it down into what resulted in the event’s virtual Large and Small group sessions throughout the week.
This year’s Kairos took shape in a new way and was still filled with laughter, joy, worship, and deep conversation that encouraged participants to reflect on their faith life, and how life disruptors like a flood or even a pandemic can rock our faith. It was amazing to see the enthusiasm our Kairos community showed throughout the week for this event, as they joined in from their homes (as well as a few car rides, in backyards, and even at a library). 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, in a group of “40”.