Episcopal Diocese of Western New York

First 30 Ministries

bishop-youth-conventionThe First Thirty Years of life is how the Diocese of WNY frames our support of children’s, youth and young adult ministry. Most churches will tell you that they struggle with holding onto “their kids” after confirmation. In the Diocese we consider the First Thirty focus to counter-act what seems like an inevitable slide. Although still in it’s early stages of development, the First Thirty office offers a variety of support to parishes, regions and the diocese as a whole.

Our First Thirty office has links to a wide range of Sunday School curricula and other programming supports for children from toddlers through elementary school. Whether a big church or a small rural congregation with only one child the First Thirty office can help your parish provide programming that fits your needs and your capabilities. As you gain more young families we can link you with other parishes in your region with whom you can connect for family friendly activities such as Vacation Bible School for the whole family, camping options and partial day and day long outings. We are especially proud of our annual Family Camp.

For the youth of the diocese, the First Thirty office strives to connect the youth in churches with very few youth, with other parishes in their region, to create a critical mass. We are blessed to have parishes in our southern, northern and eastern regions with active and vibrant youth groups with whom we can link the youth in your church. We actively encourage mission trip opportunities for youth and are happy to offer a local mission trip option every year through the Jim Eaton Summer Reading Day Camp, held in Western New York. Additionally, we  offer annual overnights, a “How to Get Ready for College” workshop, an evening with the Bishop at the Food Truck Rodeo and Western New York Day at Darien Lake.

Our young adult programming is much more organic, with the Bishop socializing, worshiping with and studying with young adults in a variety of venues, including Shakespeare in the Park, Canalside, the Elmwood Village and the Buffalo Zoo.

The First Thirty Office is ready to serve you. For more information please contact Canon Dempesy-Sims at 881-0660 ext 14 or cdsims@episcopalwny.org.


January 14
Feast of Lights
St. Luke’s, Jamestown

The Feast of Lights tells the story of the spread of the Light of Christ through readings, music and the lighting of candles.

The service is led completely by acolytes.  All acolytes are invited to be a part of the service.

There are parts for everyone. We need readers, candle lighters, candle snuffers, and people to hand out things.

The 2018 Feast of Lights is January 14 at St. Luke’s, Jamestown.

Acolytes should arrive at St. Luke’s at 2 pm.  We will assign parts, practice the service a few times and then have pizza.  Youth who are not acolytes are welcome to participate as well.  Everyone should bring vestments if they can.

The service will begin at 4 pm.  The service lasts about an hour.

Please email Wendy Schumacher (wschumacher@episcopalwny.org) with the number of participants your congregation is bringing or with any questions.


2017-18 Youth Events

Look for more information to come about the following events:

  • February 4 – Family Winter Fun Day (12-5 pm) @ Lancaster Lodge, Como Park, Lancaster
  • April 20-21 – Journeys Jr. High Overnight
  • May 4-5 – Sr. High Event


Episcopal Church Young Adult Service Corps Accepting Applications

Young adults (21-30 years old) have an opportunity to transform their own lives while engaging mission and ministry in the Anglican Communion by joining the Young Adult Service Corps. Now, applications are available for 2018-2019 placements in the Young Adult Service Corps, commonly known as YASC.

Currently YASCers are serving throughout the Anglican Communion, working alongside partners in administration, agriculture, communication, development, and education. They are serving in Brazil, Costa Rica, England, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Africa and Tanzania.

Among possible placements for 2018-2019 include (but not limited to) Brazil, Costa Rica, El Salvador, England, Honduras, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Jerusalem, Mexico, Panama, the Philippines, South Africa, Taiwan, and Tanzania.

“The Young Adult Service Corps offers young adults the opportunity to live out their faith in new ways and different contexts,” commented Elizabeth Boe, Episcopal Church Mission Personnel Officer. “They commit to spending a year learning from and working, living, and praying with other Episcopal and Anglican communities around the world.”

The application for a 2018-2019 placement with additional information and instructions is available here. The application deadline is Friday, January 12, 2018.

The Rev. David Copley, Director of Global Partnerships and Mission Personnel, noted, “YASC builds on the foundation of faith, knowledge, education, and experience that young adults bring with them when they serve and offers opportunities to be challenged and transformed by being fully present in another part of God’s world. Missionary service is first and foremost an act of faith and a way of being Church.”

For more information contact Boe at eboe@episcopalchurch.org.

YASC blogs are here.

Additional information about YASC and videos available here.


Summa Theological Debate Camp Accepting Applications

SUMMA Student Theological Debate Society is inviting high school students entering grades 9–12 in the fall of 2018 to apply for SUMMA Debate Camp, held July 17–25 at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. SUMMA Camp is a unique opportunity for students to explore their faith through intellectual channels, meet lifelong friends, and have a lot of fun on one of the most beautiful college campuses in the country!

At SUMMA Camp, students of all faiths learn valuable skills for debate, public speaking, and theological reflection. No previous debate experience or formal theological study is necessary. Campers have a true collegiate experience, but camp is not all work! There is plenty of time left over to swim, play sports, watch movies, go bowling, and have lots of great, summer fun!

At the beginning of camp, a resolution is introduced, and each student argues both sides of the issue. Past resolutions include:

  • “In Christ there is hope for Cruella de Vil,”
  • “Christians, Muslims, and Jews all worship the same God,”
  • “Euthanasia is morally justified,”
  • “Christian marriage is a solemn and public covenant between a man and a woman in the presence of God,”
  • “Outside the Church, there is no salvation.”

At the end of camp, the SUMMA prize is awarded to the student who best exemplifies the spirit of SUMMA camp: speaking the truth in love. The SUMMA prize includes a $1,000 scholarship.

For all students, the cost of SUMMA is partially defrayed through donations, grants, and an endowment. The cost to parents is $750, which includes room, all meals, and all materials.

A limited number of scholarships are available for students with demonstrated financial need.

For more information and to apply, visit summa.sewanee.edu, or contact recruitment specialist Walker Adams at hwadams@sewanee.edu.