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.


April 20-21
Journeys #8
St. Luke’s, Jamestown

The next Journeys Event for our Jr. High youth will be Friday April 20 – Saturday April 21 (7 pm to 3 pm) at St. Luke’s in Jamestown.  Journeys underlying premise is that we are all on a spiritual journey and that in all journeys there are choices, bumps, smooth passages, dead ends, and unexpected surprises.  Throughout the weekend, the youth will be able to explore various ways in which they might be able to “Find God”.  The adult leaders and high school age youth will share something that they do that brings them closer to God.

To register a 6th to 8th grader for the event, please print the Journeys Registration Form and send with payment to the Ministry Center.  Contact Wendy Schumacher, wschumacher@episcopalwny.org, with any questions.


June 2
Star Wars Night at the Bisons
Coca Cola Field, Buffalo

May the Force be with you on Saturday June 2nd (6:05 pm start) for a great night of Bison baseball, some of your favorite Star Wars characters, and an awesome firework show.  The diocese has reserved a group of seats on the third baseline for the evening.  Tickets are $11.00.  To order tickets, please print out the Bisons Game Flyer and send in with payment to the Ministry Center by May 1st.  All questions should be directed to Wendy Schumacher, First Thirty Event Coordinator, at wschumacher@episcopalwny.org.


Sleepaway Camp
August 12-15
Lake Chautauqua Lutheran Center
Bemus Point, NY

New and exciting things are happening this summer at Camp.  Sleep Away is expanding to include all youth exiting 2nd through 8th grade this June.  The camp will be running two different tracks to accommodate the needs of the different age groups.  The first track will be those exiting 2nd through 5th grades and the second track will be for those exiting 6th through 8th grades.  Each track will have their own schedule to follow but will have some overlapping activities.

Sleep Away Camp will take place Sunday August 12th to Wednesday August 15th at Lake Chautauqua Lutheran Canter in Bemus Point, NY. To register campers, please download the Camp Application and Health Form and send in with $50 deposit to the Ministry Center by July 15th.

Camp Staff Needed

Sleep Away Camp is looking for individuals that are willing to serve on staff this year.  We are looking for Jr. Counselors, persons between age 16 and 20, and Sr. Counselors, persons over the age of 21.  All staff members are subject to a background check. Your time commitment would be one or two meetings prior to camp and for the whole duration of camp, 2 pm on Sunday August 12th to 12:30 pm on Wednesday August 15th.  Please contact Wendy Schumacher if interested at wschumacher@episcopalwny.org.

Sue Stanislawski’s Annual Sleep Away Camp Scholarship

Sue Stanislawski is a member of St. Patrick’s, Cheektowaga and has fond memories of her camp experience when she was an youth.  She is looking to sponsor two youth with full-registration camp scholarships to Sleep Away Camp this year. Sue would like a short essay from the child requesting the scholarship telling why the child wants to attend camp and what the child hopes to get out of camp.  She also requests that only those with a financial need apply. Download the Sue S Scholarship Form, it can either be sent to the ministry center or emailed to wschumacher@episcopalwny.org.  Scholarship applications are due by June 1st.  Please use this email for questions.


2017-18 Youth Events

Look for more information to come about the following events:

  • April 20-21 – Journeys Jr. High Overnight
  • May 4-5 – Sr. High Event
  • June 2 – Star Wars Night at the Bisons


2018 Young Adult Festival Registration is Open

Registration is now open for the Episcopal Church Young Adult Festival, scheduled to run concurrently with the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church.

The Young Adult Festival is designed for young adults 18-30 years old to meet peers from across the globe, pray and learn together, engage in the church’s legislative process, and help discern God’s call for the Episcopal Church.

The 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church will be held Thursday, July 5 to Friday, July 13 at The Austin Convention Center, http://www.austinconventioncenter.com/ Austin, Texas (Diocese of Texas). http://www.epicenter.org/

The Young Adult Festival will be July 4-9 in Austin at General Convention.

The Young Adult Festival will include a General Convention 101 session, worship, workshops, and networking opportunities for everyone – from first-time General Convention attendees to advocates and leaders who have attended for years. We look forward to welcoming young adults from across the Episcopal Church to Austin.

Registration is available here https://dfms.formstack.com/forms/yaf2018

The cost for the event ranges between $300 and $675 depending on the housing choices. Registration deadline for those traveling to Austin is May 1 and includes five nights of housing, a Sunday morning brunch, General Convention registration, and all Young Adult Festival programming. Registration deadline for commuters is May 31. Space is limited for each registration choice; registration will close registration when spaces are filled.

For more information, contact Shannon Kelly at skelly@episcopalchurch.org.


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.