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 which will again be held of over Labor Day weekend (September 2-4, 2016) at Camp Asbury in Silver Lake.

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 (this year on June 14th at Larkinville) and Western New York Day at Darien Lake (a Sunday in September TBA).

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. This summer the Bishop will inaugurate a monthly worship service followed by dinner designed exclusively for those in their 20’s and 30’s.

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


EYE 2017

Every three years the Episcopal Church convenes an international youth event so “that the energy of the youth of the Episcopal Church can continue to be utilized in active ministry as members of the Body of Christ.”

Since the first EYE in 1982, this popular event has welcomed thousands of young people from across the Episcopal Church for celebration, worship, learning, and leadership training.

The next Episcopal Youth Event (EYE17) will be held in partnership with the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma from July 10-14, 2017 on the campus of the University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond.

EYE is geared for youth in grades 9-12 during the 2016-2017 academic year and their adult leaders.  The Diocese of Western New York can take up to 24 youth, the number of adult chaperones will depend on the size of our delegation.  The cost for each participant would be $350 for EYE registration and whatever the cost of travel is.  There will be fundraising opportunities as well.

I ask that you share this opportunity with members of your congregations that you feel would like to be a part of EYE17.  I am available through email or phone to answer any questions about EYE.  My email is and my phone number is (716) 830-5443.

Applications can be found here:

Application for Youth
Recommendation Form for Youth
Application for Adults
Recommendation Form for Adults


Feast of Lights

The third annual Feast of Lights will take place at St. Paul’s Cathedral on Sunday January 22 at 5:30 p.m.

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 in the Diocese are invited to be a part of the service.  There are parts for readers, candle lighters, candle snuffers and people to hand out things.

Acolytes who want to be a part of the service should arrive at the Cathedral at 3 p.m. with their vestments.

Email Vicki Zust ( to let us know that you are coming or with any questions.

Download a flyer to post at your church!