We're Episcopalians, So We're Both Right — and That's Fine

The second Sunday of every month, we gather in the Children’s Chapel for a special Eucharist service. It is a unique time where the children listen, observe, and pray in ways that may not resemble the mannerisms of adults. All participants are able to stand around the table, close enough to touch each other. They lean in close, often with eyes fixed on the bread and wine. They have to be reminded to step back so the celebrant can circle the table and give each person the bread and the wine or a blessing. Sometimes, however, their curious minds and fidgety hands can be a distraction or worse. During the children’s Eucharist in December, one young person asked if the cup had blood in it, and another young person said it was wine. The two argued back and forth saying, “It’s wine” and “It’s blood” until one person shoved the other and both had to be escorted outside. I knelt down to hear each person’s side of the story and why they thought it was blood or wine. We talked about how physical force and violence are not tolerated, nor do they justify or prove either person’s position. But I wanted to address their theological questions too.

Their arguing took me back to some of the frustration I felt when I read Zwingli and Luther’s arguments over the Eucharist and what Jesus meant when he said, “This is my body . . . this is my blood. . . .” I informed these young people that countless others have had this debate for centuries. And I assured them, at the risk of overstepping my role, that they are both right, that the Episcopal Church makes room for both of them at the table. Because these are outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace, we do not have to draw lines or claim corners and positions. We did not get into the fine points of transubstantiation or consubstantation, but we did reconcile our differences with offers of apologies and forgiveness. We did not make it back inside in time for the post-communion prayer, though we acted it out in a way. We had reflected on the spiritual food we were fed and we formed a new peace to carry us into the world. But I’m still thinking about how stubborn, willful, and self-assured we can be and how amazing it is that we are graciously accepted as living members of God’s Son our Savior Jesus Christ. We can hold on to our ideas, beliefs, and preferences; and we can pass them on to our children. And yet, despite all our differences, we share a miracle as we are sanctified to receive the sacrament and serve God in unity, constancy, and peace. It makes me wonder beautiful things about life to the fullest, new creations, and what Jesus has in mind for Peter (and for us!) when he says, “Feed my sheep.” --Justin Walker

Bringing our Gifts to the Table: the Body of Christ

By Justin Walker: Youth Leader

In October and November, I made four trips over the Skyway to the DaySpring Conference Center for various ministry information meetings and workshops. On one occasion, I attended my first Happening! Though I can’t reveal what goes on at a Happening, I can say that every trip I make to DaySpring — most of which I share with youth from the Cathedral and the diocese — confirms something amazing: We share beautiful gifts.

The physical space of DaySpring is majestic to behold. Settled on the Manatee River, it is a wonderful place to attend an Eastertide quiet day with the Bishop or a louder summer camp or youth ministry weekend. It is in these ministries where we can see the youth share their gifts of leadership, empathy, joy, and worship with each other and with everyone they meet. The location that is itself a beautiful gift attracts and cultivates the gifts and talents of everyone there.

We too at the Cathedral have beautiful facilities that encourage face-to-face gatherings and transformative connections. There is a worship service, group meeting, dinner, etc. going on every day somewhere at the Cathedral. We share the youth group room as meeting space for other ministries during the week. We get to share our gifts with each other, help each other grow our gifts, and — though it is seldom recognized — we get to receive each other’s gifts. Each person brings his or her own gifts and experiences to the table, wherever it happens to be set. Our youth have been exploring where we can gather and how we can welcome others to the table.

Recently, we’ve been remembering those around the St. Petersburg deanery and beyond. Our weekly Sunday evening ministry and our larger monthly outings continue to welcome youth and grownups from around the area. In early November we joined members of several parishes in the deanery for our Youth Event: Painting & Paintball. Youth from St. Giles, St. Anne of Grace, St. Thomas and a representative from the diocesan office joined Cathedral youth for an afternoon of slightly painful adventures.

We were able to play several games of paintball followed by a pizza dinner, where we had a chance to laugh about the games and show off some bruises. We also had time to talk about upcoming events and hear more about what the youth would like to do regarding mission trips, service opportunities, and a big push for Cathedral youth to attend Happening 76 this March at DaySpring.

Many of the high school counselors and leaders at DaySpring summer camps, New Beginnings, and Happening got their start at their first New Beginnings or Happening in previous years. They experienced something that shaped them and inspired them to join in and support later attendees — in a way, they were called. By serving in leadership roles at later DaySpring camps and ministries, they are contributing to the transformation of those attending who are experiencing much of the same joy and overwhelming love that the leaders knew and felt at the beginning of their journey.

We are well positioned to continue growing youth leadership through our ministries at the Cathedral and by their participation at DaySpring. We are also fortunate to have the Jim Budd Youth Fund to provide scholarships for most of the DaySpring ministry participants and fund mission trips and experiences like the Episcopal Youth Event (EYE 2017) last summer. Shared experiences inspire our youth to leadership and service. DaySpring is a beautiful, sacred place that connects youth with old and new friends from around the diocese, where they can grow in their knowledge and love of the Lord. At the Cathedral, we are growing a youth ministry that seeks to do the same.


Regularizing Children in Church


Making up words is fun 

(like: regularizing)... but it doesn't compare to hearing our Children and Youth read from the lectern or hearing their voices in the Eucharist prayers. Who else heard them last Sunday? Who else was nearly moved to tears? Wouldn't it be great to hear that more often or to regularly see some young people welcoming members and visitors into the Cathedral? 


Rather than continue monthly Children in Church services, we are beginning to welcome Children and Youth to regularly serve in various roles during the 10:15 service.


Thank you to all who made this such a positive experience for the Cathedral. Email Justin for more info. jwalker@spcathedral.com

Cathedral Youth: Who are we? What do we believe? & What is our path?

Thanks to everyone who came out for the Youth & Grownups Dinner on August 17th! We had a great dinner, the discussion was fruitful, and Emily enjoyed her birthday! The dinner provided a space for Cathedral Youth and their Grownups to share dialogue with Emily and I in response to three questions:

Who are we, What do we believe, and What is our path?


Who are we? Well, this question was answered both by Emily and I and by the Youth. This was our first meeting with some at the dinner who had their questions about our  journey to the Cathedral, our interests and experiences with Youth ministry, and our hopes for the next few years. We also discussed the composition of the Youth regarding age groups.

  • The age range for the Youth roughly spans 13-18 years old.

    As part of our efforts to build continuity and inclusiveness,

  • we have also formed a Middlers group of 10-13 years olds.

    These groups will provide space for maturity-based programming and discussions. However, these divisions will also require greater involvement of more consistent volunteers and chaperones to maintain these groups.

    The weekly Bible & Go ministry is tentatively planned for the Youth (13-18) on Sunday nights from 5:00-7:00pm. There will be a combined event for the Youth and Middlers each month.


What do we believe? We believe the Cathedral Youth are not the Church of tomorrow; they are the Church. As the Church, we look to what we proclaim and affirm for our beliefs and our ministry.


We believe, as taken from the Episcopal Church Youth Ministries website, that Youth ministries is a “bridging ministry of education, connection, formation and, hopefully, transformation.” Again from the Episcopal Church, “Youth Ministries calls for passion, patience, and faithfulness--pointing out the sacred in the midst of the chaos of adolescence and walking faithfully with young people as they transition from child to young adult.” It is with this understanding that we make and make known our path together.


What is our path? One of my favorite Psalms has an almost imperceptible detail that magnifies its possibilities. Psalm 16:11 can be read “You make known to me the path of life” or “You have made known to me the path of life” or “You will make known to me the path of life.” But I’ve never read it as an either/or situation but an all-the-above scenario. We both know the path before us and it is being revealed to us with every step. Is it any different with our Youth? We (the Grownups) have all been youth, even if we don’t remember it or our young people don’t believe we were ever anything close to their age. We may know how we made our way through adolescence, and yet it may not be the same path for our Youth.


Part of our path together is recognizing the importance of relationships in this season and the potential for harm or growth. Among myriad challenges, modern technology raises new concerns about boundaries and communications expectations. As we grow our relationships together, we do so according to Safeguarding guidelines, with open, public communication lines rather than private or personal messages. Out path together also includes more Youth led services and events. The predominant Youth led programming for this year is the weekly ministry Bible & GO. We are also looking to the Grownups of Youth to assist with planning and chaperoning various events. We will discuss these and other opportunities at an upcoming workshop dinner to discuss the different seasons and styles of being Grownups to Youth, i.e. how can we support the various parents and guardians of Youth alongside our support of the Youth?

  • stay tuned for a workshop for grandparents of youth

Post InstaMeet

Salutations! (a summer letter from Youth Minister Justin)

Greetings from the Children & Youth Ministries at the Cathedral Church of St. Peter. We have enjoyed getting to know some of you over the past few months, and we hope to meet the rest of you soon. We wanted to update you on a few recent events and to let you know about up-coming ideas.

We had our first Instameet in June at the Cathedral before the Burns Friday Night Movie. We shared a meal and ideas with the youth to explore plans for the summer.

Some of the most prominent ideas for events are:

  • lock-ins

  • cooking-lessons and demos (Parents, can you believe it?)

  • yoga

  • disc golf

  • just about anything related to DaySpring.

We also discussed various outreach and ministry options like:

  • community gardening: how about St Pete Eco Garden?

  • volunteering at the St. Pete Free Clinic, Campbell Park Elementary, and other local partners

  • hosting fundraising dinners

  • "Canoeucharist" (a canoe trip/clean-up mashup with communion)

We would also like to keep an eye out for events like:

  • Christmas Pageant date tba

In the meantime, Emily and I are happy to meet with youth at the Cathedral most afternoons Monday - Friday. And let us know about upcoming games or competitions that you have; we'd love to support you and your interests.

All best,



Post #1

You will notice that this blog is starting off as rather plain and generic... that is because Justin and I, as Co-Ministers of Children & Youth here at the Cathedral, hope that the Youth themselves will create the direction of our youth group this year. You will see this blog grow as our youth group grows this year. 

Some thoughts: Youth is a difficult term to describe. What is youth? Right now, at the Cathedral, the youth includes all 5th-12th graders. As you may be thinking, others have noted that this is a wide window for age and maturation... we will probably break into more than one group before too long. 

Events: We have very few events on the calendar for youth moving forward. That is because, we hope the youth will contribute their ideas to build the vision for this year, with our guidance. This summer, and this year, and the next years to come, and the future of the Church as a whole... And of course the present of the Church. Because youth are.. young.. but also present in the Church today, like all of us. 

Looking ahead: very soon ahead we have an event- Friday night! This Friday June 16! An Instameet that we will post all over the website, facebook, instagram and contact people about (they say contacting individuals is the best way to invite someone... so I may invite you personally to read this blog.. in person)

There are many things happening this summer for Children. Youth are always welcome to come to those events and help and volunteer and get service hours... but we want to make (the) youth an intrinsic part of life at St Peter's, so be on the look out for that, please. 

The acolyte Festival is in the fall, youth can participate in Children in Church this summer and there will be a Christmas pageant. But I have a feeling, do you?, that the youth will form a particular personality and presence through choosing ways to pray and service together, in addition to the formational offerings of the Cathedral. 

Please continue to check in here as our youth group grows. We'll report back after the Instameet on Friday.