ECMN offers two statewide TEC (Teens Encounter Christ) retreat programs for our youth. MN TEC is for youth in Grades 9-12, and Pre-TEC is for youth in Grades 6-8. Scroll down for all the information on both retreats.
MN TEC: Minnesota Teens Encounter Christ Retreats (Grades 9-12)
NEXT RETREAT: October 16-18, 2020 (St. John the Evangelist, St. Paul)
What is MN TEC?
TEC is an overnight retreat that empowers teens to integrate the joys, struggles, and epiphanies of their daily lives with the mystery of our shared Christian Faith.
Youth who go to TEC say that the TEC community is why they come back. For many it also becomes a foundational reason to go to Church beyond high school. One of our young people recently said it this way: “TEC helped me understand that my whole life is a part of God’s story. God is in every high and every low. Everything I experience matters, and every moment is a chance to share Agape love with others.”
During your 48 hours at TEC you will journey through Holy Week with personal stories, dramas, delicious meals, music, and a few fantastic, encouraging surprises. Everyone is invited to journey at their own pace, with their own questions, making relevant connections to their daily lives. Each weekend is a new experience with new friends as we all share God’s rich, unconditional Agape love with one another.
Each TEC retreat is run by a team of 40-60 youth who have been through TEC before. Around 20-30 adult volunteers are onsite to assist this inspiring team. The Episcopal Church in Minnesota’s (ECMN) Youth Commission meets throughout the year as the decision-making body for all TEC plans. The Bishop’s Team of Missioners assists TEC with logistics, registration, safe church oversight, etc.
First time attendees are referred to as ‘candidates’. The youth who are returning to TEC on team have a mantra that “TEC is about the Candidates.” One of the very first welcoming messages Candidates hear is: “This weekend is for you. We hope that you are able to not worry about one thing. Just relax. We are cooking your food, keeping the time, and making sure to have some fun. This weekend you get to focus on yourself, your life, and your questions. This is rare in our society, and it is why so many of us keep coming back to TEC.”
Here’s a look at the flow of a usual TEC retreat:
Friday: Candidate welcome, youth talks, free time, holy week drama
Saturday: Easter celebration, youth talks, free time, service project, off-site adventure
Sunday: Youth talks, TEC debrief, invitation to return on Team, closing service
Pre-TEC: An Introductory Teens Encounter Christ Retreat (Grades 6-8)
NEXT RETREAT: November 20-21, 2020 (St. Stephen’s, Edina)
What is Pre-TEC?
Pre-TEC retreats have been happening since 2012. Our activities are uniquely designed to suit the Middle School age group. We call it “Pre-TEC” simply because these weekends are intended to be a gateway into (not a copy of) the high school TEC weekend. These retreats lay a foundation for both teens and their families to have a positive Episcopal retreat experience in a community full of God’s Agape love. Over the past five years, many kids have said that these retreats have given them the confidence to go to the high school TEC retreat (Teens Encounter Christ) retreats knowing that it will be a positive experience. Many of these kids also see each other again at either one of our ECMN summer camps.
Each Pre-TEC retreat has a unique theme that arises from a TEC retreat topic.
On Friday night we open with a lot of welcoming large group activities. After we’ve gotten to know one another, we dig into the retreat theme. Typically we watch several relevant YouTube videos, and then we explore a set of prayer stations in the sanctuary that are designed to help kids have a hands on experience with our theme. We have snacks and play a few more games before lights out.
On Saturday morning we wake up with music and more team building games. Then we hear a few talks by our high school leaders about how our retreat theme applied to their lives in middle school. These talks are very interactive and often include videos, as well. Weather permitting, we go outside before lunch.
On Saturday afternoon everyone works together to design our own “Rite III” worship service. We get to pick our own scripture, song, story, and art that helps us share our retreat experience with our parents and guests who arrive at 5pm.
This program continues to grow. Over fifty middle school students from twelve Episcopal churches participated in our last two retreats. It is our hope that more and more churches will join in creating a unifying opportunity for episcopal middle school students from around the state. Please contact me, Sarah Barnett, your missioner for Children, Youth, and Camping with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.