Travel info

Our trip to and from Tennessee will happen in a few stages. We're meeting here at church early on Saturday, July 11th, to drive up to Boston, to fly down to Atlanta, and then take a bus up to the University of Tennessee. We'll be flying Southwest, on these flights:

July 11, 2015-   Flight number 2373 from Boston to Atlanta -     11:45am-2:30pm nonstop

July 17, 2015-   Flight number 294 from Atlanta to Boston-         1:45pm- 4:20pm nonstop

We need help driving up to the airport on the 11th and picking up on the 17th. Let me know if you can help drive (if you haven't already talked to Carin about it).

We will plan on buying lunch at the airport before we get on the plane, both ways. Make sure you (or your student) have extra cash for food. 

Make sure you read up on our packing list as you get ready! And be sure to follow along with all our adventures!



Packing for CHIC!

CHIC is only a few weeks away, and it's time to start thinking about packing. Here are some helpful tips and guidelines:

  • Click here for CHIC's suggested packing list
  • We will only be able to bring 1 checked bag per person. If that's a hardship for you, I suggest getting together with some friends and coordinating.
  • "Modest" is the word of the day for clothing and swimsuits. All swimwear needs to fit appropriately, which means it needs to stay on and stay put, covering everything it needs to cover.

If you're having a hard time with anything in particular, please talk to Pastor Chris or one of the leaders and we'll help you get things sorted out.

Read up on our travel info, and make sure you keep up to date as we're in Tennessee!



End of Year programming notes

As the school year draws to a close (or almost starts to begin to kind of draw to a close), we wind down our programming at church, too. We have just two more High School XL nights left, and one more Friday Night Live, and all are going to be extra awesome.


June 7 - It'll be XL as usual this Sunday, and I've invited the current 8th graders to join us. They'll be in high school next year, but XL is way too awesome to not share. Be ready to welcome them!

June 14 - This is our last XL of the school year, and we're having an ice cream party! Please bring your favorite topping to share, and we'll provide the ice cream (because my favorite ice cream topping is more ice cream). It'll be at the same time as usual, 6:30 to 8:30pm.


There's only one Friday Night Live left! Head to church on June 12, 7 to 9pm, for our end of year party and Ice Cream extravaganza! Bring a topping to share and come ready to run around and play lots of games. Lots.

Just because XL and FNL are almost over doesn't mean the fun has to stop! We'll be hanging out over the summer, so make sure you stay connected. If you're not signed up to get text messages, here are instructions.




CHIC Roommates!

Roommate assignments for CHIC are done! Yay! Here are the ladies:

Julia C and Mollie H

Jenny W and Samantha W

Rene V and Sidney J

Kiersten B and Sophia O

Jackie D and Anna N and Sophie U

Lindsay C and Emma C

Katie L and Ellen B

Sarah M and Jill R

Stephanie B and Megan L

Marie U and Shayla B

And for the gentlemen:

Adam J and Jack R

Mark R and Michael C

Myles L and Corey M

Brad N and Greg T

Tyler T, Nick D, and Alex K

Just a reminder: we won't be spending very much time in our rooms, because there will be so much to do outside. We'll also be broken up into small groups and we'll spend a lot of time as a large group, so you'll see everyone lots.

CHIC is just a few months away! Don't forget about the High Ropes day in June! And, for a taste of the awesomeness of CHIC, you're always welcome at XL.



CHIC Excursions and Volunteer Opportunities

Excursions are an awesome part of our CHIC experience. We're heading out a day early just so we can have time together experiencing something we're not going to find anywhere else. These Excursions give us a chance to bond as a group and see some awesome sights. We'll look back on these shared memories for years to come!

In addition to excursions, there are also some wonderful volunteer options. These opportunities are for us to serve God and the community around Knoxville, TN, while we are there to worship. It's a great chance to expand our CHIC experience beyond the campus and beyond ourselves.

The time to sign up is now! So, if you're going to CHIC (or your student is), please fill out the form bellow, or click on this link to open it in another window. We need responses by Saturday, March 28th! Spots fill up fast, so we need to get registered as soon as possible. Please contact me if you have any questions!

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XL, community, and cell phones

Making connections is super important for our high school youth group. In fact, building a community is a fundamental reason for having a youth group at all, and it is really important to build a culture of intentionality on Sunday nights. That's why we're not going to use our cell phones during XL.

Last fall, we spent time in the scriptures looking at the early Christian Church, and we saw there what we want our community to look like. In particular, we want XL to be an intentionally inclusive space; a place where everyone can come and feel welcomed and included in the fun, and a place where we can sit and really be with each other. Toward that end, we thought it would be a good idea to put away our phones.

Our students are actually really good about not being glued to their phones when we gather together, so this isn't a reaction or a punishment, but an intentional step toward deeper community. Physically putting all of our phones in a safe place is a powerful symbol of our commitment to being together at XL. It says to each other that connecting on Sunday night is important enough for us to disconnect from text messages, phone calls, and social media. 

And so we've all agreed, leaders and students, to put our cell phones in a basket when we get to XL on Sundays. During the evening, the basket will go into a safe place so they are not disturbed. As we talked about with the students on Sunday, it is not okay to take or mess with anyone else's phones when we go to collect them after XL. Hopefully, this will help students to not be anxious about leaving their phones for a few hours. We gave it a trial run this past Sunday, and, from my perspective, it was a great success. As the weeks go on, I'm sure this will become a natural part of the flow of our nights.

That does mean, however, that communicating with your student during youth group will be more difficult. So, if you have an emergency or need to convey ride information to your student, feel free to call or send a text message to me (send me a message if you need my phone number). My phone will be on me the whole night. Alternatively, you can call the church office's phone, at (508) 226-6221.

Please contact me with any questions or comments you may have. I'm committed to crafting a wonderful, fun, and inclusive experience for our high schoolers, and you all are important in that effort. Awesome things are happening, and I'm excited about the future!

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Chris



WinterBlast recap


Belong. Believe. Become. 

 That's what WinterBlast was all about. We learned about how Jesus, whenever he meets anyone, first makes sure that they know they Belong with him and his family, and then helps them to Believe and Become all that God has in mind for them.

So we spent a lot of time at this year's winter retreat just being together! And, oh man, it was a ton of fun.

Our students got to help lead some songs, Squanto-style. We played some really intense ping-pong, won some awesome prizes in the up-front games (including a Wii U!), and played a couple great games of Spoons (or 'Bursts, cause we had plenty of starbursts and zero spoons).

And, yes, some students were thrown into the snow. And, yes, they did get their revenge.


During the day on Saturday, we had a couple different teams participate in a cardboard sled race. All our teams did awesome! One of the boy's teams even won an award for "Shortest Journey!" 

Our broomball team did outstanding this year! We won the whole tournament, bringing home the "Golden Broom" for the first time in many, many years, where it will stay for many, many more years, I'm sure. Way to go!


After braving the snow and the cold on the drives up to and back from Pilgrim Pines, we really did bond together as a group. There is a definite feeling of "belonging." It was a privilege to show off our camp, Pilgrim Pines, to some students who had never been up there before. It was a joy to spend time with such amazing middle school students as these!

Special thanks go to Joy and Jared, who volunteered their time to spend the weekend with our students. They're amazing!

I'm already looking forward to next year. Till then, here's a brief video with some highlights of the time:

[vimeo 120060015 w=960 h=540]



Prepping for WinterBlast!

Click the photo for more info on the retreat

Our Middle School winter retreat is at hand! 

It's going to be a fantastic trip, and I'm pumped about each student that's attending.

We are providing transportation to and from the retreat. Here are some details about travel and such:

  • We'll be meeting here at church at 4:30pm on Friday, February 6, so we can be ready to take off by 5.

  • Please bring cash for dinner on the way up, and lunch on the way down. There will also be time to buy Pilgrim Pines gear, so bring extra spending money if you would like.

  • We should be home on Sunday, February 8, between 1:30 and 2pm. Pick up will be here at church. I will email with a definite time on Sunday when we stop for lunch.

Weather looks like it'll be beautiful, but cold up at Pilgrim Pines, so please pack appropriately. Here's a suggested list from the Pines:

  • Warm Clothes (layers are great!)

  • Winter hat, gloves, scarf, pants, jacket, boots, etc

  • Ice Skates (if you have them)

  • Bible

  • Sleeping bag/pillow

  • Towel/bathroom stuff

  • ** One of their new policies requires any guest playing on the ice to wear a helmet. Pilgrim Pines will provide helmets, but guests are encouraged to bring their own

Finally, please print and fill out both sides of this medical release/emergency contact sheet. You/your student can't come with unless we have that signed form!

As always, feel free to send me an email with any questions or concerns.




Winterfest recap

Wow. This was my first WinterFest, and I was not disappointed. Every moment of the weekend, from the bus rides, to the speakers, to late-night chats, to many, many games of air hockey (and I mean a lot of air hockey), was steeped in fun and overflowing in God's presence.

Sometimes in church we can get stuck thinking that God only walks with us in the hard times of life, the tough times. But this retreat reminded me that the Holy Spirit can and does join us in our fun and laughter. And the opportunities for fun never seemed to run out at WinterFest! The game room was open both nights, with pool, foosball, pingpong, and, of course, air hockey. We spent time there just hanging out and playing games. During free time, we got to ride a zip line and the screamer swing (a huge, three person swing you get harnessed into!). And we can't forget the gym full of inflatable bounce castles!

The good times went deeper, too, as we dug into the message that Pastor Judy brought. She asked the question, "What are your 'therefores'?" When you encounter God, there is always a "therefore." I met God, therefore I will care for the poor. I met God, therefore I will befriend the friendless. I met God, therefore I can no longer continue a certain activity or habit or addiction. This idea spurred lots of conversations that we will continue through XL.

My first Winterfest will certainly be one to remember! Thanks to Kim and Heidi for volunteering their time and energy as leaders. After this wonderful weekend, I am pumped for the rest of the school year with our high school students, and am really looking forward to the Middle School retreat coming up in just a few weeks!



Winterfest bus info!

The retreat is just a few short days away, and I'm getting excited.

Here's the departure time info: The bus will meet us at church at 3:30pm this Friday, January 9th. We're the second stop out of three, so we'll need to load up quick and get on our way as soon as possible. That means that you need to be at church with all of your stuff packed and ready to go by 3:15! That'll give us a little flex time if they bus is early and time to get everything set to have a great weekend. We will be stopping for dinner on the way up, so bring some cash for that.

Our return time is a bit more flexible. We will leave the camp around 11am on Sunday, and will stop for lunch (so make sure to save some money for that). We should be back around 5 or 5:30pm. I will let you know via email our anticipated arrival time that day.

The cost for the bus right now is $63 per person. This was not included in the registration fee. If you can pay all of that, please do. If you can't pay the full amount, I'm asking for $20 or anything more that you feel comfortable paying. You can make a check out to "ECC" and bring it with on Friday. If you have any trouble at all with the bus fare, let me know! The church can help out with that.

In addition, students will need to bring $2 cash as a tip for our driver.

It looks like it will be a cold and maybe wet weekend in New York, so dress warm. Shorts and sweatshirt are not going to keep you warm at 20 degrees. Bring layers, something to stop the wind, and good boots. We will be outside quite a bit, so dress for the weather!

Please let me know if you have questions! I'm looking forward to this!