Youth stay silent for a cause

by Donna Ellis

Last December, the youth at St. John’s Ancaster joined the Advent Conspiracy, an initiative of the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF). Instead of buying secret Santa gifts for one another, they donated what they would have spent to the PWRDF Water Project for Pikangikum.

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The group used green tape as a symbol of their silence for a cause.

This inspired them to do a larger fundraiser. At the end of March, from noon on Saturday until noon on Sunday, 18 youth and three leaders spent 24 hours in silence together.

The youth invited people, including those from the congregation, to sponsor their efforts. Once all the funds were in, they raised a total of $2,000 for PWRDF Water Project for Pikangikum and $2,000 for the ministries of St. John’s.

How do you keep 18 teens silent for 24 hours, you ask? Here are some of the things we did:

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“Yes Mom, I am doing my homework.” Time was set aside during the day-long experience.

They communicated by writing notes back and forth and all group announcements were written on a white board.

We began with lunch, after which they decorated tee shirts to say “Silent for a Cause”, so parishioners on Sunday would remember they couldn’t talk.

Time was then spent doing watercolour reflections.

Group games were fun played in silence, particularly Pictionary, Sardines and Jenga.

Free time was given to do homework and to take part in meditation activities—colouring, painting with acrylics, listening to music, journaling, sketching, reading and doing puzzles.

Snacks were always available.

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Participants worked on their reflections through art during their day of silence.

We borrowed a labyrinth from the Diocese and spent an hour in the evening walking the labyrinth, ending with Compline.

Waking up Sunday morning and remembering to be silent was a challenge. There was a penalty if you spoke: 50 cents a word. Each person was given five free words. The penalty applied after that, with all funds going to PWRDF.

We all donned our black tee shirts and after breakfast went to the 10:00 a.m. service.

After church the hospitality group put on a luncheon for us and the whole room counted us down beginning 10 seconds before noon.

High school students accumulated 24 volunteer hours provided they collected at least $100 in sponsors to show their commitment. Everyone loved the challenge. Could you stay silent for 24 hours for a cause?

Donna Ellis heads the Youth, Children and Family Ministry at St. John’s Ancaster.