Saint John's has implemented a nationally used and praised youth program entitled Journey to Adulthood. This program takes seriously the need to deal with what is real for young people and to honor their questions and provide them with authentic experiences with a spiritual and liturgical framework. Journey to Adulthood has the following guiding principle: Manhood and womanhood are free gifts from God. Adulthood must be earned. This program is divided into 3 segments: Rite 13, J2A (Journey to Adulthood), YAC (Young Adults in the Church). Each of the three segments is embedded in the Episcopal Faith and each has four components: Self, Society, Sexuality, Spirituality. Each segment has its own curriculum which comes to us as a complete package ready to implement. Our youth also participate in outreach activities such as baking for the Soup Kitchen at Christ Church in Suffern, Souper Bowl of Caring, and the CROP Walk.
Rite 13 involves youth who will be 13 within the two years of the program. It starts with a rite of passage which will take place 2 or 3 times a year in church. This is a moving ceremony which signifies the youth leaving their parents and joining their peers within the church and has the congregation showing their support of the teen's growth. This section concentrates a lot on community building and wants to create a memory foundation for the youth to build on. This is why attendance at these events will be crucial. Besides the "play" there are opportunities for 'lessons" (discussions and simulations) which differ from what is experienced in Sunday school. Lesson topics include: prayer, images of God, decisions, compassion, stereotyping, and faith and trust. A sample activity is the youth participate in a hunger simulation and then take part in a CROP walk.
Following Rite 13, youth participate in the Journey to Adulthood, or J2A, section. This is really the heart of the program. It is more intense as teens learn skills of adulthood. The curriculum is broken into four quarters (each one half a year) and each one concentrates on one of the four components: self, society, sexuality, and spirituality. This program ends with a pilgrimage - the foundation being a retreat and exploration of faith. The pilgrimage in 2006 took J2A to the West Coast, in particular Yosemite National Park and San Francisco. In 2010, the J2A pilgrimage led our youth to the Navajo culture in New Mexico.
The Young Adults in the Church segment gives a lot more control to the youth. This part has a strong concentration on scripture and youth directed service projects. It also encourages youth to take active roles in different organizations and committees of the church.