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St. John the Evangelist
60 N Kent St.
St. Paul, MN 55102

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Sarah Barnett 
The Episcopal Church in MN 





What is Holy?

A Pre-TEC Retreat for Grades 6-8

The 12th Pre-TEC retreat is April 27-28 at St. John's the Evangelist in Woodbury! When you click REGISTER NOW you'll be taken to a page where you can register as a middle school participant, high school team leader, or adult chaperone. Middle School students often come to these retreats not having any church retreat experience, and they are able to feel welcomed, make new friends, play games, eat good food, and start to learn from their high school peer leaders about how their faith can impact their daily life. 

What is Holy? Our theme for this Pre-TEC retreat is take from one of the TEC talks at the High School Teens Encounter Christ retreats. How do we experience God today? Has something ever felt holy to you? Come hear stories from your peers about how the Holy has appeared in their lives. Perhaps it might have been through a note, a person, creation, prayer, or just about anything else. The Holy Bible is a record of many people’s Holy moments, and we will use it to open up the conversation about how we can discover the Holy in our lives.


We have six rotating themes that are based on some of the high school TEC (Teens Encounter Christ) talk themes. Below is a list of our previous themes and host churches:
  • Fall 2012: Made in God's Image (St. John's, White Bear Lake)
  • Spring 2013: New Life in Christ (St. John's, White Bear Lake)
  • Fall 2013: Face Grace (Church of the Epiphany, Plymouth)
  • Spring 2014: God is Love (Calvary Episcopal Church, Rochester)
  • Fall 2014: Hear. Speak. Feel. (Christ Episcopal Church, Red Wing)
  • Spring 2015: What is Holy? (St. Luke's, Minneapolis)
  • Fall 2015: Made in God's Image (St. Luke's, Rochester)
  • Spring 2016: New Life in Christ (St. Matthew's, St. Paul)
  • Fall 2016: Face Grace (Nativity Episcopal Church, Burnsville)
  • Spring 2017: God is Love (St. Christopher's Episcopal Church, Roseville)
  • Fall 2017: Hear. Speak. Feel. (Christ Episcopal Church, Woodbury)
Here is a summary of our format for these Pre-TEC retreats. 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 eachother again at either Episcopal Youth Quest Camp or Episcopal Youth Music Camp.

On Friday night we open with a lot of welcoming large group activities. After we've gotten to konw 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 buildling 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