CFEONLINE News from the Diocese of Central Florida
New Beginnings: A Weekend for Middle School Kids to Experience ChristMarch 15, 2017 • Rev. Phyllis and Kevin Bartle  • CHILDREN & YOUTH

New Beginnings began in the Diocese of Central Florida more than 30 years ago. It was originally crafted by a team of folks headed up by Pete and Joy Lockwood.  The weekend ran successfully but shut down after many years. A team of dedicated young people and adults have restarted the weekend and are working hard to keep it fresh and relevant for today’s students.

A New Beginnings weekend is designed for middle school students and run primarily by high schoolers.  Adults including youth leaders, clergy, and others attend and help to shape the team’s leadership and ministry skills.

The central theme for each weekend is Relationships and it covers things we all have in common: relationships with self, peers, friends, siblings, parents, Jesus, the church, and the world.  Although the basic schedule of the retreat follows the same set of relationships, different Spiritual Directors, Masters of Ceremonies, and Junior Weekend Advisers interject their own personal stories and understandings.  This—along with a rotating list of skits, videos, and other methods of explaining the various topics—makes each New Beginnings unique and uplifting.

Daniel Buchell from Resurrection in Longwood said: “New beginnings genuinely changed my life in every way. I don’t know where I would be today or if I would be here at all without the experience that New Beginnings gives me every single time. The origin of my faith and my love will forever rest in the fact that I finally faced toward God when I stepped foot at New Beginnings.”

Another participant, Lauren “Taylor” Boeckler said: “During my experience at New Beginnings, while serving on a team and being a participant, I learned a lot about God and myself. New Beginnings gave me a great start in branching out while in middle school. New Beginnings helped me establish confidence and leadership skills I didn’t know I had. Everything we do at New Beginnings is geared toward everyday experiences and applying what we learn to them. I’ve really enjoyed the fellowship, lessons, and activities because it feels like exactly what it is: a retreat.”

Weekends are held in the spring and fall of each year at Camp Wingmann, giving students the opportunity to participate regularly. New Beginnings 108 is happening March 24-26. For more information or to download the participant application, go to the diocesan website at or contact the Rev. Phyllis Bartle at St. Jude’s Episcopal Church, (386) 775-6200.

We encourage all to attend: students, parents, youth leaders, clergy, and anyone else who loves young people and wants to see Christ come alive in their lives.

One such adult couple, Stephen and Brooke Hackler from Incarnation, Oviedo, said: “New Beginnings will always hold a special place in our hearts because it is where we first met, working on team. The weekend teaches foundational principles of relationships with family, friends, and God. Middle schoolers are met where they are in their walk. They journey together through the weekend, building relationships that will last a lifetime, which is why Sunday goodbyes are always warm and fuzzy.”

Register today to enjoy this fun, Christ-filled weekend.

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