What is Happening?
Happening is a Christian experience presented by teenagers, for teenagers with the help of clergy and lay adult leadership. The Happening program is meant to be one of the instruments within the Anglican Tradition of renewing the Christian church in the power of the Holy Spirit, so that the church may more readily respond to its call to spread the Kingdom of God throughout the world. It seeks to achieve this purpose by bringing young persons and adults to fuller personal knowledge of and relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and to a deeper level of commitment and apostleship.
What can I expect at a Happening weekend?
During the Happening weekend, which usually begins Friday evening and continues through Sunday afternoon, there are many activities designed for fun and Christian community building among participants.
Throughout the weekend, a series of talks are delivered by youth and clergy to logically present the elements that define the catechism process and a mature profession of faith. The presentation of key talks by youth using personal life experiences is intended to offer Christ's message to attending Happeners on a level they can understand and to answer many of the faith questions youth struggle with daily. Talks about church teachings and their importance in the lives of youth attending the weekend are presented by clergy in a fair and friendly manner. Each talk is a critical building block in the creation of the Happening message. The entire series of talks is given in a sequence that is intended to guide Happeners by opening an avenue of discussions to help them verbalize and internalize their faith questions in a safe environment, hopefully leading to a new or renewed relationship with Christ.
Caritas, signs of God's love through letters, messages, and small tokens, is distributed at times throughout the weekend to deepen fellowship and to demonstrate the knowledge and support that comes to each weekend from the "wider church." For many, caritas provides the awe-inspiring revelation that each one of us is incredibly loved, not just by the God who made us, but also by a wonderful community of fellow believers around us.
When and where did Happening begin?
The program now known as Happening originated in Dallas, Texas in the mid-1970s when some high school-aged teens saw the change that Cursillo created in their parents' lives and wanted to have the same transformative experience. Because their children were not old enough to attend a Cursillo weekend, the parents decided to create a program for their teens based on the Cursillo model, but in a format relevant to high school students. They assembled a team of clergy, adults, and teens to explore what other denominations were doing with their youth and then put together a weekend in the Episcopal tradition and called it "Happening." Since that first Happening, the movement has spread, first throughout the United States and then throughout the whole world.
A good example of how Happening has spread throughout the "wider church" began in 1981 when the Diocese of Pittsburgh expanded the reach of Happening to the Diocese of Johannesburg, South Africa. According to Gill Rookyard, a former lay director, "Happening was brought to South Africa in 1981 by the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. A team came to St. Luke's, Orchards at the invitation of the Johannesburg Diocesan Youth Advisor. [In the 1990's] the Diocese of Johannesburg split, as the area it covered was incredibly large. As a result, the folk who were involved in Happening in Johannesburg who now fell into the Highveld Diocese now ran Happening #1 in the 'new' diocese."
Recently, Highveld, South Africa has taken Happening to the Western shores of Australia (Bunbury), Pittsburgh has taken Happening to Peru, and other programs have spread to Canada, England, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic (where the program is conducted in Spanish), the Bahamas, and Honduras. The Diocese of Florida helped start Happening #1 in 2013 in the Convocation of Episcopal Churches of Europe, and the program is currently planning its 4th Happening weekend! It is incredible to watch how Happening has spread to so many locations in such a short period of time through the dedication and passion of its participants.
For a much more thorough, detailed description of how Happening began and has evolved throughout the years, check out our page on the History of Happening.
How can I find out more about Happening?
There are many people who would love to provide you with more information about the Happening movement! You can reach out to the members of the current Happening National Committee by filling out our Contact the HNC form or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, every diocesan Happening program in the Episcopal church operates under the authority of its bishop or another appropriate ecclesiastical authority. If your diocese has a Happening movement (check Participating Dioceses), you should be able to obtain more information by reaching out to your parish priest or local Episcopal church to learn who presides over your diocesan program.