I was first introduced to the Young Adult Network a little over a year ago when I attended a baseball game at Yankee Stadium. Although I’ve heard about their partner organization Episcopal Asian Supper Table (EAST), I had yet to make it to a gathering. This changed on the final Friday of Lent when EAST, together with the Young Adult Network, hosted the final Lenten Sushi Friday. This night of fellowship not only filled me spiritually, but connected me to a group of people I didn’t realize I needed.
I grew up in a predominantly white suburb in northern New Jersey, just 15 minutes away from New York City. My father used to work as a professional singer who often worked for churches, and as a child I sat in the pews of various Episcopal churches. Even though we spent time in Manhattan on weekends— mostly at Trinity Wall Street and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine— we still lived in New Jersey, and I didn’t connect with any of the young people in those parishes outside of church. In fact, Sunday School at the Cathedral played a formative part in my Christian formation, but I wasn’t able to get confirmed as classes took place on weeknights. At this point in my life, I was hungry for a deeper religious and cultural connection, and have been trying to play “catch-up” since becoming an adult.
Enter the Young Adult Network. Although I’m still learning how to be comfortable talking about religion with my peer group, I’m glad to be part of a network that provides the space and the means to do so. The final Lenten Sushi Friday, which took place on April 12, included programming organized by EAST. Following a short service, we were encouraged to explore a variety of quiet reflection spaces that included items such as sand, rocks, candles, a labyrinth, a cross where participants could post their worries, and even paper that dissolved in water. We used these to write our confessions and watch them disappear. The House of the Redeemer, which provided use of their space, is an Episcopal resource I didn’t even know existed in New York and one I plan to utilize.
Reflecting upon that evening during lent, I’m touched by how it felt to be in a room where I was part of the majority— as an Asian and a Christian. Instead of feeling like an outsider as I usually do in most spaces, I felt a warm welcoming environment. I finally felt like I belonged somewhere. At the Lenten Sushi Friday I was an Asian Young Adult Episcopalian, and ticking all the boxes made me feel right at home for the first time.
Reflection submitted by Terecille Basa-Ong, Member of the the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Congregation Saint Saviour