Rachel Southwood - Synod Youth Representative As you may remember reading in a previous focus magazine I am part of the Synod Youth Executive. As Synod Youth Executive our mission is to recognise and affirm the importance of the voice of young people (aged 11 to 25) of the synod, we seek to develop, support and encourage them on our shared journey of discipleship and mission. I am not the only member of the Synod Youth Executive who attends St George’s. Two other members are Hannah Lee and Jess England. Whilst being on the Synod Youth Executive we get involved with making decisions and taking discussion points to Synod meetings. We are currently looking at how we can reach out to other youth within our synod. As well as being involved with synod level youth activities we all attend the URC Youth Assembly. Liam Edgeworth and his friend Josh from Adeyfield Free Church joined us this year. Below are four short paragraphs describing what we all thought of the weekend and what we got out of it.
Liam The URC Youth Assembly was a great experience for me, as it offered a lot, including worship which was great but also a chance to get to know people that I had never met before. It was good to meet new people and socialise with them, by playing games or just general conversation. The main part of the Youth Assembly that I enjoyed was being a part of the voting system that allows people to introduce new things to the church, this made me feel a part of the process which is good to get the Youth involved with the URC. The evening entertainment ranged from football to singing, but my favourite part was the production by Spotlight Drama Company, this was great to watch and made everyone laugh.
Although I didn’t know many people when I got there I soon made friends with people from different synods that I will hopefully keep in touch with and see again, hopefully next year if the opportunity is given to me. The workshops that I was involved in were very interesting as lots of people had different opinions and it was nice to listen to different people share their thoughts and take it all in, as this is something I like doing as sometimes I don’t feel like I can contribute to the conversation as I don’t really know much about it, but within the workshops I was able to learn from others just by listening to people.
Jess Youth Assembly 2016 was an amazing experience. Having attended last January, I had a whole bunch of friends to return to from last year, and we stayed up chatting and laughing until 4am on Saturday morning!
My favourite thing about the event is being in a place where everybody is Christian. We all have different opinions and backgrounds but everybody there is united by their love for Jesus, which isn’t something you get to be a part of every day.
There wasn’t as much business this year, but I attended two seminars; one on how we interpret scripture and another called “Who do you think you are?” In a Café Philosophique session we debated the question “can roots destroy foundations?” which was a very enlightening discussion, particularly once we’d decided what roots and foundations actually were! I love being a part of the wider URC Youth, and am very thankful for all of the friends I’ve made from Scotland to the Isle of Wight!
Hannah Our theme for youth assembly 2016 was roots and foundations. We looked at the different roots of our faith and how to strengthen the foundations of our faith in order to grow. We looked at this alongside conducting business and partaking in issue based and creative workshops. It was a great opportunity to form relationships with young people from the URC across England, Scotland and Wales, to engage in discussions about the issues that affect the Church and spend time with God together. The highlight of the weekend was late night communion where there was a strong sense of God's presence and where several people encountered the Holy Spirit in powerful ways. I will hold on to the memory of over 100 of us sitting in a huge circle in the dark worshipping God together for a very long time.
Rachel This was my fourth time at Youth Assembly and every year I get something different from it. This year the theme of worship and the speakers was Roots and Foundations, this enabled me to bring all of my thinking back to God and the reason we do all that we do. Youth assembly is also a great opportunity for fellowship with people I have not seen for a while. As you can see from the four paragraphs above, we all had an amazing time and got so much from it.
This Youth Assembly was slightly different to the last three I have been to as this was the start of a new challenge and adventure for me. Back in November I decided I would apply for the role of Synod Youth Representative. This was not as simple as saying I wanted the role and being given it, I had to write an anonymous pen portrait and there was then a blind vote by the other members of the Synod Youth Executive. Therefore, at youth assembly I was inducted as the Synod Youth Representative for Thames North onto the URC Youth Executive.
Now let me explain a little bit about what a Synod Youth Representative does. As the Synod Youth Representative I will continue to be part of the Synod Youth Executive and attend Synod meetings. At these meetings I will have to provide reports of what has happened since the meeting before. I will also be expected to reach out to churches who would like to find out more about the work of the youth in the Synod. I will report to and from the Synod Youth Executive and URC Youth Executive.
Above I mention the URC Youth Executive; As a committee we have various roles and tasks that we take on. Our purpose as the URC Youth Executive is to provide representation throughout the URC and to represent URC Youth outside of the URC. We are also there to carry out the work of the URC Youth Assembly. Which includes helping in the planning of Assembly level. URC youth events, carry out the work of the URC Youth Assembly passed by resolution, and ensuring any necessary work to support the URC structures is completed. As a member of the URC youth executive I have a responsibility to seek to inspire young people in pursuing their relationships with God, and their journey in the mission of the church. I hope to keep you all informed in the work of the young people within your Synod and at assembly level. To find out more information please look at the notice board in the Bell Lounge which I will keep up to date. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask.