Well one of the most amazing events of my year has come...and gone.
3Genereate 2014 came around awfully quickly and in some ways the weekend whizzed by. From setting up to packing down the dedicated team of volunteers and staff were completely amazing. I’ve said it once before, but I’m going to say it again. Without the volunteers and passionate staff this event would not be possible, so thank you to everyone who was involved.For me, the entire weekend had an amazing atmosphere. What I think best describes it is a ‘buzz’. The children and young people just have such an enthusiasm for this event that it creates a buzz that is almost contagious. And I caught the it!
A particular moment that stood out in the weekend for me was the late night Saturday worship. I think the band from Cliff College do an amazing job at creating a safe space where young people can come and encounter God. For me, this is one of things that 3Genereate is about. An image that has stayed with me since the weekend is that of 3 young people praying together. At first it was just one young person, and then a friend came over and began to pray with them and after a few minutes another young person came over and prayed too. Although it may seem quite a simply image it’s about what it represents: the desire to meet with God whilst supporting one another; that young people from across the connexion can come together and share in faith. For those of you that know me, you’ll know I love a good cry so, in true Meg fashion I found myself completely moved by this image with tears streaming down my face.I shared a part of my testimony on Friday evening but what I failed to say was about the part that 3Generate had played in my own journey. Without 3Generate I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to explore my relationship with God. Through this event I was able to meet with God where I was...well, where I am, and I think this event does the same for other children and young people. It’s a place where we can come with all that they are, all that’s gone on, all that has happened and just meet with God in our own way.
I’ve been to my fare share of 3Gen’s and am even old enough (even though I don’t look it right?) to have attend the youth assembly and even the youth conference set up. I truly believe in the work that 3Generate does. It empowers young people, giving them a voice and creates a space where children and young people can come and encounter God.
It was an absolute privilege to host this year’s event and to help in the planning for this special weekend. There’s so much more I want to say on this event, but for now........I’m off to Zimbabwe!
Look out for another instalment when I get back.
See you soon
*So I'm mixing my blog around this week, and although I spent an amazing weekend in Essex, that will feature in next weeks blogs. So watch this space for that. *
My Mum always told me that honesty is the best policy. So...taking her advice...
This week I’ve struggled slightly. Not because of anything that has happened or because of anything that someone might have done. Just because. Matter of fact. Just because. I know some people reading this will know exactly what I mean. That sometimes it’s just one of ‘those’ days.
So I’ve spent my week around some really lovely people at the Discipleship and Ministry ‘gathering’ (a group where lots of people get together and share lots of stuff basically). I’ve heard a lot of great things this week and I just want to share a few reflections/thoughts (please note there is no common theme running through each point)
1). Online dating. I know that’s not the first thing you expected to hear, but I actually learnt an awful lot about the world of online dating and how it works! (Kindly delivered to me by the Church and Community team) It really made me think about how our world is slowly, but surely moving onto the online forum and made me think about what things might look like in future years.
2). Cliff College offers a lot of cake!!! My waist line = suffering
3). People are all blessed with different gifts and talents and we all need to be given the potential to live out our God given identity and use our gifts.
4). And finally and maybe the most important one of all. I think that sometimes we see that sharing our vulnerable side to people is a sign of weakness. But, I think this should not be the case. In fact, if anything, I think sharing our vulnerability and fragility is something that takes great strength. Jesus showed us his vulnerability when he died for us on the cross. But I think that this vulnerability actually showed great strength because in doing so Jesus took away all our sins. So how immense is that? That in Jesus’ frailty and tenderness there was strength and power.
I think this is amazing.
|An amazing picture drawn by someone amazing at the Gathering sharing their God given talent :)|
When travelling around during the early hours of the morning on trains, sometimes you tend to have a bit of time to think (when I’m not sleeping). This week, as the youth president 2015/16 application comes to a close, I’ve been thinking back about why I applied for the role.
If I’m honest, it all started with that small feeling of being isolated. I’ve grown up in the Methodist church and although my mum was a Sunday school teacher, I was always given the choice to go to church. Being 1 of 3 young people in our little rural Chapel (FYI: didn’t have running water or a toilet = Problematic) and also 1 of 10 in our congregation could sometimes be a blessing but also a challenge. As well supported as we were as young people at the Chapel, it could at times feel quite isolated. Many years ago now (because I’m old) the 3 of us young people attended a national event, now known as 3Generate, but then known as MYC. This really sparked the fire in me to do more and to be more. It was amazing to feel part of something bigger! To see that I wasn’t on my own! That there were other young Christian’s; they did exist!
Then throughout the next couple of years I had some amazing overseas opportunities as well as have opportunities to get involved in all aspects of church. This again fed my desire to help others who felt they were alone or isolated.
I’m not ashamed to say it that God has changed my heart over the past couple of years and has lead me on a path a never thought possible. But sometimes he does that doesn’t he?
2 things I want to share:
1). I just want to encourage anyone thinking of applying for the youth president role. It’s an amazing opportunity and it will change you.
2). I also really want to encourage those people who feel that they are isolated, weather by location or by relationships. You are not alone. It may at times feel like you are, but God is with you, no matter how distant you feel, He’s got you.
The rural chapel that always made me hang on for the loo!!!
Prayer: I pray for everyone thinking of applying for the youth president role. Be with them Lord in this time and guide them in their choices. I also pray for those who feel isolated. Let them feel your love and spirit surrounding them so that they may know that they are not alone.
I’ve had a really amazing first week in my new role as Methodist Youth President. It’s been a week that has already challenged me, made me think, taught me things, helped me meet new people and most of all brought me a lot of fun. I’ve been doing various things this week but I just want to share with you some particular moments that have stayed with me.
On Friday I had the privilege of meeting the 8 new One Programme Participants and the 2 new interns of Swanbank Methodist. Something that really hit me about the weekend was the excitement: the excitement for these young people starting a new role and taking a next step towards their future. Now, we all know that the future can be a very exciting place; however it can also be a little uncertain and can, at times, seem a little scary. Sometimes, the future even seems too big for us to handle or too impossible to see.
For me, this theme seemed to follow my weekend. As I moved on to Bolton and Rochdale for their district youth event I found that we began to talk about stepping out of the boat. During the Sunday morning worship we heard the familiar story from Matthew of Peter stepping out of the boat and walking on water. Something that really struck me about this story was the fact that Peter believed he couldn’t do this, that he couldn’t walk on water. But, once Peter stepped out of the boat and began to walk he found he could. Jesus then comes to him and takes his hand and leads him.
The thoughts that I had with this were that sometimes when we ‘step out of the boat’, in whatever way that may be, things can sometimes seem difficult, uncertain or even impossible. But, it’s not about doing this on our own. Jesus is with us. Jesus is there to help guide us and hold our hand, just as he did with Peter. God can sometimes ask us to do things that we really don’t think are possible, but with Him all things are possible.
Prayer: Father God, help us to know that you are always with us. In all that we do and all that we are. When times seem hard and there is uncertainty ahead, let us know that you are there with your arm outstretched ready to hold our hand.
Is it really August already?!?! I just cannot believe how fast the past 12 months have gone and now, like the Youth Presidents before me, I am at a turning point in my life.
To begin with, can I offer a disclaimer: This is not a “goodbye blog”, this is just another chapter within my beautiful novel which has been steered by the best non-fiction storyteller ever- The awesome God.
I cannot even begin to tell you what an amazing year that I have had, how much I have learnt, how much I have done and been involved in. I can honestly say that although I have been challenged (in a good way) this has been one of the best years of my life so far.
Thank you to the people who have looked after me during my visits, who invited/welcomed me into their youth groups and Churches, drove me to and from the station, enabled me to hear the voice of their children and young people. A huge thanks to the Connexional, Church and Community team, my line manager and my line manager’s line manager! Thank you to you all for your prayers, emails, thoughts, words of wisdom, encouragement, listening to me, inspiring me, providing me with the opportunity to talk to children and young people, and for listening to me constantly spewing info about SCWC. Without you, my year would not have been the amazing year that it has been.
Working with the 3Generate youth representatives has been another highlight of my year. They are an inspiring group of individuals, who have enabled me to also grow within my role. The fantastic work that they are doing has been phenomenal, it has been a pleasure spending the rep weekends with them and watching them grow within their own positions. You have been awesome, for being my guide and enabling me to see things more diplomatically I thank you for.
This position has also been an interesting one as although you are able to impact the way the Church is run in years to come, there are many things/projects/committees/campaigns that many people will know about but not necessarily know that I was involved with. It has been an honour being able to create a resource on mental health and visit our brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka, to name a few of my experiences. This position has shown and taught me that it also important to be humble and accept the fact that when something is able to happen it does not have your name attached to it. At the end of the day Jesus came to serve and not to be served, he was not boastful or vain and personally that has been the hardest lesson for me to learn, but I am happy that I am beginning to embrace that reality.
This is not the end of my journey I still continue to strive to be more and more like Christ, to be in the world and not of the world and to love my neighbour as I love myself. Within this life it is a constant battle to feed yourself spiritually and make time for God on a daily basis, but the more I seek him, I love him even more and the more I want to seek him. So thanks be to God for giving me the freedom of being in a relationship with him.
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
I know that this is a bible verse that is well-known and used VERY often but it is of deep significance to me as even in the darkest points, God was my shining light. He had a plan for me when I didn’t even have a plan for myself, he showed my potential and turned my flickering candle into a ferocious flame.
I have been truly and amazingly blessed to have been in this position so I first give thanks to God and also for the children and young people who believed in my vision and in me at 3Generate 2012.
As I pass on the baton to Megan Thomas (Youth President elect) I encourage you to keep her, the youth reps, the role of the Youth President, the Church’s leaders, lay employees and the life of the Methodist Church in your prayers.
Peace, Love and Cupcakes
Throughout my year as Youth President it has been a bit of a running joke that every-time anyone sees me again I have a different hairstyle, so here are a few of the hairstyles that I had during my year:
Generally ‘Faith’ and ‘Politics’ aren’t typically used within the same sentence and yesterday gave me the opportunity to see if these terms do go hand in hand or, like oil and water don’t mix with one another.
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of joining 23 other young people courtesy of the JPIT (Joint Public issues team- Rachel Alison, Rachel Lampard, Matt Collins, Paul Morrison, Roseanna Levermore and many others behind the scenes) for a day out in Parliament. This was a free event for 16-24 year olds who considered themselves to be a member of a Methodist, United Reformed or Baptist Church and we had young people travelling into London yesterday from all different parts of the country (the furthest travelling from Newcastle to my knowledge!)
The day started with a tour around the Houses of Parliament with the first group meeting at 8:30 and the second group at 9:45 (luckily I was part of the second group!). After the tour we then had a question and answer session with six MPs: Meg Munn, Sarah Newton, Gavin Shucker, Sir Andrew Stunell, The Rev. The Baroness Richardson of Calow and The Rt Rev Graham James. The panel consisted of very influential individuals, who all possessed a Christian faith. During the discussion the panel were asked questions about the rise of foodbanks, bedroom tax, the rise of UKIP, immigration (to which one highlighted that “where you see diversity you see more inclusivity” – one of my favourite answers of the day!) and were also questioned about their faith. When asked whether they possessed a balanced between their faith and political decision? One replied saying that she considered it her calling to serve her community, another saying that they ‘do it in grace and you do it in community’ and another highlighted that there are more people in Parliament with a faith background then not. Speaking of whether their faith had changed since joining Parliament some highlight that whilst they may have a different view of the Church, their faiths have not changed but it did require them to think about issues that they had not previously thought of before. It was a really insightful discussion with a lot of well thought of questions from the young people that attended.
We then did a short walk from portcullis house to Methodist Central hall where we had lunch and a short feedback and discussion on what was heard from the panel in small groups. Following on from this we had three speakers giving a 5 minute insight into key topics of interest of the young adults that attended the event: Poverty and Welfare, Church and State and Interfaith/Multifaith relationships. This then led to a fruitful discussion in smaller groups on a topic that the group was interested in.
Yesterday was a fantastic day and I had so many engaging and inspiring discussions with the young people that attended. To see so many turn up with a passion and knowledge of Politics has provided me with the enthusiasm to learn more about politics for myself. To those who don’t think that Faith and Politics shouldn’t mix until yesterday I would have probably agreed with you but it is like what one of the MPs mentioned earlier on in the day, working in Parliament is serving your community. It is up to the individual as to how they perceive this. What I think that the Church should look more into is the Theology of power on a discipleship level. Within Churches we should be engaging with politics as it affects the world around us. Although we as Christians should be ‘in the world’ but ‘not of the world’, we should at least be aware of what is happening within the world. Faith and Politics sounds like the perfect (but challenging) combination to me.
Until next time...
Today marked day five of the Conference (for the representatives!!). It has been a very exciting and busy day, with a lot of interesting items of business that have been discussed. If you would like to find out more please do watch the video above. I apologise in advance (or if you have already watched the video, I apologise) at how tired I look in this video, but it's only because I have had a brilliant day! Enjoy :)