Craig Gaffney- Who am I?

Introduction Blog-Who am I?

Wow, It seems so long ago now that I was elected Methodist Youth President at 3Generate 2014. Here I am now, sat in Methodist Church house, a week into the new job, writing my first blog. What a journey it has been and what an amazing journey it will continue to be. God has remained consistent and faithful through it all. I pray now that he would use me, that this role would be done in his strength and not mine, all for his glory.

I thought I would take this initial opportunity to introduce myself and give you some background information on your current Youth President. I was adopted at a very young age by a wonderful couple: Jane and Steve. My mum who is now a Methodist minister instilled Christian values in me and dragged (literally on some occasions) me to church on a regular basis.  At the age of 10 I rebelled against this forced commitment to the Church and I refused to go. The only connection I had with Church was a youth club in Oadby, Leicestershire who ran summer camps once a year. At the age of 12 I gave my life to God and my life was changed; for all of about a week. Routines and old habits crept back in and life went back to normal.  My faith and commitment to God vanished until the following years summer camp when I once again reaffirmed my commitment to Christ. This became a continuous cycle until I began my GCSE’s and I openly professed my faith to my friends. My faith became real, a daily relationship with God. This doesn’t mean that I stopped making mistakes, or that I was the perfect Christian- I definitely wasn’t! But I understood the love of God. The opportunity arose to do work experience during year 10 and I spent an amazing week working alongside St. Phillips Centre in Leicester who work developing inter-faith relations. This helped me grow in the knowledge of my faith and the acceptance of those around me. Later that year I went to Sweden with St. Phillips Centre, helping to begin an inter-faith programme in Gothenburg.

After GCSE’s we moved house, Mum had been ordained and her first appointment was 40 minutes away in Rugby. The busy town seemed a long way away from the quiet fields of Kibworth in rural Leicestershire. It was a hard time for us all, but God was at work. I began my A-levels at Lawrence Sheriff School, joined a rugby club and started a church. For the first time in ages I was regularly attending Church and enjoying it! I even started going twice a day! It was during this time that my faith matured, I began to grow and God began to reveal more of himself to me. Following the completion of my A-levels and after feeling God tell me no to go to university at Soul Survivor 2 summers previous, I planned to do what I always felt called to: work with young people. I had been doing voluntary youth work for just over two years by this point and I loved it, I felt God call me to go and bring ‘Hope to the hopeless’ in line with my passion for social justice and young people. What better place to do that than in Sierra Leone-West Africa. Six months later I was a changed man, I had seen so much. Volunteering in the slums outside Freetown led into Orphanage work in Panaji in India, throughout every new experience God revealed more of himself to me.

Prior to my work abroad I was part of the interviewing panel for a One Programme Participant in my local Methodist Church- during this process a member of the connexional team came to facilitate the interview, she told me about the programme, the Rep roles and the Youth President. It was from this moment- almost 2 years before I applied that God showed me the plan. I prayed into it, my mum prayed into it and we both felt God point towards the youth president role as where he wants me. Come November 2014, after lots of stress, panic and arguing with God, I was elected Youth President 2015/16. Since that time I have worked as a youth/schools worker, gone on trial as a local preacher, lead worship, done a social justice project with Tearfund and worked in a primary school. All this, I hope, will have prepared me for what lies ahead in this coming year. Above all I learnt- God is loving, faithful and has it all in control!

It would be my pleasure as Youth President to come and visit any events you have got going on in your local area. Please send me any invites to and we’ll see if we can fit them into my diary. (it’s filling up fast!)

For now, this is Craig, signing out!


Dream Big, but Engage Bigger...

I started off the year so well with my  blog but as things seem to have progressed and things pop up my blog seems to fall by the waste. Sorry for that.

Blogging is not a great gift of mine, I think party due to my dyslexia but also because I'm worried I don't have anything interesting enough to say! I wonder if you guys have ever felt that? That you just don't have anything good to say? 

I'm not sure if what Im about to say is any good really, but I'm still going to say it.

On Tuesday I visited Rydal Penros School in North Wales, Colwyn Bay. This is a Methodist independent school, and it was really cool to go and be a part of their day. I led an assembly about dreaming for a better world and how we can use our gifts and talents to bring about change. This then led on nicely to helping year 5's write some very inspiring new lyrics to uptown funk around helping the world. But the part of visit that really struck me was about how engaged and aware the children were around the general election. When asked questions around who were the main parties? When was the general election taking place? Who formed the previous government? A lot of hands shot up. I found this really interesting and actually rather inspiring that our children and young people are so aware of the environment around them.

With the general election coming up this week, I just want to encourage and remind people to get up and vote and go engage with what is happening in our country. We can all dream for a better world but sometimes we need to get up and do something about it.

I'm supporting The Inspirational Women's Campaign because....

The verb inspire means to motivate, encourage and enthuse. So when I was asked about a woman that had inspired me I had no doubt in my mind who it was I was going to speak about. This woman has an amazing personality, a generous heart, ceaseless love, endless amounts of positivity and a lot of gumption. This woman is my mum.

My mum, like all the others across the world, is one of a kind. Yes we still have our little squabbles and yes we still have our disagreements but at the end of the day, she is the person who encourages me, motivates me and enthuses me to go out and be all things that I want to be. My mum once told me to “just be yourself, don’t worry about what everyone else is doing” at the time this seemed really odd to me, because how could I be anyone else? I was Megan, wasn’t I? But whilst growing up this was one of the most important pieces of advice that I could ever have. Whatever situation I am in, wherever I am, whoever I am with I always remember to just be myself and that’s down to my mum.

My mum also inspires me to be all the things that I didn’t think I could be, to do all the things I didn’t think I could do and to go to all the places I didn’t think I could go. Even when I don’t believe in myself it’s my mum who’s standing right behind me cheering me on. My mum has made me the person I am today, so Cheers Mum you’ve done alright. 

WELCOME 2015: A Youth Rep Post

Welcome to 2015

So this week Bx Belshaw, one of our Methodist Council Reps, has something to say....
Hi everyone,

Welcome to 2015, all of us on the team hope you have had a good New Year.
The emails have started to fly backwards and forwards between the team as we prepare to meet for the first rep meeting of 2015 at Cliff College in 2 weeks time.
We’ve already started to look at the 3Gen report to Conference in a separate day at the end of 2014. A brilliant time at looking at some of the responses you wished to make in your own communities but also challenge the wider church to take on board. This coming rep weekend I’m sure will touch in this too.

After the Rep Weekend, Andrew, Meg and myself (Bx) Will be heading down to Methodist Council, so we are all hoping the reading comes out very soon! Watch out as we tweet and instagram pictures of this… particularly as we look for the greatest carpet/flooring of the 24 hours.

What else to look forward too? Well ask your local churches, ministers and youth leaders if your area has got a big sleepover coming up and how you can get involved.
On top of all this looking forward 3Gen2015 seems like a long way a way :( so why not check out highlights of 3Gen2014 by re-looking at the TV channel You could introduce some of the topics into your youth group and send us your views, or just grab a bowl of popcorn and watch the 2015 promo video
Keep in touch

Bx (Council Rep)

Make The Time for Christmas

It's that time of year. Yes, it has come round rather fast. Christmas has this way of sneaking up on you and before you know it the days here! The CHRISTMAS has arrived!  So in true festive spirit I’ve written a...’poem’ if that’s the best way to describe it about the hectic, busy holiday that is Christmas.

Crums it’s here, it came round so fast!

How did this happen, it couldn’t be long since we celebrated it last.

Right, get the decorations, all hands on deck

In goes the turkey, brussel sprouts, Christmas pudding, check.

Santa seems to have been and delivered lots of gifts

Too bad I’ve eaten so much and can’t seem to shift.

My goodness is that the time, where has the day gone

After all that preparation it wasn’t even that long.

So once again the time has passed us by, one year Christmas might stop and actually say hi.

So, as I hope you can tell, this poem was written with quite a comedic stance on how chaotic Christmas can be. But actually I want to use this comedic poem to make a rather serious point.
Remember to stop and enjoy this Christmas. It is a time that we are suppose to celebrate, have fun and be merry. So this year, here is a challenge, try not to get stressed out about Christmas, just enjoy and have fun and don’t let the festive season pass you by.
Merry Christmas and God Bless

Heat. Happiness and Heaps of Hospitality

It was hot. And I mean not just hot....but HOT! The sort of heat that makes you really hot. Did I was hot?

If you haven’t guessed by now, in good British fashion, I’m talking about the weather and clearly not the British weather. I’m talking about the sweltering heat of Zimbabwe.

For those of you who think that it’s been quiet around here for a few weeks, it has. I’ve been away. For the past 2 weeks I have been overseas in Zimbabwe, meeting and hearing about the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe and sharing stories, ideas and thoughts between our two Methodist Churches and experiencing Zimbabwean life.  

One of the first questions I was asked when we got out there was “What did you expect?” and honestly, I didn’t really know, I had no answer. What do you expect from a country that you know little about? From a climate that is really alien to you? and from people who you had never met? I wouldn’t like to say I had no expectations, but I didn’t really have a clue what I was going into and actually that was the best way! It meant I had a really amazing surprise.

Five interesting things I learnt about Zimbabwe:

1). You can get scorpions in Zimbabwe. How do I know this? We had one in our room.

2). The best thing you can invest in on a trip to Zimbabwe is bug replant.

3). If you’re eating something that is a mixture between chicken and fish, it’s probably crocodile.

4). The sun set in Africa is one of the most beautiful things you will ever see.

5). The hospitality of people will leave you amazed. 

I was completely overwhelmed by the endless hospitality and generosity of our hosts. We were hosted by The Methodist Church in Zimbabwe Youth Department for the 12 days of our trip. They did such a good job! Although the trip was quite full on in regards to its travel and meetings, I actually wouldn’t have wanted it any other way as this enabled us to meet a huge variety of people and experience so many different things that I wouldn’t have wanted to miss.

For the first few days of our trip we stayed at the Matthew Ruskie Children’s home just outside of Harrare. We were welcomed here as family and nothing was too much of an effort for them. The children’s home is an amazing place that is run by the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe and provides residential care facilities for orphaned and vulnerable children. Whilst we were staying with them, the home faced an additional challenge with electric and running water being out of use. Whilst we were there we told that this was a regular occurrence and sometimes they could go months without power or running water. Yet, through all of this they carry on and meet each day with a smile and grace. This is something that continued to confront me throughout the trip, people’s happiness and grace. It was everywhere!

Throughout our stay in Zimbabwe we managed to travel what felt like the length and breadth of the country, sometimes spending up to 11 hours on a mini bus to try and reach the next group of people we were meeting. As I said at the beginning we met a variety of different people, from young adult groups, to the youth council, to Bishops, to Minsters, to the Boys Christian Union, Girls Christian Union, Sunday schools, rural churches, Methodist Young Disciples, the Connexional Youth President, the pupils of a Methodist school, the Connexional Youth Co-ordinator and many many more. All of these people and groups made us feel so welcome and I can’t thank them enough for their hospitality and friendship. I felt we learnt so much from them and can only hope we were able to return the favour.

Wherever we were we asked to address these various groups, telling them about ourselves and about Methodism in Great Britain. Whilst most of the time improvising what to say, I found myself repeating something which sort of just came out. I said that we are brothers and sisters in Christ. It doesn’t matter if we are in the Great Britain, in Zimbabwe or somewhere else in the world, we are all joined together in Christ and are one body. We are all disciples and are here to support and help one another in our journeys. Although this was something that seemed to come out of my mouth on a bit of a whim, I really felt this in Zimbabwe! I felt that I was a long lost sister who had come home. I felt the fellowship of Christians and specifically I felt the fellowship of Methodists.

I don’t want to mislead you in the sense that it was all work and no ‘play’, that is certainly not the case. We did have some time to explore a bit more of Zimbabwe with visits to a Game Park and an amazing trip to the stunning Victoria Falls. All of this was such a blessing but actually I found that some of my highlights were the parts where we were able to share with people and experience that fellowship.
All in all the entire trip was just amazing. A challenge at times, but that’s what made it even more amazing.  One thing I’d love to encourage people to think about in response to this is about how we welcome people? How we create fellowship? How we share with one another? How we relate to one another as Christians? We are brothers and sisters in Christ and are here to support and help one another on our faith journey. “So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (Romans 12:5)


The link below is a sign post to some work already done by the Discipleship Development Group in this area of hospitality and includes a range of resources to help churches think about how they welcome others, including a course entitled ‘First Impressions Count’

3Generate generates a BUZZ

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