This blog is an archive.
The current blog of the Methodist Youth President can be found at www.methodist.org.uk/youth-president-blog 

URC Youth Assembly

Ecumenical work is something I believe will become increasingly important in the lives of the Church. With numbers declining in many denominations coming together as one body of Christ could become something we do a lot more regularly. With this in mind I was delighted to receive an email a few months ago inviting myself and the 3Generate Ecumenical reps to attend the URC Youth Assembly.

Now I haven’t had much contact with my local URC so was interested to see what it was like. So I pack my bags and headed to Whitemoor Lakes (side note we use to hold 3Generate there a few years ago) upon arrival I was greeted by smiling and warm faces giving me various booklets and pieces of paper and welcoming me to the event.

Heading to my room, I got the chance to unpack and have a bit of a read (there is some really interesting opportunities and some we can definitely learn from) then Jack (one of the fabulous Ecumenical reps) arrives and we have a chat about things. Then 2 other gentlemen arrive one from Scotland and the other from London and we get talking about our faith and things like that and then head for a spot of supper.

After this we split up into synod groups (the URC’S version of Districts) where I met for the first time the Thames North District. An amazing bunch of people from a variety of backgrounds who immediately took me under their wing, and were such a lovely and helpful bunch over the weekend (decoding URC acronyms was very helpful!) Friday night was spent getting to know people, worship and talking about ecumenical work.

Saturday came around (quicker than expected as a fire alarm woke everyone up) and we started with a seminar given by Lawrence Moore (excellent speaker by the way) we split into small groups for some reflective times followed by a break.

Next was an issue-based seminar all around interfaith work particularly highlighting a far-right evangelistic church in America becoming neighbours to a mosque and the relationship that blossomed from this. This was followed by the first bit of ‘Business’ now this was basically Conference with notices of motion and standing orders flying left and right and to be honest I really enjoyed it, being able to sit and take in as young people debated with all of their knowledge, dexterity and passion was awe-inspiring.


Overall, the weekend was a fabulous experience and also an interesting one, being able to see a different take on a Youth Assembly was great and enlightening to be able to see how someone else does work similar to yourself.

“It’s a drill. No … wait … the building may actually be on fire!”

Well as the saying goes: ‘time flies when you’re having fun.’ One month in and what a month! 

It all started back in my dear home town of Stamford on September 3, a day that will forever be etched into my mind, when I was officially welcomed into my role as Youth President.

It was a great service and was really nice to see so many friends and family there (a video of my speech will be made available soon).

Then down to London for the launch of the ONE Interns programme, a really great event and my thoughts and prayers go out to them as they embark on what promises to be a wonderful year for them,

Fire?

So in my time in working in Methodist Church House (MCH) I’ve been aware of two fire alarms. The first took place when myself and Andy Jackson, the Director of Publishing and Communications, were out getting coffee and talking about running this blog and various other aspects of social media.

When we returned we were informed that there had been an alarm, which was a drill.

The second time it happened I’d come in early one morning to have a phone call with a regional co-ordinator, and the fire alarm goes off. My natural instincts make me walk in a calm manner towards a fire exit, but one of the support staff says: ‘It’s only a drill’. So I sit back down to continue with the email I was writing.

A few seconds pass and people look slightly more worried. A member of the team says again ‘it’s a drill’, then pauses for about 10 seconds then says ‘No, wait, the building may actually be on fire!’ and so I grab my jacket and proceed to the exit.

Just as I’m about to descend the stairs, the fire alarm stops. I’m sure someone must have been playing a prank with us!

What’s been happening?

I’ve now attended my first Connexional Team Meeting (a meeting of the staff of the church) which was really interesting, as it offers an insight into elements of how team works. It was really good to hear what various people are doing in the team, such as a think tank about student ministry, emergency appeals, and presentations from people visiting us from Methodist churches overseas.

At Cliff College I spent a weekend with the ONE Programme Participants. One week later, I’m back at Cliff with the 3Generate Reps.

Following a week of meetings at MCH I’m was off again to attend the Connexional Leaders’ Forum, discussing the Statistics for Mission report, with some really interesting conversations and great ideas flowing through the room.
CLF brings together the people who are Designate, current or ex-President and Vice-President, the Secretary of the Conference, strategic leaders of the Connexional Team, members of the Strategy and Resources Committee, the Stationing Committee, the Methodist Council and the District Chairs.
It meets three times a year and whilst it is not a decision-making body, it does provide the opportunity for leaders in the Methodist Church in Britain to gather together for mutual sharing, discussion and support.
Finally this month finished up with a service with the President of the Conference at Uppingham. It was nice to be in my home circuit again its turning out to be quite hard to get home.

Having been to the CLF and the Methodist Council, I wonder if change isn’t a bad thing. I am currently considering some ideas about our structure and if it’s best suited for what we all want to achieve. What are your thoughts? Please let me know.

A parting quote


“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” Barack Obama

Youth President Trip to the USA 2017

Each year the Youth President is given the opportunity by The Methodist Church to go to a country and to see the work that the Methodist church is doing out there. Now, there’s an awful lot in the news at the moment about the US, but I’m a great believer in going and seeing myself rather than hearing an account, as such on the 31st of July myself and Doug Swanney (Connexional Secretary) were privileged enough to go to the US and too see some of the work that the church is doing out there. 

We first went out to Atlanta, and we found out immediately that it’s one of the busiest airports in the world as I had to line up for the best part of an hour to get through customs. Having got a good nights kip we awoke the next morning to find a waffle maker at breakfast which immediately improved my day. We headed off to the new Global Ministries building and were given a tour, it’s a really great space they have out there. I then went to Emory University to meet with a group of young people called the Global Mission Fellow’s. These young people are going all over the world to go and work in churches for the next two years, a few are working in Ireland although none in the mainland UK (I have hopes that this much change) by coincidence at the same time as we were at Emory a group of young Methodists from the Pacific Islands were also though having their first ever Youth Conference, we joined them in a session called Opportunities for Ministry which was led by Sam Halverson who is the Associate Director of Connectional Ministries for the North Georgia United Methodist Annual Conference (Responsible mainly for Youth Ministry). 

We then went and had some talks with the heads of the Global Mission Fellows about how we as the Methodist Church in the UK could engage more with them and possibly get some young people to work with them in the future. This was a really interesting talk as I hadn’t really heard of the Global Missions Fellows before heading out, and it’s such an amazing opportunity for young people that I really want to spread the word about it throughout the connexion. I then met up with Sam again and went to supper with him and some youth workers and talked about their work in universities, which brought about some really interesting ideas about how we could do more work in universities here. We then headed off to the baseball (as I really wanted to go see a game) we saw a home run and all. 





We started day 2 meeting with Thomas Kemper who's the General Secretary of GBGM (Big boss) where we talked about the work that the GMF's have been doing and some possibly future plans for it. We then met with David Logeman (who thinks that Wales is exotic) talking about the identity of the church and having some meaningful talks about what attracts young people to church and what the church needs to do about that, this was very inspiring and when put in context with the statistics for mission report from conference this year is a conversation I hope to be having with more people this year. Next we went to the commissioning of the GMF's which was an amazing service, thoughts and prayers go out to all 45 of them as they start their 2 years. Following this we dropped in too 3 churches in the Atlanta area to talk about their mission and ministry with young people and to see their amazing spaces, we finished at Roswell Methodist Church where we spent some time talking to the young people/adults and joined in with their worship, Doug got very excited about going to chick-fil-a.

The next day we flew off to Washington DC and went to Wesley Theological seminary and met the President of the seminary and the Dean of admissions and talked about their work (and the West Wing) Having talked about the West Wing, I suggested we go to the national cathedral where both me and Doug fanboyed for an hour, casually going round reciting Bartlet's famous speech (the views were absolutely stunning) we then went to dinner with The General Secratry and the Director of communications for The General Board of Church and Society and had some very thought provoking conversations about the current state of the world and Methodism's place in it, which again is a conversation I hope to have a few times this year with various people. Doug and I then had a wander down Pennsylvania Avenue and saw the White House and also saw Marine One land.

The day started with us going to the United Methodist Building which is located in the coolest place as if you turned to your left you could see the Supreme Court and if you turned to your right you could see the Capitol building (the land was brought so they could encourage senators to support prohibition) we met with Aimee and Katie where we talked about the seminary and intern program that they work with and how we could make some connections with them. Next on the agenda was meeting Jean and Kyle from the council of bishops and went to have lunch with them in the Senate dining room, where we had the famous Senate bean soup. Next we met Giovanni Arroyo from GCORR and went to the museum of African American history which was really interesting and thought provoking, we saw various displays chronicling African American history possibly the most thought provoking was a coffin which was used at the funeral of Emmett Till, he was a 14 year old boy who was beaten, lynched and then shot because he offended a white women in a grocery store. Just the image of the coffin truly shocked me as to how a human could do that to another. Doug and I spent the evening going around various monuments around DC before heading over to Carmines for a delicious supper.

Our final couple of days was spent going round and seeing some sights like going to the Air and Space part of the Smithsonian, we also saw the Kennedy flame and Arlington cemetery and did a bit of shopping. We went to Foundry United Methodist Church (It was where Bill and Hillary Clinton went to church) and had a really good sermon there talking about anger. It raised some interesting questions about whether sometimes it’s good to be angry and how to use that anger in a good way.

In summary, it was a great experience to go to the US and have some really productive conversations. It was also quite challenging at times as they do things very differently to us in the UK, and there sense of what a connexion is, is quite different to ours, there were also times were what I think and believe was challenged as attitudes towards certain aspects of church life are very different to ours, which made me wonder as we are all followers or Christ and also of Wesley theology why we don’t agree on everything. I come away very excited about some of the opportunities that could come to fruition especially working closely with the Global Mission Fellows and hopefully having some young people from the UK apply next year and maybe having some projects for them this time next year. 

I was glad when they said unto me

The New Guard

As I said during my service of induction and welcome, my grandmother always taught me that patience is a virtue. I’ve had to wait since November of 2016 to say this.

My name is Michael Christopher Pryke, and I am the Youth President.

It has been an amazing, crazy and absolutely mad couple of weeks, but I’ve loved every single minute of it. And I suppose I want this year to be one in which I’m challenged, I want to be excited and I want to be invigorated. I’m already becoming rather knowledgeable about the British rail system having spent just shy of 7 hours on various trains a few days ago, but when you can listen to some good music, do some work and immerse yourself in a good book time rather does fly by.

I come into this role rather as a rookie when it comes to working on a Connexional level, I’ve done work in my local church, on a circuit level and also on a district level but nothing on a Connexional level so admittedly these first few weeks I’ve felt a little out of my depth but the support network that’s been provided has been absolutely wonderful and made me feel a little less nervous.

Within a few days of this going up I’ll upload my USA trip report, which was a wonderful experience that I undertook with the Connexional Secretary. One of the first meetings I really enjoyed was when 20 or so people came together and sat in a room for about 4 hours. It sounds like the start of a really bad joke but it was a meeting where we sat and decided the timetable for 3Generate this year, it was really interesting to see so many people come together to discuss this and also made me very excited for the event itself.

Nothing suits me like a suit

Well it should really be suits but I didn’t want people thinking I was playing cards in the office (we’re serious at MCH he says as he drinks hot chocolate and eats cake) my friends always say that I’m a terribly old fashioned gentlemen. But I’m a great believer in dressing according to the occasion, hence why I wore a suit to conference as its one of the most important events of the year and I believe that the Youth President should look their best when in public.

What’s next?

I’m a great fan of the West Wing (As mentioned in my USA trip report) and in it President Bartlet asks what’s next a lot of the time, well to place it into my context. I’m off to Cliff College to spend a weekend with the ONE programme participants, I’m back in the office for the week and then I’m back up to Cliff to spend the weekend with the Reps before another week of office work and then the Connexional Leaders Forum the following weekend.


So I shall leave you with the words of the title of this piece, it comes from Psalm 122. ‘Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces. For my brethren and companions' sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee. Because of the house of the Lord our God I will seek thy good.’

And Now His Watch is Ended


The Greater Fool
I’ve been sitting and staring at this on and off for about a week, just wondering where to start? How can you distil all you have seen and done in a year to a summary? The answer is you can’t. Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes of being Youth President, a year full of lows and highs. 

When I took up this role a year ago, I started off by saying I was a Geek. I think it’s fair to say that if you’ve met me this year then that became pretty clear quickly, perhaps by the random quote from a movie or comic, the Loot Crate t-shirt or the enthusiastic conversation engaged in the moment you mentioned any TV show! I let you all know that my social media posts were full of these Geeky comments and my daily complaints, in particular about trains and travel. One year later travel is still one of my major complaints, but let’s be honest here; it’s everyone’s complaint as well! 

One year ago, I said that I wanted to be “The Greater Fool”. It’s an economics theory that the price of an object is not determined by its intrinsic value, but rather by irrational beliefs and expectations. If that made absolutely no sense to you, then perhaps this might help: 

“For the rest of us to profit, we need a greater fool, someone who will buy long and sell short…The greater fool is someone with the perfect blend of self-delusion and ego to think that he can succeed where others have failed” – Sloan Sabbith (The Newsroom, S1 EP10) 

Those that knew me a year ago could probably attest to my self-delusion and ego. I’d wager a lot of you still think I’m deluded and have a large ego, but that isn’t a bad thing. Christianity, at its core, is built up by Greater Fools, and continues to be built by them. Jesus believed that the society and culture around him could be better. He wanted to change a discourse of segregation, oppression, elitism, racism. He was told that it was impossible. Yet, if it was impossible, why are we 2000 years later still trying to follow his example?

Hope in the Few
I’ve been humbled by the people I’ve met this year across the Connexion and around the country. men and women who feel convicted in their feelings that whatever they do, no matter if it is for 100 people or 4, is worth doing. I can’t understate that enough; the impact these people are having on lives of those around them is worth it. I’m not saying that from some Christian ethos, though that is a part of it, but from a far more base perspective: humanity. We are in a world that has changed in the last year. A world in which we have elected leaders not denouncing racist rhetoric, marginalising groups based on faith, race and religion, children being attacked at concerts, rising acts of aggression from countries involving nuclear weapons, fear and uncertainty about the future and more. 

Yet, we live in a world of expectant hope. A world where acts of terror are met with and outpouring of love. A world where intolerance and injustice are met with peaceful protest and unity. A world where you can find encouragement from the most unlikely of sources. A world where the strangers can share in tears over loved ones lost.  

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful and committed citizens can change the world.” -Margaret Mead 

I’ve had the privilege to meet young people who want to change the world they live in, who have the ambitions and dreams of a better world. I’ve met adults who want to continue to change the world, but also encourage and facilitate young people to do the same. These people have inspired me and challenged me to be a better man.

Kintsukuroi
In my head I’ve been thinking I should leave you all with some glint of inspirational wisdom gained from this year. Something deep and meaningful and full of philosophical reason; but I can’t really. I am a moderately attractive 23-year old Christian who is like everyone else in the world. I am a broken person in more ways than you think, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In Japan, there is a form of art called “Kintsukuroi.” It means “to repair with gold”. The artist repairs broken pottery with gold or silver, understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken. We are all broken people, but its those around us, those who inspire us, the things we read, the things we watch, the things we listen to that repair our souls. We are beautiful in our brokenness. It’s down to every human being to be the gold that repairs others souls, and repairs the world along the way.





It has been a privilege to have been your Youth President this year. My only regret is I wish I could have done more for you all. You are all wonderful and beautiful human beings, and my life is all the better for having met and known you all.
I leave you with the words of Gandalf to challenge you all:
“…so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” – Gandalf (J.R.R. Tolkien)
For the last time,
Tim

3Generate is on the Horizon


Happy Monday one and all! 3Generate is fast approaching. After months of discernment, discussion and prayer, not to mention the sheer amount of man hours, it all comes together this weekend. You may be a young person attending the event, or a parent sending their child, or a church sending a group to this weekend. Or maybe you don’t have anyone you know attending the event. Regardless, I’m sure that you would all keep 3Generate in your thoughts and prayers this week. To help with this, here is a plan for daily prayer this week, to help guide your thoughts and prayers for the event.

Tim

Monday:

In the lead up to 3Generate this weekend, we particularly remember the 8-11’s stream in our thoughts and prayers today.

We pray for the streams sessions and activities. The Speak Out session Saturday morning, which includes groups looking at Big Questions (looking at the big tricky questions), An uneven playing field (Living in a world of inequality) and being Uniquely Different (celebrating and valuing our differences and similarities) and more. The Engage session Saturday afternoon will look at themes around Living in Conflict (getting along when we don’t always agree), Valuing who I am (Looking after myself) and Transitions (making and dealing with changes) to name a few. Saturday early evening session called Respond will give chances for the young people to reflect and respond to discussions and activities they had that day.

On Sunday, the stream will participate in voting for who they think should be their Youth President from the candidates. They will also have time to produce their own Manifesto for their age stream, pulling together the issues that they feel passionately about.

We pray for the friendships that will be formed, the fellowship that will be present over this weekend and the faith of these young people is built up and they come away from this weekend wanting to be Agents of Change in our local churches.

Tuesday:

In the lead up to 3Generate this weekend, we particularly remember the 11-18’s stream in our thoughts and prayers today.

We pray for the stream sessions and activities. The ‘Go’ sessions on Saturday are split between discussion sessions and creative sessions. Both of these types of sessions will be looking at a myriad of different topics and themes, with some of topics titled Extremism, Re:think, It’s So Unfair, If I ruled the World, If I ruled the Church and more. The afternoon will be spent in worship and in Facilitated sessions. It’s time to reflect and hear about the issues that are on the hearts and minds of the young people. In the evening, the 11-18’s have the opportunity to hear from these year’s Youth President candidates and vote on them in a balloted election.

On Sunday, the 11-18’s join in worship with the 8-11’s and the 18-23’s for all age worship, titled “Meet Jesus…” before going into their “Grow” sessions for the remainder of their time at 3Generate.

We pray that every young person that comes this weekend is challenged and grows in thinking and spirit over the weekend, that connections are made between young people from different parts of our Connexion and that God be at the centre of their time this weekend.

Wednesday:

In the lead up to 3Generate this weekend, we particularly remember the 18-23’s stream in our thoughts and prayers today.

This year, the stream begins with a short series of TED talks on topics such as Community and Calling. These will be the basis for discussion and conversation throughout the morning, allowing the delegates to explore the themes of the talks with those who gave them.

The afternoon will be filled with skills based workshops on making practical change within each delegates world, be it self, peer group, church and community or even the world.

Saturday will be rounded off by a time of relaxation and laughter as the stream hosts a “Canapes, Cocktail and Candidates” evening. This will be time for the delegates to meet and have conversations with this year’s Youth President Candidates and vote on them, while having street food, mocktails and a pub quiz! At the end of the day, there will also be a late night communion, offering time of quiet and reflection while coming together as a community in communion.

After joining with the other age streams for worship on the Sunday morning, the 18-23’s will be drawing up their streams manifesto, while also having time of reflection and prayer, ending their time at 3Generate with worship with The Well stream.

We prayer and thank God for the opportunity for this age stream to come together, for the discussions and fellowship they will have during 3Generate, and that they go from 3Generate renewed and passionate to be the change in the community they want to see.

Thursday:

In the lead up to 3Generate this weekend, we particularly remember The Well stream in our thoughts and prayers today.

The Well stream offers opportunity for Children, Youth, Schools and Family workers to come together over the weekend to meet other workers, develop their ministries and have a time of spiritual development.

On the Saturday, the Well will be having a time of professional development in the morning, attending talks on topics such as Children’s Spirituality, Self-Esteem and Self Harm and We Are Family. The afternoon will be opportunity in the first half to attend workshops on Re-imagine Church and Godly Play. The later part of the afternoon will be a time of Open Space, with times of reflections and discussions with the President, Vice President and 3Generate Representatives.

Sunday gives chance for delegates to ether use the activates at PGL or go on a Prayer walk. After a time of evaluation, the stream will have a discussion and conversation session with the current Youth President about what has been happening over the weekend in the other age streams. Before leaving, the stream will be joining with the 18-23’s for a time of worship.

We pray that over this weekend, each and every delegate from the Well stream find time to reflect and grow in their ministry, to find support in a wider community of contemporises and go from the weekend refreshed and filled to do God’s work within our local communities.

Friday:

In the lead up to 3Generate this weekend, I’ve asked all week to hold each stream in your prayers each day. Today is the day, the event starts!

We pray and thank God for the incredible hard work and time that our 3Generate shapers, facilitators and volunteers have put into the programme this weekend. We pray for all those attending this weekend to ensure that all goes smoothly.

Pray for the safe travel of all those volunteers and delegates that are coming today to 3Generate from all over the UK. Pray that all apprehensions that people may have about coming to 3Generate are quashed and that each and every delegate and volunteer knows that they are in a safe, loving and supportive community.

We pray for each contributor over this weekend. Pray that their sessions go off without a hitch, that any nerves are quietened and that God speaks through them to the delegates this weekend.

We prayer for every community and church that has a delegates attending 3Generate. Pray that each delegate be a stone in a pond that causes a ripple, that the ripple be the change that spread out across the community from each and every person.

Finally, we pray that in all the discussions and sessions, events and activities, worship and times of quiet that God be present in it all.