ABMY

On Thursday I spent the day at the Association of Black Methodist Youth conference.

The day began with 2 different, but equally brilliant speakers. Both of who spoke beautifully and relevantly to the group of young people who where there.

After lunch the young people chose an activity to do, from raft building to rounders and other activities. I had the opportunity to find out a bit more from the ABMY exec and other young people who were still around about what the ABMY does and what they want to see in the future. During the conversation the young people came out with some amazing points and ideas that I can now use to influence the direction of the work of things like Youth Assembly, Breakout and the general work of the Children and Youth team of the Methodist Church.

I had a lovely day, with some amazing young people and even got a free t-shirt!

If you want to know more about what they do, or get involved, here is their website - http://www.abmyc.org.uk/

Council of European Churches

I have had the pleasure of spending the last week in sunny Lyon, central france in order to attend the Council of European Churches!

I had not heard of it before I attended, but have been subsequently impressed by all the work they do! The main work of the conference is to influence the work of working groups and staff teams set up and funded by all the different churches that make up the council. The working groups and staff teams focus on issues like;

Current Issues
Bioethics
Charta Oecumenica
Climate Change
Education
Economic and Social Issues
Environment
European Integration
Globalisation
Intercultural Dialogue
Inter-religious Dialogue
Migrants
Minority/Majority Churches
Prayer, Worship and Spirituality
Religion in the Public Sphere
Socially Responsible Investment
Theological Education
Values, Religion, Identity
Women

During the conference itself we spent lots of time learning from each other and listening to invited speakers from all over the world. There were many hearings and workshops which enabled us to spend time as the body of Christ listening and learning from each other.

My role there was to represent the young people of the Methodist Church, and when I was talking to people about the work that I have been doing and about the Youth Participation Strategy, many people were excited about the work and latched onto our vision for a better future!

Methodist Conference

Methodist Conference this year was really interesting, here are just a few of the topics that we debated;

"Safeguarding and safer recruitment"
"Singing the faith – the Music Resources Group Report"
"Hope in God’s Future – Christian Discipleship in the context of Climate Change"
"responding to the Anglican/Methodist Covenant"


We agreed to;
Establish a working party to develop a theological statement on the nature of pastoral care in the Methodist Church

Establish a working group with the Church of England called ‘The Joint Anglican-Methodist Working party on the Ecclesiology of Emerging Expressions of Church’ (affectionately known as JAMWPEEC – basically looking at the nature of the church in relation to Fresh Expressions

Support a ‘Year of the Bible’ given that 2011 is the 400th anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible

That membership of BNP was incompatible with being a member of the Methodist Church.


I will blog more about what proposals the Youth Conference brought to Conference later on in the week as I am currently at the Conference of European Churches in Lyon with our new President!

Find out more about what happened at Conference by visiting http://methodistconference.org.uk/ and following the links

London 10K run

Do you want to join in the 10K London run on 12th July? MRDF have a few places left for anyone that wants to do it!

For more information, see http://www.thebritish10klondon.co.uk/

If you want to join in, contact me!

MYA #2

Youth Assembly is an exciting new event for 11 -23 year olds. A chance to shout about real issues that are bothering you. With a diversity of workshops and issues, there’s something for everyone to get involved with. We’ll be exploring issues through arts, drama, sports, multimedia, speakers and conversations. It’s a chance to meet new and exciting young people, a chance to worship in a modern and relevant way and learn about important things in a fun and participatory approach.

We want to;
 Offer you training and support
 Encourage you to participate
 Challenge you to explore and express the Christian faith
 Enable you to make choices and influence your world
 Help you share experiences and bring you together

The point of Youth Assembly is to help you have your voice heard in the Methodist church. We are going to do this by helping you write ‘resolutions’ (A posh paragraph which tells the church want you want them to do)

We’re going to do this at Youth Assembly in loads of different ways;
1) By asking you what you want to talk about before you come
2) Through participation games on the Friday night
3) Through ‘themed rooms’ where you can explore an issue that you want to explore
4) Through workshops
5) By having lots of informed interesting people around that you can talk to
6) Through ‘participation sports’

Some ideas of what you might want to talk about;
 Your vocation
 Self confidence
 Gun and Knife crime
 Social action
 Your faith
 Your rights
 Equality and diversity
 The Methodist church’s Youth Participation Strategy

For more information and updates, join the facebook group (Search Youth Assembly) or email us at youthassembly@methodistchurch.org.uk

Psalm Drummers

At the Methodist's Lay Workers conference we were treated to an evening with the Psalm Drummers

Big booming drums, Cow bells, Tamborims, agogo bells and more were awaiting us laid out on the floor . . .


For two hours, we learnt the rhythms of samba and played away.


The smiles and joy of all involved was a beautiful sight to see, combined with the power of 100 drums; It was incredibly powerful.

If you get a chance to have a go, do it!
(A picture of me with David the Vice President of the Methodist Conference on the left, and Stephen the President of the Methodist Conference on the right)

Breathe


Breathe is a truly interactive experience where you are given an ipod with tracks on to listen to and experience whilst you perform certain tasks around a room.

My faves were;

Build your own town with blocks:
'Church' = Jesus preached here, and got angry!
'Pub' = Jesus was accused of being a drunkard by the authorities!
'My house' = Jesus went to Zacheus' house, why not yours?
Where would Jesus live in your town?
(I put Jesus in the middle of my town!)

Putting blocks in a scale to represent your carbon foot print - I did really well until it came to the traveling!!

I love creative prayer and I found it really accessible, participative and relevant. It is designed for young people in particular, but I think that anyone who is open to new experiences would enjoy it!

Hexham Circuit Youth Service

Last sunday I visited Hexham, Newcastle. A group of young people from all over the Newcastle & Durham district got together to plan and deliver an all-age service to raise awareness of the Youth Participation Strategy and Methodist Youth Assembly.

The theme for this year's Assembly (Previously Youth Conference) is ;

Why I?
Go do something beautiful!

So that is what the service was based around. I spoke a little about who I am, and what I do, and about what the Youth Participation Strategy is.

As part of the service, the congregation were asked to write their talents & gifts on a piece of paper and add it to a larger murial which will be taken round the district, to end up at Assembly.



It was a very sucessful and inspiring service!

The group will continue to do services around the circuits in Newcastle & Durham, so if you are up in that area, look out for them!

Methodist Council

I wasnt sure what to expect when I turned up, however I was pleasently surprised by the diversity of people who were there!

The most entertaining thing about the weekend was the fact that the fire alarm went of twice during the night, with the result that at 1.30 in the morning, the entirety of Methodist Council was stood in the small chapel, with Martyn Atkins reading out each persons name for them to reply 'here!'. Also, it was noted, that most of the men arrived fully dressed . . . shirts, suit jackets and trousers, proably socks and the essential tie too!

Business is done in the same way that conference is; with the addition of small conversation groups.

"In a ground-breaking new initiative, the Council approved the appointment of three Companions to work with particular international partner churches. The Companions are the first to be appointed in a pilot scheme that will seek to strengthen the Church in its relationships with partner churches around the world.

The Council also pledged support for the Stamp Out Poverty campaign. Stamp Out Poverty is a network of organisations including Christian Aid and Oxfam which campaigns for additional sources of finance to help bring the world’s poorest people out of poverty.

Children’s charity Action for Children featured on the agenda, with Council members approving a strategy for closer working between Action for Children and the Methodist Church on international issues.

As a practical expression of the Church’s commitment to ecumenical working, the Council also pledged to invite a representative from the United Reformed Church’s Mission Council to attend future meetings as a participative observer. A representative from the Methodist Council will also attend Mission Council meetings and the two bodies will explore the possibility of a joint meeting to be held in 2010.
Other topics discussed at the Council included the Church’s engagement with the media, the need to support local churches in fostering discipleship and the Church’s pension schemes for ministers and lay employees."

Read more here.

God in 140 characters

“What does the word “God” mean to you?" (My thanks to the Rev. Bosco Peters)

  • God is the only one who loves me with no strings attached for all of my worthlessness
  • what does the word God mean to me? He is my “Everything”
  • Father, Saviour, love, purpose, love, power, love, mercy, love, regeneration, love, adventure, love, authority, love, compassion
  • God is the source and ground of all that is; in all and beyond all;truth;love;without beginning or end
  • God is the creator of all that is, and the sure and loving guide of its development
  • God is love; God is; God is being.
  • To me God means conscience - thinking before you act and feeling guilty if you get it wrong.
  • God is the Present Moment. All in All. God is Good. God is.
  • God is a deity in theistic and deistic religions, representing the sole deity in monotheism or a principal deity in polytheism…
  • One, Transcendent, unknowable, yet closer to me than my own life
  • Grace, Omnipresence, Divine
  • “in him whom we live and move and have our being.”
  • The Centre of my being and the Being at every Centre
  • 1 word……. GOD = LOVE

Gainsbrough

When I was invited to attend the Lincolin & Grimsby district Youth weekend, I'll admit that I was a little nervous because I havent been involved with a youth group for a while.

It was a really entertaining weekend in all; we visited the rectory in Epsom where John Wesley grew up, went on a brilliant ghost walk & burnt a minature version of the orginal rectory (To celebrate the burning of the orgional rectory where John was rescued from the flames - 'a brand plucked from the burning').

We spent some time in the nearby youth facility & created mocktails among other things.

The Sunday morning worship was brilliant with a youth band and Martyn Atkins preaching.

My fears were eased towards the end when I was accepted by the group and a declared a 'double giant sized star bar' - Im assure its a compliment!

My thanks to the organisers & youth groups who attended.

Holiness and Risk








Holiness and Risk was a conference last weekend that around 200 people attended. People like Chairs of district, Superintendents, District Evangelism Enablers and various different people from all over the connexion turned up, not sure what to expect.

The concept of the event was to inspire and challenge those people who are 'agents of change', to actually make change happen! There were keynote speakers, workshops and small groups, which enabled us to talk through our big visionary ideas and learn from each other.
As to be expected, some people found this more useful than others, but my experience was definitely a positive one.

I was very lucky in that my small group was fairly diverse. We had myself (One of 5under 25s and the only female in my group, I was definitely a minority!) a minister/District evangelism enabler from Bolton, a male deacon, the mission secretary for the German united Methodist church, a minister from Newcastle and a superintendent who was very animated and had loads of big ideas.

I found that the weekend helped me air my vision and ideas around the Youth Participation Strategy and test them out a little bit, as well as allowing me meet and chat to people who wanted to know more about the work I'm doing.

I found it quite frustrating that there was very little spoken about Youth Participation in the Methodist church and how that will bring change; When I think about the future of the Methodist church, I see something bright and new and beautiful where true participation is taking place. A place where all can participate equally through all layers of the church.

The conference as a whole was set up to allow everybody to participate equally, however that's only if you enjoy listening to people speaking and then talking about it. I was disappointed that there was no opportunity to be creative in thinking about the vision and future of the Methodist church, because I think that it could have brought a different slant to the conference. It also meant that many people there were exhausted from thinking all day.

Looking round to see so many ordained persons present at the conference was both a good and bad thing; Considering that Methodism is a lay-movement there were very few un-ordained people there. I think that there are many people sat in our congregations who are bursting with great ideas, but never really get the chance to air them. A few more of those key people would have changed the air that weekend.

See some of the pictures at; http://www.methodist.org.uk/static/holinessandrisk/holinessandriskpicasaalbum.htm

Street Pastoring in Newcastle


































While in Newcastle, the President (picture above, centre in black), Vice president (2nd picture from bottom on left) and I went out on the streets in help those people who needed help. On the night, it was fairly quiet so we didn't do a whole lot of work (Although, I helped a girl fix her tutu . . . !) but it was still an incredible experience, to see what its like to be a servant to everyone, no matter what.
Being able to walk the streets (In my 'street pastor's beanie!) and be a servant to those that needed help, to chat and offer support to the homeless and be a living witness of the love of God to those that have it, was a privilege for me.
The scheme has made a huge local impact, from supportive relationships with the police and security bouncers to enabling young people to ask questions about God and receive support from the pastors.
If you live in or around Newcastle and want to get involved with the project, get in contact with them because they are looking for volunteers!

District Youth Enablers Training Weekend



















A picture that was put up by the scouts, but we felt should really apply to us too!


On the 23rd Jan at Felden Lodge, there was a joint meeting of the new connexional DYEs and the Youth Participation Strategy Reference group.

The purpose of the meeting for the DYEs was for them to attend a training session led by Meg Prowting of the Childrens and Youth Team. The training consisted of good communication practice, basic Methodist knowledge, presentation skills and understanding the role of a connexional DYE.

The Youth Participation Strategy Reference group consisted of 4 people under 25 (Not including myself) and 5 people over 25. They discussed issues and concerns that affected the YPS and the direction of it.

Both meetings went very well and was combined with a 20 minute joint worship.

Newcastle part 2

We went to see Action Station in South Sheilds, and they took us on a tour round the building which consisted of a credit union and debt counselling service, a drop in cafe, a workers education association, a detached Youth worker, courses for local people in computing and various skills and a charity to support people with cancer.
It was wonderful to see so many christ inspired projects under one roof! I had a lovely chat with one of the ministers there about the Youth Participation Strategy and a converstaion with an anglican vicar about how we have set a fantastic standard, and they really ought to follow!

We then went to Morpeth to meet some of the flood victims. Hearing the stories of their last year was really informative for me. (Plus the chocolate caramel slices were lovely!)

Newcastle part 1

On the 15th of January, I got on a train to Newcastle! The idea of the trip was to shadow the President and Vice-President Stephen and David, to see how they 'did the president thing' to learn from them.

I arrived in Newcastle, was picked up by my friend Fiona, taken to her house for tea, and then we went shopping!

The next day was very busy;

We started out at the main methodist church in Newcastle - Brunswick. Where we saw a presention about 'Scarpa' http://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/all_about_us/how_we_do_it/commissioning_our_services/what/find_services/pro_SCARPA/SCARPA_2225.html

SCARPA has been established to provide an intensive support service for young people who are experiencing, or are at risk of, running away, sexual exploitation or trafficking.

Also there were representives from a charity who help women sex workers in Newcastle and a charity who help refugees and immigrants who arrive in Newcastle.

Then we went to visit the Traidcraft office in Gateshead, which was brilliant! I've been pratically brought up on traidcraft, thanks to my Granny, and to be invited into the office and be shown round the warehouse was amazing. We also stopped to chat to the ladies who work on the non-food trading. They were showing us about the work they were doing with Monsoon to get fairly traded christmas decorations into their shops!








Next we visited a project called 'Aquilla Way' which was a charity that aims to 'see people and communities restored.' They run several projects including;

58:12 - providing homes for previously homeless people.

Naomi - providing 24 hour support for homeless young women

Elizabeth House - providing 24 hour support for homeless young women and their children

Karis - providing support to young men, women & children who are affected by drug abuse.

The chief executive is a woman called Jo Grant. Watching explain the work of Aquilla way and the clear passion and vision that inspired her to create and support all these projects truly inspired me. Infact, the whole thing really inspired me! It was crystal clear that it was totally focused on the will of God and helping those who needed them most.

http://www.aquilaway.org/

The post Christmas update!

22 Dec - I attended a meeting in Wolverhampton which employed their first District Youth Enabler. (Small print = This DYE is not technically part of the Youth Participation Strategy because we are still in the process of employing people to support the DYEs)
We had four great candidates, and the successful one I'm sure will be very successful in her work to come!
If you would like to get in contact with the Shrewsbury & Wolverhampton DYE, please email me and I will happily pass you on!

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My first christmas with my husband was really quiet. Due to the nature of this appointment and the situation with job losses, i have found it necessary to continue working for my local care home over the holidays. This meant that I worked christmas eve day, christmas eve overnight, christmas day, boxing day etc . ..

However, what little time I did have at home, I spent with my husband which was lovely.

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4 Jan - My husband was preaching at St. Andrews church in Slough, at the afternoon Urdu congregation. It was definitely an experience for me because I didnt understand what was being said, or what I was trying to sing. (trying very hard!) The 'tea and coffee' afterwards was lovely. It was in a small room at the back of the church which was promptly filled with all ages of people. From the very little cute children to the elderly, all of who wanted to talk to everybody! The biscuits were no ordinary biscuits, but gorgeous fudge like confectionery (Which I made my husband buy me some to take home!). It was a proper community in that room, and even when we went back a week later, they were just as pleased to see us!

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5 Jan - New Years Service in westminster methodist hall

I took my husband (Bobby) along for this one! It consisted of a collection of people from around the connexion - so people from Methodist Church House, from the Manchester base etc. The first part was a social meal, where the idea was to wander around, chatting to various people to create networks and establish contacts etc. Im afraid that Bobby was doing this far better than I was!
The meal was very posh and dainty . . . the sort of thing you would expect! With prawns on sticks and canapes etc. They even had these funny plastic glass holders which clipped onto your plate, which was quite a novelty for me!

The service was lovely, very full as more and more people turned up. I was asked to read a prayer in the service which was nice. It wasnt particularly challenging, or different, it was in essence a service just to be together and say 'we are methodist'. I enjoyed Davids sermon (Vice president of Conference) as it was quite funny and very relevant.

Over all, it was a lovely day, and I got to catch up with a few people i hadn't seen for quite a while!

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6-7 - The Connexional Leadership Forum

When I arrived, I asked several people what the purpose of this event was, and they all said that it was primarily a meeting where they (Chairs of district and all the really important people) could all meet and discuss relevant issues. Its not a decision making body, but a discussion and networking forum.

Good points - I got to put faces to names, I could talk face to face with people and they could ask me questions that they actually wanted to ask! (Which also gained me an invite to the Shetlands, which I am very excited about!)

bad points - I truthfully had no idea what they were talking about in the business. I didnt expect to understand a whole lot because in reality these are senior people in the church who have spent decades learning what they now know! However, as i talked about this and explored it, a fair few commented that they actually felt the same way!

I aim to write some kind of report on how a young person can actually engage with a forum of this type, because I certainly felt like I couldnt.

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9 - 10

This was a very exciting weekend as we began a process to employ our first round of DYEs!

The role of these initial District Youth Enablers will differ from appointments that will be made after 31st August 2009. It will focus less on local responsibilities and projects. Key projects are expected to include assisting with:

- Selection process for the Regional Participation Workers
- Selection processes for future District Youth Enablers
- Researching and developing networks within Districts and Regions
- Planning Youth Assembly 2009
- Planning Breakout 2010
- Development of the Children and Youth Team of the Methodist Church
- Presentations to Methodist Conference

Eight very talented, passionate young people turned up and proved themselves to be worthy of such a great and important task, so we employed all of them.

Some are very new to the methodist church, some are seasoned to it, some are loud, some are quiet. Some creative, others logical . . . We have a new, very diverse team and we expect great things from them!

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11 Jan

My husband, Bobby, is applying for the ministry in 2010, so we have started the process of doing everything he needs to do before he candidates.
This meant that I found myself in a Jehovas Witness congregation in Calver, Derbyshire on sunday morning. I must say, I was full of misconceptions when I arrived, and full of praise when I left.

It was very similar to a traditional protestant set up with very little decoration, simply a board that hung at the front with a verse from Acts. The service was basically a sermon, a few hymns (Which all reminded me of lullabys) and then an hours bible study. They worked through a book called the 'watch tower' which seemed very simple to me. There was no theology or deeper meaning, or encouragement to think creatively or individually. It reminded me of a GCSE english lesson where you all read the text, then answer questions on the text. However, I loved the fact that Bible study, in any form, was part of the service! I think that's something many ministers could learn from.

At the end of the service, everyone wanted to know who were were, why we were here etc. Also, the giving of resources was a pleasure for them. Even though they knew we werent Jehovas Witnesses, and were never going to be, they gave us a copy of EVERYTHING they used, from the watch tower to their Bible. That's also something we can learn from!

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14 Jan

The Children and Youth team away day.

We all went to a Quaker center in Birmingham which was gorgeous. After lunch we all went down to the massive pond, which was frozen, to skim rocks over the ice (Which makes a fantastic sound!).

The purpose of the meeting was to get to know each other (Because I and two others were new to the team) and discuss important pieces of work that we needed to.

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Sorry for such a long post!

Please feel free to ask me any questions you want!