“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,


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.

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,