Tag Archives: 3genreps

URCYA: Lost and Found: People in Exile

It was with anticipation that I was preparing for last weekend, which was the latest in the URC’s (United Reformed Church) Youth Assemblies.  I last went to a youth assembly run by the URC in 2008 (so some time ago now!) back when it was known as FURY Assembly (that stands for the Fellowship of United Reformed Youth).  After visiting last time, I knew that there would be some people I had already met.

After arriving at Whitemoor Lakes (it’s starting to feel like a second home!) I met one of my friends from the last time I was at a URC event.  Having signed in and put all my stuff down in my room, I started to talk to a few of the other people who were already there.  Having spotted someone who was the URC rep to 3Generate in 2010, we caught up over tea and then I started to talk to some more people.  It turns out that quite a few there were from the Wessex Synod, which is where I live. The URC is divided into 13 “synods”, which are like our districts but bigger.   Wessex Synod covers all the way along the south coast from Portsmouth to Dorset, and as far north as Banbury in a kind of triangle-shape.  It also covers the Channel Islands.  It’s number 9 on the map.

URC Synods

On Friday evening we were welcomed and ran through the introductions.  Worship was centred around Isaiah 9:4.  The theme of the evening was the journey between being lost and being found, with the keynote speaker (Stewart Cutler) talking about how we, like the lost sheep, might “nibble [ourselves] to lost-ness”.

Are we nibbling ourselves to lost-ness?

If you’d like to have a listen to the talks given by Stewart over the weekend, you can find them here.  We went into small groups to explore the issues surrounding the bible passage more before we went to the first workshop.  For me, this was about social justice.  It was led by Andrew Bradstock, who is a member of the URC branch of JPIT, the joint public issues team.  We looked at why social justice was important and what we thought the big issues were.  We also looked at whether Christians have, or should have, a different outlook on social justice from the rest of the world. After the workshop I went to listen to a talk about vocation.  It was interesting to hear about the opportunities available in the URC, many of which were to be found in a mission house in Amsterdam.  The Covenant Prayer said in Methodist Churches every year came to mind, and I shared that with a few people.  The text is:

‘I am no longer my own but yours.
Put me to what you will,
rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing,
put me to suffering;
let me be employed for you,
or laid aside for you,
exalted for you,
or brought low for you;
let me be full,
let me be empty,
let me have all things,
let me have nothing:
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things
to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
you are mine and I am yours. So be it.
And the covenant now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.’

and you can find out more about it on the Methodist church website or by asking a minister.

 

Saturday started off at 08:00 with some worship, for which the theme was “All are welcome”.  Breakfast was followed by a few words from our keynote speaker around the theme of Elbow’s “Open arms”.  We broke up into our small groups again to discuss Psalm 27:1-9.

We moved into workshops, and this time, it was all about “What’s on your mind?”; it was a good look at the difference in perceptions between physical (usually positive thoughts) and mental (usually negative thoughts) health.  After a quick break, we had our last issue-based workshop.  I went to one entitled “God’s Backpack”, which was designed to give us some useful meditative and reflective techniques for our journey through life.  After lunch (best jacket potato I’ve had for a long time!) we had elections for the “Moderator Elect” (the equivalent of the Youth President Designate, so the one-in-waiting) where the people putting themselves forward spoke for about two minutes each on their visions for FURY.  There were other posts up for election too, and they spoke in a similar manner.  After the speeches, we had creative workshops.  Like a traditional Methodist, I went to the singing one.  It was lovely to have (at one point!) a three-part harmony going for “Oh Lord hear my prayer”.  After a very enjoyable two hours we came back together to hear about different things going on around the country before the first business session.

URCYA votes using a consensus method. This means that voting is carried out in four stages.  The first stage is for information.  The motion (which is the thing being suggested) is explained by two people.  They give some background information and answer any questions that anyone has about it.  The second stage is that of a conversation.  Sometimes questions are given, and sometimes it’s a free discussion.  After this, feedback from the smaller groups is given, and the third stage is entered.  This is the decision stage, where you’re allowed to say what you feel about the motion.  The moderator (who is in charge of the meeting) will ask whether people feel that they would like to vote.  If you agree, you raise an orange card.  If you’d like more time to talk about the issue, then you raise a blue card.  If everyone is ready, then the voting can take place.  If you agree with the motion, then you raise an orange card, and if you disagree, then you raise a blue card.  It looks a bit like this:

 

Consensus Voting in action

 

If everyone shows an orange card, then the motion has been passed by consensus.  If there are some blue cards, then the people holding them are asked if they think that they’ve had their views heard.  If they say no, then they have the opportunity to speak.  If they say yes, then they’re asked if they’ll allow the motion to be the approved as what the Assembly thinks.  If they say yes, then the motion is still passed by consensus, but if they say no, then the motion is passed by agreement instead.  This is useful for when it comes to reporting back to the rest of the Church about what’s happened.  If something is so important to young people that it’s been passed by consensus, it’s very powerful to be able to say that every young person at the Assembly thought that this was important.

 

Sessions where all this takes place are called business sessions.  We had these for the rest of the evening and then Sunday morning.  There were motions covering a range of subjects, from the continuation of a welfare team to interaction with the laws on same-sex marriage to talking about mental health and wellbeing.  It was a really good opportunity to hear about what other young Christians thought about these things.

After a heavy business session on Saturday evening, it was brilliant to be able to relax by enjoying comedy from Paul Kerensa.  He’s written for “Not Going Out” and “Miranda”, both of which I enjoy, so I hardly stopped laughing for the whole two hours!  Here’s a quick clip of some of his stand-up, just for you lovely people to also enjoy: Paul Kerensa

There’s an interview on the end of it too, which you might find interesting.

 

After a lovely sleep and more worship and business on the Sunday, we met in Synod groups.  As I said earlier (right at the beginning, if you need a recap!), I’m in Wessex Synod.  We gave our evaluations and feedbacks for the weekend, and then it was into the final worship!  Here, Matt Barkley was inaugurated as the new Moderator and welcomed by John Ellis, who is the Moderator of the URC.  Good luck for this year, Matt!

 

Follow the URC on twitter: @URC_FURY

the twitterfall from the event

and online on their website.  You can read more about the event here.

Church of England Youth Council Meeting

It’s been a fair while since I went to visit the Church of England Youth Council (CEYC) at the end of November, and I apologise for not updating you all sooner!  While we’re now three weeks (three weeks!) into 2014, I hope that you all had a very enjoyable Christmas and a happy new year.  If anyone is still keeping up with New Year Resolutions – good luck and keep going!  If anyone has (like me) failed so far at keeping them up… tomorrow is a new day!  A day or two (…or twenty…) between start dates is neither here nor there.  One of my resolutions was to write up my blogs for you within a week of the event – and as you can see, I’m a little behind!

And so, back to the topic in hand:  CEYC.  As Methodist Youth and Children, we’ve not been the Church of England event for a couple of years, so I didn’t have anyone to ask for advice or what to expect.  I was driving up early Saturday morning to Whitemoor Lakes, a centre where we’ve had 3Generate in the past, and I was a little nervous.  The event actually started on Friday evening, but as I was at another meeting I had to arrive late. 

I needn’t have worried!  As I arrived at the centre, I was introduced to Hannah Page, the CEYC Chair.  She’s a bit like our Youth President, in that she represents the youth in the Church of England and is the first point of contact.  After a whistlestop tour by one of “those born earlier” (someone over the age of 26) I met some more people who were hanging out in one of the lounges.  They were all lovely (of course!) and I was relieved to know that I wasn’t the only one who was there for the first time.  There were a few people there who had been many times before (I forget how many years), and so it was nice to have people there with some experience and corporate memory.

On the Saturday morning I was given a special welcome, which involved tiffin.  This is something that I think everyone should be welcomed with.  If you’re not sure what it is, it’s a chocolate-y, biscuit-y yummy thing.  Google it.

Tiffin.  It's amazing.

Tiffin. It’s amazing.

Anyway.  There were small group meetings throughout the weekend, looking at a range of bible passages.  It was a good way to meet people and to see what other young people thought about topics ranging from tithing (giving money to the church regularly) and marriage (along the lines of “when’s the ‘best’ time to get married?” and “at which age should marriage be allowed?”).  I found it really interesting and we got some good discussions.

The main debating sessions were mainly about changes to their constitution to allow more inclusivity, and allowing an online element of membership of the council.  There were also workshops over the day – the one I went to was all about where the “Female Bishops” debate had got to (it’s still in progress).  We shared communion in the evening, and the next morning we celebrated the start of the new church year and advent.   We also learnt how to dance the tango!

The Tango!

The Tango!

Coming away from the weekend, I’m looking forward to finding ways that we can work closer together with young people from the Anglican church.

For more information, have a look at:

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Youth Reps at Methodist Conference – Day 1

The day began with an early start to London. Luckily the train journey wasn’t too bad! After arriving we met up with the rest of the team and headed for lunch and to discuss our report for conference. We have some great feedback that we can’t wait to share at Conference in the upcoming days! After a lot of hard work we had a lovely tea and cake break with some of the staff at the Methodist Church house.

Then we headed for Central Hall, Westminster to set up the 3Generate stand. We worked very hard, despite how warm it was, and this is the result: -insert picture-The stand includes information on the Street Child World Cup and 3Generate, if you’re around don’t be afraid to say hi! (we’re not as scary as we look)

Then, after a very hot, crowded tube journey we found our accomodation. After settling in, we finally headed for food, which was lush. Due to being blessed with gorgeous weather we sat in the college gardens and finished preparing our reports.

Now, it’s time we get some sleep before a busy, hopefully interesting day ahead of us!

image

Tom at our Stand 🙂