New School Minster in Hendon launched by Capital Youth
A new Youth Minster project has been launched inside a school at St Mary’s and St John’s CE School in Hendon.
Tolu Awojobi, who previously worked with The Message Trust and Christ Church W4 Youth Minster, has been employed in a lead role to establish the Youth Minster within SMSJ School, working directly with the school’s staff team, The Message Trust and the London Diocesan Board of Schools.
Capital Youth has been the Diocese of London’s 5-year strategy 2022 to boost the number of young people engaged by our church communities in evangelism and discipleship. Youth Minsters are a key part of this program and are resourced through the Church Commissioners’ Strategic Development Fund. Their role within Capital Youth is to grow the numbers of young people who are part of our churches by reaching new young people themselves and then helping other churches to grow. As part of this plan, the Diocese of London began a final project in direct collaboration between a Church of England School in Hendon and the LDBS, in the Edmonton Episcopal Area in North London.
Starting a project like this at the back-end of a pandemic is a testament to the school and project stakeholders’ dedication to making this happen for students.
Over three years, Tolu’s role is to establish youth work within the school and link it with surrounding churches. He will lead groups in the school minster to help young people to explore their faith, work with students to establish a fresh expression of church in the school, work with the Message Trust to develop youth ministry in the local community and support the Bishop of Edmonton in developing the Edmonton Area’s prioritisation of Growing Younger.
Bishop Rob Wickham comments:
“Tolu is an inspiring young man. His presence in Hendon, working through established partnerships across churches and schools, will lead to hugely imaginative opportunities for encounters between Jesus and the young people of Barnet. God has, over the last few years, been preparing the ground for this new Youth Minster, the first to based entirely within a school. Tolu joins the team with extensive youth work experience, and is leading with courage, boldness and a deeply pastoral heart.”
Tolu initially delivered lessons within the school on race, culture and faith which were well received:
We’re very lucky to have Tolu working with us on behalf of the Church. Here he is delivering a lesson on diversity to year 7. #ProudToBe a multi faith, multi racial diverse community. pic.twitter.com/PfgZ5q4DKA
Since then he has been working directly with school staff to integrate deeply into the school’s rhythm and culture. Recently, Tolu has been leading collective worship, and creative sessions with students outside of lesson times, filming an Easter drama with students with help from a local church. There have been encouraging moments of connection and faith happening as well:
“After our Bible Study (Seeds) on Monday, five students stayed behind to have lengthy discussions with the leaders about faith and life. Not all of the students are Christians, but they all had questions and took an active interest in finding out more about faith and how it could help their questions.”
The project also has access to a double decker bus in partnership with The Message Trust, as a space for students to connect and explore faith safely on the school grounds. Additionally, the bus will be able to travel and visit other schools and local churches, helping churches connect with young people in new places.
Outside of his day job, Tolu is involved in leading JC4ME Collective – a group of creatives seeking to share the Christian faith through music and media. The group recently played a part in the Kensington Area joint event for youth, sharing songs and stories throughout the evening.
Levi is the Creative Lead at Capital Youth, an initiative run by the Diocese of London Children & Youth Support team. He volunteers in youth ministry and leads worship at Christ Church W4 in Chiswick. Levi completed a degree in Applied Theology before working in marketing and design in the corporate space, bringing both worlds together in his current role at Capital Youth.
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