Youth Ministry in Communion: gathering young people in traditional churches
Jacob Holme shares the success of a pre-launch event for a new and exciting project: Youth Ministry in Communion.
On Sunday 4 July, 62 young people from 9 parishes united for an event at All Saints Fulham as the pre-cursor to a new joint parish initiative: Youth Ministry in Communion (YMIC). After two months of planning, lots of Zooms and prayer for good weather, the event was fully booked!
The opportunity: collaboration in traditional contexts
There is no escaping the sad reality that in recent decades, there has been an exodus of young people leaving the church, with mission statistics stooping to an all-time low. In traditional churches this can be even more acute, as those who do not appear innovative are often considered obsolete for working with young people and get left behind.
As someone originally from an evangelical background, I admit that I once thought this way (no judgement please!). But three years ago, during my degree with St Mellitus, my youth work placement began at St Andrew’s Fulham; a liberal-catholic church. To begin with, I was confused but intrigued by all the traditions and actions (which all have important meaning and young people really do love some of them too). To cut a long story short, my understanding and outlook have changed: traditional parishes can become thriving centres for youth ministry.
When considering the vision for our youth work at St Andrew’s, we recognised the value of teamwork and consequently approached several other parishes of a similar tradition with the idea of partnering in ministry to young people. Some of these parishes had established youth work, whilst others had little or no provision. Some had passionate volunteers, whilst others relied solely on the clergy. YMIC is the product of months of discussions, discernment, and planning.
The project seeks to:
Provide high-quality bi-monthly youth events that are rooted in the eucharistic tradition,
Support and resource local churches, volunteers and leaders,
Offer an inclusive space for those working with young people to provide peer support and share resources & ideas,
Organise an annual residential which allows for discipleship and faith development in the context of current issues and social justice.
The event: as it happened
A mass gathering of young people descended upon the hall and gardens of All Saint Fulham, where an inflatable bungee run, sumo suits, badminton, games, craft, popcorn, candy floss and a BBQ supper were waiting. It was so much fun. I guess I’d also better confess that I wrestled the vicar of St Clement and St James, Notting Dale, Revd Gareth Wardell (who was an incredibly good sport!).
However, as alluded to above, the project isn’t focused on fun outside of the context of faith, but rather in the context of faith. So, after an hour and a half of fun and games, we transitioned into the peace and tranquility of the vicarage garden to celebrate Holy Communion, hear a word of encouragement and pray together.
We were brilliantly led by Revd George Meyrick, curate at All Saints and were privileged to be part of his second celebration of Holy Communion since being priested two weeks earlier. As well as communion, Revd Sam Rylands, curate at St Luke’s and Christ Church Chelsea encouraged us to trust in God (and not in his dart skills!). It drizzled slightly during the service but soon stopped. Though, the light rain does mean we probably are one of few places to combine the receiving of communion with umbrella holding!
The plan: what’s next
Hopefully, the launch of the project in September which will see at least 9 parishes partnering up, with other churches getting involved too. We are incredibly grateful to the support so far of All Saints Fulham, St Luke’s and Christ Church Chelsea, St Michael & St George White City, St Clement and St James’ Notting Dale, Holland Park Benefice, St Etheldreda’s Fulham, St Mary the Boltons, St John’s Walham Green, St Mary Abbots, St Phillip’s Earls Court Road and Holy Innocents Hammersmith. I’d also like to further extend appreciation to the team at All Saints Fulham for hosting us as a venue and helping us to prepare for the event in such a fantastic way, and especially to Revd Penny Seabrook for providing 80 of us with access to her garden!
Levi is the Creative Lead for Growing Younger, a priority of the 2030 Vision for churches in the Diocese of London. Levi is part of the Children & Youth Support team, volunteers in youth ministry and leads worship at his local church. 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.
Levi Phillips from the Growing Younger team took a few minutes to chat with Samuel Taylor about the story behind Youth East and its first conference for young people in East London, coming up in March.
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