Five of us from the Synod headed to Youth Assembly 2024 from 24-26 January – two young people from TLC Youth in Edinburgh, Matt Baines the Youth Ministry Development Worker, Alex Peden, supporting one of the young people and Lindsey Sanderson who was representing the Synod Moderators. We were able to travel together from Carlisle which allowed plenty of time to share what we were looking forward to about the weekend.
The weekend was a mix of keynote presentations, workshops, worship and business sessions built around the theme of ‘Story, story, story.’ Revd. Dr. Rosalind Selby, helped us to think about being made in the image and likeness of God. She affirmed that all our key identity markers of gender, ethnicity etc. can be found in God. She suggested that being made in the image of God is about the role we play in relation to each other and that when we do this in God’s image we act out of loving kindness in these relationships. The second keynote was offered by Revd. Dr. Tessa Henry-Robinson who encouraged everyone to think about the importance of our own story, which is unique to us but is also part of God’s story. She reminded us that our stories can inspire others but that we are also called to listen to, not just hear others. Collectively our stories have power and are transformative.
The business sessions heard various reports from working groups and three resolutions were passed – encouraging support for the Honest Church Campaign (honestchurch.org.uk); asking Mission Committee to promote churches and organisations which are working towards a just peace in Occupied Palestine and Israel and finally asking the Youth Executive to look at the roles and responsibilities of the URC Youth Moderator and consider whether this should be a paid post.
One of the aspects of the weekend I enjoyed most was talking with two young Ukrainian women who came to the UK at the outbreak of the war. They have both found a welcome in URC congregations and it was good to hear something of their stories, their hopes and concerns for Ukraine and to hear how they were adjusting to living and studying in the UK. The workshop I had been at was focussed on changing the narrative about refugees and asylum seekers and it was good to hear these positive experiences in what is so often a very negative debate.
The weekend was enjoyed by everyone. Michael Smith was re-elected as the Synod’s representative on the Youth Executive. We wish him and the whole Youth Executive well as they take forward the work of URC Youth.