Its only 3 days until Synod Together! Come along to St. Andrew’s URC in Cheam this Saturday for some fun!
Olivia tells of the wondrous events of our June meeting….
The June weekend meeting kicked off with a bang at Reigate Park Church! Once everyone who could attend had arrived, Danny set about straight away with an activity challenge to be carried out over the weekend. After that we were straight into the first business session to discuss promoting SSYE and the new Quiz Event we hope to run after Synod Together.
Let Lunch commence! After eating many ham sandwiches, we washed up and then headed off to the nearby park to play Frisbee. It was both fun and tiring and we were soon trudging back to continue with the second session of Business to plan Synod Together. We were very productive and managed to consolidate our plans and look at them in more detail – assigning each person to a workshop and discussing the Bible Study Group details. You’ll have to attend the event in October to find out the details!
Dinner was especially exciting as we visited Reuben’s house for a BBQ – although the weather may have been a bit disappointing it was great fun and we met more with people from his church. Afterwards we played a few board games and then we were back for free time!
We had a lot of fun playing Weeping Angels around the church and thoroughly enjoyed creeping each other out! It was a great team building game as we had to rely on each other to win. Finally after many scares it was bedtime as we were all exhausted!
Then it was up bright and early on Sunday morning, to pack and get ready for the morning in church. Reuben and Olivia did a drama piece in the service and Connor did our promotional talk on the Exec and the many opportunities we offer, to the church. Then it was mingling time followed by our third business session which concluded the weekend and refined our earlier plans. After lunch it was time to say goodbye until next time. All in all it was a great weekend of productivity and fun!
After a fairly long time in development, our new SSYE election system has been approved and is now officially operational! This means that new members can join us throughout the year to experience what life on the Exec is like, to allow them to make an informed decision about whether they wish to be officially elected in November at Synod Together. It is now easier than ever to get involved!
The 8th November saw the SSYE gather to help run Synod Together, a youth event run alongside the Southern Synod’s annual meeting. This year, Synod Together was held at Caterham School, an independent school associated with the URC that could give Hogwarts a run for its money! 12 young people from across the Southern area joined us for an exciting day of games, activities and exploring our theme, ‘Lost and Found’.
The day started by joining the main meeting in the theatre building for opening worship, which included the presentation of a Child- Friendly Church award, and a farewell to Nick White, who did lots of wonderful work as the Children’s and Youth work Development Officer for many years.
We then braved the rain to find the hall where we were based. The first activity of the day was a set of team challenges, including a very difficult (but entertaining!) string maze and some intense apple bobbing worthy of the record books!
The days theme was ‘Lost and Found’ following on from the theme of this year’s Youth Assembly. Our main focus was the Parables found in Luke 15; the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin and the Prodigal Son. We watched a video interpretation of each one and the discussed what we thought in small groups. It was great to hear people’s thoughts and feelings around the subject, for example how we can be lost and found in relation to God.
After short presentations about the Youth Exec, Youth Assembly and Southern Synod Youth Camp, it was lunchtime! This was followed by splitting into more groups to explore the theme of lost and found in a creative sense, with the young people doing a drama workshop, run by Jo, Sam and Olivia, or creating textured map with Ruth and Alex. Although both of these activities have been described by the leaders as ‘slightly chaotic’, people taking part had fun and got really stuck in, with brilliant results that were shared with the group at the end of the day.
The textured map was a way to express times of feeling lost, for example when starting a new school. One young person used coloured sand to make a small stream, which went on to flow into a lake. This was to symbolise how he didn’t know many people when he started his new school, but then as time went on, he got to know people and gained friends.
The drama group performed a piece about the prodigal son. They chose the parable and performed it in their own unique way- there was time travel involved! It was great to see all the young people perform their parts so confidently, and telling the story in a different way.
At Synod Together we also gained a wonderful new member of SSYE! Reuben applied to join us and we were encouraged by his passion for getting young people involved in Church. He will be joining us for our meetings from now on, and we look forward to welcoming him properly at out Christmas party!
Overall, as a Youth Exec, we felt that the day was a great success and look forward to planning next year! Thankyou to all those who came and helped make the day wonderful!
Conor enlightens us as to the events of our October meeting…
During the 11th-12th October we held one of our 3 weekend meetings. The meeting marked quite an important moment for Southern Synod Youth Exec – the official hand over of SSYE responsibility to Danny Goodall, our new youth worker, after Josh Thomas sadly left us a few months ago.
What did we actually get up to?
The exec arrived at the Temple URC in St Mary Cray, home of two of our exec members, on Saturday 11th October by 10:30. Meeting in the Vernon hall to begin with, we dropped our stuff, set up the hall and sat together to get some introductions out of the way.
After Nick White, Southern Synod’s CYDO, had updated us on what had been happening in the wider synod on Children and Youth we met Danny Goodall. While some of us were meeting him for the first time, it only took a silly icebreaker and many pots of tea to make him feel welcome to the SSYE family.
Once we got the introductions out of the way we moved on to some opening worship. This was a thought provoking session by Nick that made us all think about our actions and levels of patience; patience being something you definitely need if you have to listen to Alex Jeffs’ jokes all weekend..
With all the opening formalities done it was time to move to business!
With quite a lot to discuss, we got straight into our first business session. We talked about various important parts of SSYE work: how to feed young people’s views into the wider synod, what recommendations we wanted to send to the Children’s and Youth Work Committee and even putting the finishing touches to our Synod Together plans for November. After our business session we moved to the larger Moffat hall to plan and film bits for our Synod Together presentation. While some of us may be camera shy, we got to work and filmed everything needed to make our video.
The rest of Saturday night comprised of good food, good friends and more fun and games! The boys had strategically earmarked the youth room, complete with pool table, TV and an Xbox, as their overnight room.
On Sunday morning, after some bacon sandwiches, we moved onto another session of formal business. This session was a lot more inward facing than Saturday’s session. We discussed the future of SSYE, our structure, how to get young people involved and what events we might like to organise.
As always, a mix of business, fun, terrible jokes and excessive tea drinking makes a recipe for success at any SSYE weekend.
After November (Synod Together), we look forward to welcoming some new members to our youth executive.. If you’re reading this and want to get involved or know a young person who wants to get involved please do get in touch!
Alex J’s General Assembly fun continues…
When I woke up this morning, I woke with a sense of trepidation and anticipation. Yes, it was the first day of serious business to be happening, so I expected much seat shuffling and headaches, and while that certainly occurred there was also much else to consider. In this day and age where looking busy suggests productivity, how are we supposed to find the slightest tremor of God’s voice? I liken this situation to a Passenger song which was released earlier this year: All I need is a whisper in a world that only shouts. In both Passenger’s situation and mine, there was a lot of soul-searching and a keenness to find the voice of truth.
Perhaps I’m being overdramatic, after all, why should the first day of business conjure emotions of fear and suspense? The reason I felt this way was because the Human Sexuality Group (a group within the URC) wanted to create a discussion regarding same-sex marriage. Shocked? Me too, we were only informed days beforehand that the outcome of the discussion would lead to a resolution we would have to address the next day. Needless to say, when David Grosch-Miller began the talks, my head was all over the place. Simon Peter can vouch for me when I say I was extremely nervous.
I’m going to stop now before this turns into an agony aunt entry (and also I’m limited in what I can say). After around an hour and half of discussions, Grosch-Miller announced the end of talks and handed the matter over to the Facilitation Group, who would use the time to make a resolution which we will talk about tomorrow. Nervous? You bet.
Anyway, let’s have some positive news! I am greatly encouraged by the 14 new ministers and church related community workers for the URC. Few things bring me as much joy as seeing people giving their lives and servitude to the Lord and His Church, so to see them on the stage shaking hands with the Moderators was a really special moment for me. The other major news for me would be the increase of contributions to the Ministries & Mission (M&M) fund by 1% each year. It doesn’t sound like much, that’s because it isn’t! If you were on an average wage and you increased your tithe each month to accommodate the 1%, you’d be paying an extra £2 each month. Not much!
So at this point in time, I’m enjoying General Assembly, however I am very aware the worst is yet to come. The mental health resolution is up to the vote tomorrow, as will be the same-sex marriage one. Should I say anything? I don’t know, it’s a very complex issue and I doubt I have anything to say that would make any difference. We’ll see.
Alex J. reports on his interesting experiences of the first day of General Assembly…
We’ve arrived. Registration forms handed in, pass cards given to us, seats have been reserved and our thoughts gather to the business that looms ahead. But are we ready? Certainly, as I sat there enjoying the Welsh harpists playing the sweetest melodies there was a feeling of calm and peace. However, just as the calm before the storm, it is only temporal, and usually misleading. We arrived at St David’s Hall in central Cardiff just after lunch on Thursday and were welcomed by officials organising the event. The familiar face of David Grosch-Miller was there in the finest garments, seemingly prepared to be elected to the role of the United Reformed Church Moderator; although I do wonder whether he was as nervous as we were.
I am very pleased to have Grosch-Miller on board, he comes across as a very holy man, passionate for the Gospel and a willingness to be involved with young people. And always smiling. Even though he was about to be elected to one of the highest roles within the URC, he always has that calmness and joy in his voice, hopefully something that will not diminish during his ministry in the hot seat. During the course of the afternoon, we had a taste of the Welsh traditions, from harp-playing to choirs and a translated Welsh hymn (you seriously wouldn’t want to hear my terrible Gaelic accent).
We also inducted the new Moderator (Grosch-Miller) and were treated to a rather tasty lasagne, so all in all a good day! Here’s hoping the next few days are exciting…
Alex J. tells of his adventures at the What Do You Think? event…
The last three days of What Do You Think? has been ridiculously tiring. For two and a half days, we have been analysing and discussing the resolutions that will be featuring at this year’s General Assembly. Various resolutions varying from church membership to the age of non-stipendiary ministers (that’s ministers who aren’t paid) to where money in the URC is going; needless to say these are big decisions we are making. But that is what makes the URC so great, the big decisions aren’t left to the leaders in charge, it is through discerning the will of God and democratic vote that allows the people of God to build the church, and greater still, the Kingdom.
Without a doubt it has been exceptionally helpful, firstly just the conversations with my peers has helped to understand each resolution! (Seriously, check out Resolution 19 in the Book of Reports, it was not easy for me to comprehend!). It has also been great to see old faces and meet new ones, one of the greatest assets of having a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ is the fellowship and community you share with His people. I genuinely believe if everyone saw the love and compassion Christians show during such events as General Assembly, people would be amazed; it is something unique and a tremendous blessing for those who are a part of the redeemed community.
There are many things I have learned, not least to avoid debates about homosexuality at one o’clock in the morning! My peers and I have explored what church membership means, and what it means to us and how it affects the structure of the URC. In addition, we have developed our listening and case-building skills, so that when we finally get round to voting for the resolutions, we will be more ready (though I’m sure there is a long way to go).
In terms of what others could learn, it is very important that synods give time for people attending GA to look at each resolution and offer a forum where they can discuss their views with others. Of course, the Southern Synod offered this just a few weeks ago, and I thoroughly believe these should continue in future. Otherwise, the best bit for me has got to be the company we have shared with each other. It is great to have such a close group of friends, and I look forward to spending the rest of Assembly with them.
Alex J. shares his thoughts on the upcoming URC General Assembly (and in doing so informs us that an intervention needs to be staged to end his sugar addictions…)
Sitting on a Great Western train with a bottle of coke and a bag of minstrels, several thoughts are going through my mind.
1. What should I expect from General Assembly?
- How is Jesus going to use this week to work towards fulfilling the purpose of the Church?
- Is my sugar addiction uncontrollable?
Well two of those questions, only He knows at this present time, however following conversations with people who have been before, it is clear there is much to be done (note: not about my unhealthy cravings). For me, this is the first time I’m going to General Assembly, so I’m a little bit wary of what is to come. A young Christian surrounded by experienced United Reformed Ministers and officials. A small fish in a very big pond springs to mind. Scary. I will also be in Cardiff (which just for clarification is not an inherently terrifying ordeal), but is somewhere I’ve never been before.
However, there are some things that I am looking forward to, namely seeing friends and staying in a hotel (I’ve no idea why this is exciting, but it just is). I’m anticipating sharing worship with fellow Christians, and working together building a better Church, through voting for resolutions and sharing each other’s company. There is the small matter of “What Do You Think?” which is for young people who are going to Assembly, so I’m hoping during those three days I might understand why it is such an important part of the processes of the URC.
Alas, I am almost at Cardiff and the Minstrels have been decimated, so here ends my first General Assembly log. Continue to follow the blog and follow URC Communications on Twitter for the live updates. This year the URC is allowing people to stream General Assembly from their website, which I recommend watching here: http://www.urc2014.org.uk/ (I am microphone-shy, so you won’t be hearing my voice, you lucky souls).