Connecting with each other, connecting with God
Connection was the key theme of the youth sessions at the Baptist Assembly
More than 30 young people from Year 7 to Year 13 were registered to be part of the youth space, which was facilitated by Clare Hooper from the Children, Youth and Families (CYF) Round Table and a team from Southern Counties Baptist Association.
‘It was about connection,’ said Clare , ‘connecting with each other and connecting with God.
‘In the first session we facilitated discussion around the story of the prodigal son and reflection on our own experiences as space to connect. In the second session we ran several workshops which included drama, prayer beads, well-being and how to facilitate a small group. There were also prayer spaces for them to use throughout our time together.
‘We wanted the opportunity to listen to the young people as they shared about where God feels close, and where He feels absent in the context of family, friends, school, and church.
‘We also went to the beach, and that was a highlight for them!’
Clare said the young people shared a range of feedback.
‘What came up strongly is that sense of importance of gathering with people who understand each other, understand where they are coming from in terms of having a faith and belonging to a church. For some, they are the only people of their age group in their church.
‘So there was a sense of loving being part of the wider Baptist family, so gathering together is really important for them.
‘We asked them, where do they see or feel God among Baptists Together? For many it’s in their leaders – they said they really value their leaders, the people they are, how they lead and their faith.
‘By contrast, they don’t like falling outs.’
Clare says this is the beginning of a five-year plan in which it is hoped the CYF Round Table will oversee the youth stream at the Baptist Assembly, and a process that will see the young people increasingly being given responsibilities and the opportunity to have their voices heard.
‘This was the start, so we will think about what worked well, what didn’t and build something together. The young people have given us some fantastic feedback to help us going forward.
‘We’ll think about what it means to listen to their voice – the piece in the latest magazine is the start of that. How can we integrate their voice more fully in Baptist life?’