Breaking new ground for youth in the Methodist Church

Young people are on the verge of becoming empowered by ground-breaking changes that will be the talk of this year's Methodist Youth Conference.

Around 150 16 to 23-year-olds will celebrate the launch of the £4 million Youth Participation Strategy (YPS) at Kings Park Conference Centre in Northampton from November 21 to 23.

YPS was conceived by Youth Conference and will enable young people to become involved in making decisions about the direction of the church on a level never seen before.

The strategy will see 32 young people employed in new, part-time salaried posts as District Youth Enablers across the Methodist Church in Britain and one young person employed in a full-time salaried post as Youth President.

This is the first time salaried positions have been specifically targeted at the 16 to 23-year-olds in order that young people help guide the direction of the church.

The Youth Conference, which came into being in 1995, will elect the Youth President who will be tasked with being a representative and spokesperson for young people in the church.

Chair of the Youth Conference, Sarah Malik, 20, said: 'This is the first stepping stone of the YPS with young people actually participating in the Methodist Church. "With the new system, there will be lots of support in place to help young people who want to make a difference.'

President Brian Caveney, 23, said: 'Within this next year there will be changes to the whole Connexion as to how young people can get involved on every level. That is all down to YPS and it is exciting. I think when it gets going fully in September 2009 it will be very empowering for young people.'

Youth violence will also be a returning item on the Youth Conference's agenda. At The Methodist Church Conference in Scarborough in July 2008, members accepted the Youth Conference Resolution to investigate how local churches could address the issues that lead to violence among young people, including knife crime. In response to this, members from the existing Youth Executive, the Association of Black Methodist Youth and three young people elected by Youth Conference will form part of a group who will take this resolution forward.

There are still a few places left for young people wanting to attend Methodist Youth Conference. To book, check out www.youthconference.co.uk

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