Methodist Young People Heard at Conference

Methodist Young People Heard at Conference

Young people have had their views heard at theMethodist Conference held at Methodist Central Hall, Westminsterwith a call for the Church to help them explore issues of faith andsociety.
Children and young Methodists have used this year's MethodistConference to highlight the issues they would like the Church tohelp them think about. The topics include the environment, poverty,bullying, accessibility and the refugee crisis. The young people'sviews were the result of discussion and debate at last November's3Generate event, where close to 600 young Methodists aged 8-23gathered together to worship, learn and make decisions about howthe Church should represent them.

On Monday 4 July, the Methodist Conference, the Church's governingbody, directed the Connexional Leaders Forum and Methodist Councilto take forward the themes highlighted by the report and monitorprogress, requesting a report on the work by April 2017.
The subjects highlighted by the report are to be exploredunder the theme of Wonderfully Made with thetopics of Wonderful Me, WonderfulChurch, Wonderful World andWonderfully Prophetic. Over the coming years thesethemes will be reflected in the programmes for3Generate. 

Wonderful Me focuses on the individual, ensuringyoung people are welcomed into their Church, are engaged in thelife of the Church and that they are supported in times of need;emotionally, physically and spiritually.

Wonderful Church encourages the Church to discusschallenging topics around sex and relationships, death and politicsand to ensure that churches are positive places where all can loveand be loved.

Wonderful World asks the Church to look outwardsand provide a prayerful and missional response to issues such aswar, homelessness and climate change.
Wonderfully Prophetic requests that theChurch seeks a prophetic voice to its work, internally andexternally.  

Discussions were streamed between three age groups, 8 - 11, 11 -18 and 18 - 23 to ensure that the event was accessible for allchildren and young people with discussions tailored for each agegroup. 

The 8 - 11 group focused their thoughts around the Church,community and world, expressing their desire to play an active rolein Church activities and to explore their faith, to help others andto care for the environment. The children wanted support toconsider where God can be found in an increasingly complexworld.

The 11 - 18 stream produced a manifesto that encourageddiscussions around same sex marriage, war, bullying, refugees andensuring that churches and worship are accessible forall. 

The oldest group, between 18 and 23, considered that the Churchshould explore questions around loving their enemies, speaking outon behalf of marginalised groups and to use the language of love tochallenge poverty. The group also wanted to highlight integrationand participation of younger people in Church life.

The current Youth President, Craig Gaffney, was appointed at the3Generate event in November and commented: "The Methodist Churchhas a great tradition of listening to its young people. It is greatto see that what we think is being taken seriously by the Churchand that we are given the freedom to reach our own conclusions onwhat our priorities should be.

"The topics we discussed will ensure that the Church responds tothe issues that are concerning young people and supports us in whatour responses should be as young Christians.  

"The support of the Conference will ensure that the wider Churchtakes our concerns and priorities into account in its work andmission."

1.Craig Gaffney, and members of the 3Generate Team, are availablefor interview upon request.  

2.The Youth President is a paid, annual appointment voted for bythe young people themselves at 3Generate, formerly the MethodistChildren & Youth Assembly.
3.3Generate is an annual action-packed weekend for hearing thevoice of children and young people across the Methodist Church,focussing on fun, faith and friends. For more information, see their website.

4.A photograph of Craig Gaffney can be downloaded on the Methodist Flickrpage.