My Justice Journey: An MAYC programme

Lynne Norman, Development Officer in the Children, Youth and Family Team

blog-8-mayc-programmeMy job title is a long one – Mission and Community Engagement Development Officer for the Children, Youth and Family Team. In a nutshell this means that, alongside supporting the wider strategy of the team, I oversee the ‘Agents of Change’ work, which aims to inspire and equip children and young people who are exploring the call to be activists, volunteers, campaigners, peace-makers and project-starters.

I really love my job. It’s not always easy – and it definitely keeps me busy! But every day I work alongside brilliant colleagues and, more importantly, I get to meet some really amazing and inspiring children and young people who care about justice and want to do their bit to make the world a better place.

There’s another reason I love my job. It feels as though it has brought my justice journey full circle, which brings me to the artefact that I am writing this blog about.

My photo features the programme from a Methodist Association of Youth Clubs (MAYC) London Weekend that took place in 1994 – an eye watering 28 years ago, when I was a mere 15 years old. For good measure I’ve also included the pompom I caught at that very weekend (those who attended a London Weekend will remember this very old school way of making new friends/pen pals, which certainly wouldn’t pass muster with today’s safeguarding policies and procedures).

blog-8-mayc-lynneThis was my first ever London Weekend (I would go on to attend two more), which back then were the annual national youth event of the Methodist Church. I’d started to attend the local MAYC group in my home town of Darwen, Lancashire a few months before on the invitation of a friend. At that point, although being raised in the Church of England, I wasn’t a Christian. I had, however, started to ask spiritual questions and explore what I believed. MAYC provided a safe place for me to find some of those answers.

I remember the weeks and months leading up to the London Weekend as ones full of excitement and anticipation as we planned our green and yellow outfits (I had a neon green plaid skirt that I absolutely adored), designed our MASSIVE banner and washed the cars of supportive church members to raise funds for our coach travel. Travelling down the motorway towards London, you’d pass by other coachloads of green and yellow youth and know you were a part of something big.

As I say, I attended three MAYC youth weekends in all. Why, therefore, did I choose the 1994 programme to write my blog about? Well, aside from the fact it was my first, it was also my first ever experience of writing to a key decision-maker as part of a justice campaign. Inside this programme an A6 section of one of the pages has been cut-out. This is because, as part of MAYC’s International Action Project that year, Trade for Change, we were asked to write to Cadbury-Schweppes about the unfair trade in the chocolate industry – and I dutifully did so. Here’s some of the text that remains on that page:

“For years MAYC has been learning about the causes of world poverty. Now we’re getting serious. It’s time to act – and we mean business!

We refuse to settle for a world where the hungry will need emergency aid for the rest of their lives. We are going to try and change the causes of poverty. […] MAYC members have told the public about the need for fair trade. Now we’re going to target decision-makers.

You can do so much. For many, many people you will make the world of difference, not just this year, but every year.”

I grew up as part of the generation who watched Live Aid on the TV. I remember as a small child seeing images of poverty and famine in other countries on the news and feeling sad, but thinking these horrible things were just bad luck for the people they happened to. I didn’t realise – until MAYC taught me – that there were root causes to worldwide poverty and that we had the power – and the responsibility – to do something other than just giving money to aid charities when asked. The MAYC London Weekend 1994, and sending that postcard to Cadbury-Schweppes, was, for me, the start of my justice journey.

Fast-forward 28 years and my team is currently pulling together the plans for this year’s 3Generate – which is the present-day annual national Methodist children’s and youth assembly. Every year 3Generate includes space for children and young people to consider God’s call to be Agents of Change in the world – and, if they feel able, to commit to respond to that call with action. It gives me goose pimples to think that each 3Generate will offer participants the opportunity to start their justice journey, just as I started mine back in 1994. What an absolute privilege to be a part of that and to be able to give back to a movement that so inspired me in my faith and my campaigning.

More stories of Methodist ministry to children and young people and the impact this had on justice journeys will feature as videos on the 3GenerateTV YouTube channel. 3GenTV - YouTube

If you have a story to share of MAYC or other children’s and youth ministry and how it impacted your justice journey, share a picture and a post on social media using #MyJusticeJourney.