Youth Worker's Letter for July
By the time this magazine is published I will only have a week left in my role at Bury Parish Church. After a little short of five years working at St Mary’s and St Paul’s, I will be moving on to a new job with the Diocese of Leeds, on their Children, Young People and Families Team. It’s an exciting new role, but I will be sad to be leaving not just my workplace but also my spiritual home of the last few years, and my family here.
It was several weeks ago that I was invited to interview in Leeds, and asked to prepare a presentation on encouraging young people to be involved in the structures of the Church of England (more exciting that it sounds!). One of the key points in my response was that we must take a holistic approach to ensuring young people’s voices are heard in church - that it’s not just a question of Diocesan publicity or energetic church youth workers, but that the whole church family needs to make the effort to listen to young people, their opinions, their dreams, their fears. There’s an oft-quoted (but rarely-referenced) proverb, allegedly of African origin, that ‘it takes a village to raise a child’, and it takes all of us in the church to support children and young people in their Christian walk.
It’s not a concept that’s unique to youth voices. In his first letter to the Corinthians, St Paul famously writes about the church community as a body with many parts. Although we are united in Christ, we are all different people - younger, older, faster, slower, interested in sport, interested in the arts, Lancashire born and bred, an alien in the red rose county. We have different roles to fill, different skills and talents to apply. We are not all choristers or Mothers’ Union members, but we work together, look out for one another and celebrate together.
And so I’d like to finish by celebrating all who have supported the children’s work and youth work at St Mary’s and St Paul’s over the last five years. I had considered listing all who have volunteered at an activity, but actually, given what I’ve written above, that doesn’t include enough people. So thank you to:
• everyone who has helped at an activity, on a regular basis or as a one-off.
• everyone who has promoted an activity, whether advertising it or publicising it.
• everyone who has given money to support the church’s work with children and young people.
• everyone who has donated items for children or young people to use or enjoy.
• everyone who has prayed for the church’s work with children and young people.
• everyone who has spoken with, listened to or simply smiled at a child or young person.
Thank you for investing in God’s work, in God’s family. May you continue to do so, growing in love for him and for one another.