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Youth Ministry on NL’s East Coast

nl-flagHi! It’s Allison, I’m back again! I want to welcome Heather and Matt and thank them for joining the editorial team with me.  I can’t wait to see what they’ve got cooking for their next updates.

I will be writing issue based pieces for the website, as well as contributing to the overall direction/maintenance of the site.  I would like to start with a series of pieces on Youth Ministry on Newfoundland’s East Coast.  I spoke with five of the Anglican churches in St. John’s/Mount Pearl (also known as the “Twin Cities”) and I learned a bunch of interesting things!  And I want to share them with all of you…

And I would love some feedback, what are other churches doing out there?  See anything here you like? Have any suggestions for others struggling with youth ministry?  Please feel free to let us know!

I spoke with representatives from five churches: Rob Cooke at St. Mark’s; Rev. Gail MacDonald at St. Thomas’s; Rev. Sam Rose at St. Michael & All Angels; Rev. David Pilling at St. Augustine’s and Rev. David Burrows at the Church of the Ascension. I had a great time chatting with each and every one of them, and I hope to be able to work with them over the course of my time with the website, and beyond!

I would like to start with a short intro to tell you about what I noticed each of the parishes have in common.  There’s the obvious, like the fact that they are all teaching the same doctrine and most have “traditional” youth initiatives like Sunday School, Confirmation and a Servers Guild.  But some themes emerged.  Things you might not really even think about, but that are very important to the successful operation of the Church’s mission for youth.

The first is a sense of community.  All the youth ministers I spoke with emphasized the importance of working together, engaging the church community and making the “youth group” a part of that community, not separating it, it’s not “us” and “them”.  As it turns out, youth members of the parish want to be a part of the parish.  Who knew?

A second theme I noticed is relationship building.  This, of course, is instrumental in any successful group, youth or otherwise.  You have to trust each other and care about one another in order to successfully work together.  Especially when it comes to activities and groups for youth, this group needs to be a safe haven.  Young people, and we can all relate to this, need to know that they can trust you to keep secrets and to reserve judgment, that they can talk about anything and you won’t make fun or judge them or their choices.  We all feel much more connected to our groups and our community when we feel like we can totally be ourselves.

As well, each of the youth ministers spent time talking about how kids just want to help.  They want to help those less fortunate in their neighbourhoods and province and they want to help those outside, in other provinces, and countries around the world.  The next piece will focus on this aspect of youth ministry, called OUTREACH, and the various forms it takes here in the twin cities.

Stay tuned, and please let us know how we’re doing here at generation.anglican.ca.

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