by Phil Colvin
It all started over ice cream.
During a short break in the Ask & Imagine program in 2010, Su McLeod (Diocese of BC) Andrew Stephens-Rennie (Diocese of Ottawa) and myself talked about the shared joys and challenges of coordinating youth ministry for an Anglican diocese.
We wondered what it would be like to gather those doing that same regional ministry from across the country. Could we build a network of support and collegiality for those doing this particular ministry? Would it be possible to develop a vision and a set of shared goals which could be taken back and worked on across Canada?
That conversation continued and developed into the Lutheran Anglican Stronger Together gathering on Thetis Island in BC in September 2011. 25 Anglicans and Lutherans came together to share their stories, get better insight into the national visions for youth ministry in our Churches and to shape plans which could be taken and implemented across the variety of contexts through which we minister across the country.
And now, a year later, we’re gearing up to gather again. Stronger Together 2012 will be taking place this October 28 – 31st at the Kings Fold Retreat Centre near Cochrane, Alberta. Once again we’re inviting those whose youth ministry encompasses a region, diocese or synod in the Anglican and Lutheran churches to join us.
Like last year, we’re able to offer this event at a greatly reduced cost thanks to a grant we have received from the Ministry Initiatives Fund of the Anglican Church. Aside from travel to and from Calgary, there is just a small registration fee for the whole event.
So what will actually happen in October? The vision and goals we drew up will be part of the framework for the gathering. However, we know that there were plenty of dioceses and synods not able to be with us in 2011, and there are plenty of new arrivals in youth ministry positions over the past year who we’re excited to meet!
We’ll be catching up on the past year, and those stories we haven’t shared yet, to give a complete context to our discussions. We’ll be helped in that process by our facilitator, John Berard. John brings over 25 years of experience as a national trainer with Youth For Christ. He is a member of the Anglican community of St Benedict’s Table in Winnipeg, Manitoba and co-writer of the book Consuming Youth; which we’ll be using as our starting point.
Last year we identified several key areas for successful, vital and sustainable youth ministry: visioning, leadership formation, resourcing, communication and the nurturing of each individual young person.
We’re looking forward to hearing where different dioceses, synods and organisations have been seeing their ministries flourish in some of these areas. This will be a great opportunity to see how our gifts are spread across the country, and to help equip each other to meet the particular challenges of our different contexts.
We’re looking forward to seeing old friends again, but we’re especially excited about the prospect of having many more regions join us to help develop a ministry among young people which can reach right across the Church.
If you’re the contact person for a diocese or synod, you should already have received your invitation to Stronger Together. If you haven’t, and you’re wanting to be a part of it, get in touch with Andrew or Judy for more information.
As in 2011, we want to support each diocese or synod who wants to attend. And so if your region would require a travel bursary to help you be there, let us know. We can’t wait to see you for the next round of visioning, dreaming, planning, knowing that we’ll be stronger together this October!
Who knows? Maybe there will be more ice cream…
Phil Colvin is the Diocesan Youth Coordinator in the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster. He has worked with youth around the word, from placements in an orphanage in Bulgaria to a favella school in Brazil and a drug rehabilitation centre for Tibetan youth in northern India. He currently co-facilitates the Leadership, Experience and Adventure Program at the Sorrento Centre, and Junior Co-Ed summer camp at Camp Artaban on Gambier Island.