Last year at Methodist Youth Assembly we had these great coloured perspex hanging signs (I'm sure they have a proper name!) that encouraged us to Think. Talk. (and) Be. This year we had them again, and it proved a wonderful focal point for me. But we developed the theme further. We thought about Calling. Response. (and God's) Promise.
I missed the Friday evening due to travelling, and the chaos that that was! But if they do hold these things North of London! Anyway, that means I missed the focus around Calling. But I don't think that mattered.
I arrived at Kidderminster (an hour late) to find a very relieved Grace and some people from London as they were waiting in a taxi for me to go to the centre where we were staying. It was great to catch up with Grace, through snatched conversation over a seat (I was in the front, she was behind me).
When we arrived at the Pioneer Centre, it was time to catch up with people, but also collect our collective thoughts on the workshop Grace and I were going to lead on Saturday. Luckily I work best to a deadline last minute, so I could work through the worries that Grace had, and we had a great plan. Just needed to put it into action!
Hopefully that is the 'diary' bit done, and now some thoughts.
Saturday was all about response. We had a great time of informal and reflective worship after breakfast. This really rooted everything we did in worship and prayer, something I was very glad of at Conference and it really pleased me to see Youth Assembly fully committed to doing everything in and through Christ.
This year, the age group for 3Generate (Methodist Children and Youth Assembly) was expanded, and then divided into 3 streams, 9-13 14-17 and 18+ (up to 23). There was some apprehension from people beforehand, but this worked really well! It was great as an 18+ to have the independence, and choice. Not just to engage with issues in workshops, but to be able to have led bible study. This was a really useful time for me. And led in such a great way!
We of course spent time as our response looking at ways we could change and challenge the church and the world we live in. It was really interesting and encouraging seeing lots of the stream engaging with these workshops, and looking at ways we can make a difference. Because we can, and it was great that this was accepted by all.
I loved the whole weekend. It really was great. There were however, some stand out moments for me. One of these was the late night worship on Saturday. This was based around a traditional Methodist thing - a Lovefeast. This started with a few worship songs, led by Jon Green (@oschaplaincy) and part way through everyone in the room had got themselves into a circle. Incredible. The Vice-President of Conference (Ruth Pickles) gave us an amazing testimony from 8 years of her life where she really struggled. It was so humbling to hear these words, spoken with such strength and love, without anger. Incredible. We then moved into the Lovefeast proper. I helped to facilitate a group and it was so great to help young people share their story together.
Sunday morning worship has got to be the moment of the weekend. We shared in communion, and then Jo Cox (@revjoannecox) spoke with passion and engaged with us all (Well certainly me) The idea was to focus on what happens when we respond to our call. The promise of God. Jo managed to recap the whole weekend, calling, reponse and then elaborate on promise.
Jo invited us to respond to the weekend, by selecting things from a bowl at the front. I was humbled when one of the young people in the group I talked with the night before came up to me and asked me to tie a thread (one of the responses) around her wrist. She thanked me for what I had done to. I didn't feel like I had done anything, other than say don't be afraid to explore! I was so humbled. This really was a great moment.
The great thing about events like this is coming together with old friends, getting to know people better. It was great to catch up with friends, and make new ones in the presence of God. And God really was present. The whole weekend was the encouragement I needed. Worship on Sunday was AMAZING! No exaggeration there.
Apologies if this is muddled, and doesn't really make sense, but I still haven't properly reflected on the weekend enough! All I can say is something is happening. And it will be young people who are the change makers.
We Thought. We Talked. Now we are Being. We are Called. We will Respond. And we will receive God's Promise
3Generate was worth all the travel problems!