I write this blog on the back of my first URC Mission Council meeting as Moderator-Elect. It was a brilliant meeting and was a good chance to network with Synod representatives, Church House staff, Synod Moderators, Committee convenors, and more! It was, of course, our chance as URC Youth to have our say in the life of the church today and in the future. The minutes will be found on the URC website in the near future.
Last Tuesday I paid a visit to Bradford to check out the work going on at The Edge project (visit their website here). The Edge is located on a huge estate outside of Bradford called Holmewood. Whilst located amongst beautiful Yorkshire countryside, Holmewood is not without its share of challenges. Most young people in the area experience varying levels of poverty, unemployment, crime, substance abuse and violence. It was harrowing to hear about some of the situations the young people have found themselves in over the years. It was pointed out to me that some young people in the area see prison as a bonus. They receive better meals (and/or the guarantee of one), a roof over their head, and often a better sense of community than that in Holmewood. The Edge is working to try and change that, not particularly to make prisons worse (!!), but in making Holme Wood a community where the quality of life is improved, where no young person is neglected and where each one matters. The project offers drop in sessions most days of the week after school, a place for youth of senior school age to come in, destress, have a drink or some food, play on the Xbox (I won at FIFA, just saying…), watch films etc.. It also offers sexual health sessions, one-to-one counselling, boxing classes, football sessions, baby/toddler groups, young carers sessions and more. Here’s a video made for the URC Community Awards 2012 about the project:
Whilst, as I mentioned, many are driven to violence, substance abuse etc. every young person I spoke to had a kind heart, I had many a laugh and joke with them as each had brilliant stories to tell. This goes to show the assumptions that are made about young offenders; they aren’t all bad, promise! The Edge is run by a charity in its own right, it gains funding from organisations like Children In Need, as well as being partially funded and certainly wholeheartedly supported by the local URC. Is this church? Of course it is! Even though it doesn’t happen in a church, or isn’t even run BY the church, what The Edge does is live out the gospel and mirror the life of Jesus as best they can as followers. Isn’t that what Christians are called to do? Of course it is!
I want to pose to you some questions, to which I’d invite your response either on social media, or by commenting on this blog, or just ponder to yourself:
- What things do you do, NOT in a church building, that you would consider church?
- Do you know of any projects like this happening in your local area or Synod? If not, why not do a bit of research?
- Are there any things that you’d love to see done in your local community?
Perhaps there are merits in your idea/s? Why not speak to your minister? An elder? Church secretary? Anyone! Share your ideas!
From a personal point of view, sometimes we get caught up in URC Youth Assembly just being an event that we attend every year. URC Youth on the whole is just the crucial beginning to our amazing journey with Christ! But on a year-by-year basis, Youth Assembly is your sending out into the world, to take on board what you hear about, do, speak about, and use your gifts and talents in your own way to make a difference in your communities! You don’t have to do it on your own, there are people around you to help! Help isn’t just on the ground either, you’ve got Jesus…
“For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them”
Matthew 18:20 (New Living Translation)
Need I say more?