Since the proposed Structures and Guidelines were presented at Youth Assembly 2015, having been carefully worked upon by both FURY Advisory Board and the Children’s and Youth Work Committee even at that point, much work has been undertaken. The working group has heard the contributions made by FURY Advisory Board, the Children’s and Youth Work Committee, Youth Assembly, members and friends connected to the United Reformed Church (after the Youth Assembly presentation, the papers were shared publicly through both URC Youth and URC communication channels), and taken advice from others within our church governance structures. There has been much careful thought and helpful comment from all of that consultation, for which the working group is grateful.
Although the pace of change has felt too slow for some, any process of change will be difficult for others. The working group remains confident in the benefits of these changes, and the potential which they seek to unlock but recognise that for some, this change will not be easy. As I said at Youth Assembly, these changes:
❖ Acknowledge that the common identity of URC Youth can be stronger, wider, and more inclusive
❖ Acknowledge the privilege of experiencing community together as the URC Youth, and how incredibly important it is
❖ Acknowledge that URC Youth recognises that it needs structures that enable and release, rather than disabling some and restricting others
❖ Acknowledge that the URC youth are serious about being a powerful, passionate, prophetic part of the wider URC for many years to come: ‘we are not the church of tomorrow – we are a crucial part of the body of Christ today’.
So, there have been some changes to the Handbook which was originally presented. In summary, it has been split into three distinct parts:
Document 1: The URC Youth Handbook
This is where the structures and guidelines are contained – the meat of what the URC Youth is and how it operates – which will be owned by the URC Youth Assembly. FAB scrutinised the Handbook extensively and unanimously agreed to adopt it in its entirety, acting on behalf of the Youth Assembly, at its September meeting of 2015. It was agreed on the understanding that the November Mission Council and Youth Assembly 2016 will be informed of the newly adopted structures and guidelines, and it will be up to Youth Assembly from 2017 onwards to propose or agree any subsequent changes to the Handbook.
Document 2: The URC Youth Framework
This is the top line guide which will act as a guide to the Youth Assembly and Youth Executive as to what is within their remit and authority. It’ll be owned by the Children’s and Youth Work Committee, to whom the Youth Assembly and Youth Executive are accountable. It’s also this Committee which is tasked by the General Assembly to be responsible for all things Children’s and Youth in the URC, hence the fact the Framework is owned by them.
Document 3: The URC Youth Assembly Standing Orders 2016
The Youth Assembly Standing Orders had been included in the Handbook, but it’s now clear that they will serve us better in a separate document. They’ll need to be adopted at the beginning of each Youth Assembly, as per usual with standing orders. The guidance on how Youth Assembly uses Consensus Decision Making has also been removed from the Handbook and inserted into the same document as the Standing Orders so that it’s easy to cross refer between the two.
Once those key decisions have been taken by FURY Advisory Board and Children’s and Youth Work Committee, there are still some important steps to be taken:
- To formulate the new visual identity and website of the URC Youth
- To work with all of the Synods in appointing and supporting new or current Synod Youth Representatives to serve from Youth Assembly 2016 on the new Youth Executive
- To communicate these changes with the wider church – via the URC Youth and URC Communication channels and also at Mission Council
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have been a part of this process, whether that’s on a practical level, or in feeding back to those of us who have been leading on this work, and those who have been praying for us as we have discerned where God is leading the URC Youth next. Now that the Structures and Guidelines have been adopted, we’ll be in a period of a few months of transition, with full implementation by the end of Youth Assembly 2016. Speaking of which – if you’re aged from school years 10/S3 up to 25 – have you booked on yet?
FURY Moderator 2015-16