URC Youth tell good stories

From Seeds April – May 2024

There was a significant TLC* presence at this year’s URC Youth Assembly, held near Lichfield. The Revd Lindsey Sanderson, recently inducted as Moderator of the National Synod of Scotland, was also there and reports back. This January, five of us from the Synod headed to URC Youth Assembly 2024.

We had two young people from TLC Youth in Edinburgh, Matt Baines, the Synod Youth Ministry Development Worker, Alex Peden, supporting one of the young people, and myself, representing the URC Synod Moderators.

The weekend was a mix of keynote presentations, workshops, worship and business sessions built around the theme of ‘Story, story, story’. The Revd Dr Rosalind Selby helped us to think about being made in the image and likeness of God. She said all our key identity markers of gender, ethnicity etc. can be found in God. She suggested that being made in the image of God is about the role we play in relation to each other and that when we do this in God’s image we act out of loving kindness in these relationships.

The second keynote was offered by the current URC Moderator, the Revd Dr Tessa Henry-Robinson, who of the URC Youth Moderator and consider whether this should be a paid post. encouraged everyone to think about the importance of our own story, which is unique to us but is also part of God’s story. She reminded us that our stories can inspire others but that we are also called to listen to, not just hear, others. Collectively our stories have power and are transformative.

“our stories can inspire others but we are also called to listen to, not just hear, others”

Different working groups reported to the Assembly and three resolutions were passed. The young people encouraged support for the Honest Church campaign (honestchurch.org.uk), which promotes ‘greater honesty about the true welcome that women and LGBTQ+ people in receive in church’. A second resolution asked the URC’s Mission Committee to promote churches and organisations which are working towards a just peace in Occupied Palestine and Israel; and finally, the Youth Executive was asked to look at the roles and responsibilities of the URC Youth Moderator and consider whether this should be a paid post.

One of the aspects of the weekend I enjoyed most was talking with two young Ukrainian women who came to the UK at the outbreak of the war. They have both found a welcome in URC congregations and it was good to hear something of their stories, their hopes and concerns for Ukraine, and to hear how they were adjusting to living and studying in the UK. One workshop I had been at focussed on changing the narrative about refugees and asylum seekers and it was good to hear these positive experiences in what is so often a very negative debate.

The weekend was enjoyed by everyone. Michael Smith was reelected as the Synod’s representative on the Youth Executive. We wish him and the whole Youth Executive well as they take forward the work of URC Youth.

*TLC – The Local Church, an ecumenical group that includes St Columba’s by the Castle and Greyfriars Kirk.