Anglican Children and Youth Ministries Commission
Youth Synod: Retrospective
Julie Ward, Chair, Anglican Children and Youth Ministries Commission (ACYMC)
1984, I attended Youth Synod, and many 15-25-year-old Perth Anglicans did too. We had a great time. Later that year, with great enthusiasm, we presented ourselves to the Diocesan Synod with a few ideas, including playing live music, resulting in requests to turn down the volume.
The point of this is not the enthusiasm, the response, or the righteousness of the young but the upskilling of young Anglicans that took place at that time.
These early Youth Synods reflected the title. Motions were submitted, debated and voted on within the framework of the written Standing Orders and recognisable procedures. We learnt to make our motions actionable, even though pretty much all we did was ask the Archbishop to do something. We discovered that some people had different theological understandings, which was both curious and challenging.
It wasn't just the fun and games of the synodical process; there were various liturgical events over the weekend, put together by young adults, and often a panel of speakers providing input and taking questions. Episcopal presence at these events normalised discussion between leaders and passionate young adults.
Between Youth Synods, the Standing Committee, YSAG, Youth Synod Action Group, elected at Youth Synod, worked to plan the next weekend. Maureen Munro, the Diocesan worker, provided guidance and mentorship. YSAG used a revolving office bearer model. We took turns learning how to Chair, take Minutes, write letters and host meetings. YSAG would go out and inspect possible venues, select the theme and bible verse for the weekend, arrange timelines, collate material for the handbook, line up musicians and guest speakers and even print the handbook in the utility room of the old Church Office.
Other supporting events were arranged. Some discipleship, some purely social.
It is tempting to say that young adults were everywhere in our parishes, but the reality for many of us was that parish life was lonely. Discovering a Deanery group was exciting, and mixing with others at Youth Synod was life-changing. Friendships made, life partners found, and vocations revealed.
Many young adults I met and worked with have gone into ordained and lay ministries. We have been leaders, workers and faithful servants.
I know others will have similar but different stories of events, people or experiences that propelled them on their path. The what or how is unimportant; the availability of these events, people and experiences are.
Sustainability also involves constructing structures that will mentor and upskill people to make decisions and get things done.
At ACYMC, we are conscious of being in a space with too much emptiness. Events, people and experiences need planning, funding and a market, and, most of all, time. It's about providing a pathway and expectations. It's about our young people now and our church in the future. The church in the future needs today's church to mentor, teach and go on a journey with our children and youth.
So, my question now, as Chair of ACYMC, is, what ideas have you got? Catch us at our Synod stall and fill in our survey. Help us fill the emptiness.