Up with The Kids!

A belated blog, as I still come down from being on a high at the URC Youth Assembly. So much enthusiasm, energy, excitement! If I was to rate it on trip advisor, it would be getting 5 stars for everything – well, maybe not for the 6.30am fire alarm, the awful snowy weather for travelling, and not the most comfy of beds! But who cares – it was just wondrous joy to be part of something so positive in the URC. Here I am with some new friends, Naomi and Elijah – not the humans, but the teddy mascots (significant names!) for Northern Synod, though I also made some new human friends too!




My respect for Youth Assembly was encapsulated in one resolution. By reputation, I was expecting resolutions about really significant matters of peace and justice – how we care for the planet, and for each other, for how often Youth Assembly has led the Way by tackling difficult issues and then challenging the whole denomination. Instead, here I was listening to a debate whether URC Youth should sell their own branded merchandise. One might dismiss this as a trivial waste of time. However, it was discussed with such wisdom, and recognition that all lifestyle choices have consequences, whether social, spiritual, economic, and in Church  – ecumenical. We heard concern about the pressure on young people to buy any branded products – surely this resolution is but reinforcing the pressure. Concern was expressed that for merchandise to be affordable, it would be produced in terrible employment conditions by workers on unjust wages. But to be ethically-produced they would be at a price beyond that of many young people. So they could be divisive. Some speakers talked of the value of having clothing that gave identity to people, a sense of belonging, and already young people wore clothing that linked them with one group or another. Others saw this as a symbol of exclusion and being part of a closed club. There was reference to other organisations and denominations who wear uniform or clothes that identify their group, but also those who do not feel they need that identification – stressing the inclusivity of URC Youth – important but fragile. Perhaps a compromise would be for small scale merchandise like mugs and memory sticks which wouldn’t break the bank! Each point raised was listened to, and received with respect, and in the end, the matter was transferred to the Children and Youth Department to do further work. However, I was left with a real sense of a group of young people following the commission of Jesus to walk in his steps to be the all-welcoming and inclusive community, respectful of difference and individuality, and yet with a common  identity. What is that? I think it was summed up by the phrase used by Lawrence Moore in his teaching – to be “the Jesus-shaped Church”  – seems a good model all our churches could find!


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