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Thinking About Youth on Vestry

Posted by Sam Lovett on February 15, 2017 at 3:15 PM Comments comments (-1)

Being a vestry member means leading in a community of faith. It means committing yourself to stewardship. It means speaking and acting from your own experience for the benefit of others.

 

The Office of Youth Ministry recently surveyed diocesan youthworkers about the experience of young people serving on local parish vestry boards. We heard stories about churches who make a concerted effort to identify, train, and mentor young leaders to be full vestry members—their actions are creating broad-reaching and powerful outcomes.

 

Giving young people an equal voice in church management is an empowering life-moment for a young person, and can be a transformative event for the congregation. The Vestry Resource Guide points out that “each generation sees the world differently because it was formed by different major world events and cultural changes.” Having that variety of perspectives at the table can help a church respond to changes in your wider community and around the world.

 

But what we learned from diocesan youthworkers that youth-on-vestry success begins with identifying strong candidates and giving them the ongoing support and mentorship. All of these ingredients are necessary in order for a young person (with no board experience) to contribute in this new environment.

 

Certainly, this process looks different in each church community. In any event, it might be in your vestry’s interest to start thinking about which high school students are attending worship regularly, who among them is involved in community events, and who has the availability to attend regular vestry meetings. Also think about who are the adults in the community who have a gift for coaching and mentorship.

 

The perspective of young people is important to the faith-life of any community. All people benefit when young people have a role in shaping our guiding principles.

 

What are your suggestions for how to involve young people with church vestries? Best practices for making youth participation a positive experience for the entire vestry membership?

 

Lenten Reflection: To Confess and Confide

Posted by H. Mark Smith on March 4, 2016 at 12:55 AM Comments comments (0)

(The following is a guest entry from the Youth Ministry from Church of the Holy Spirit, Mattapan.  Thanks to Dominique Bocanegra, their youth minister, for permission to use.)


Teenagers need a safe place to confess and confide.


“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed."James 5:16


Often teenagers who struggle with temptation have nowhere to confess and confide. They feel trapped by these temptations but a healthy youth group can create a safe space for teenagers to open up and talk honestly about their struggles. Of course this doesn't mean they should confess every sin to everyone. But it does mean that they should have a handful of others who know their struggles and can pray for and encourage them to walk in victory over those sins.


Many of our youth went on a retreat this year where they had the opportunity to open up with others about their struggles. As a church, we should strive to help keep youth group a space for open and honest dialogue; a place for the opportunity to know, live, share and own their faith with their peers.


- Dominique Bocanegra, Church of the Holy Spirit, Mattapan

 

Reflections on Training: Youth Mental Health First Aid

Posted by Sam Lovett on January 12, 2016 at 10:55 AM Comments comments (0)

“The goals of Youth Mental Health First Aid are twofold—to teach members of the public how to respond in a mental health emergency with youth and young adults and to offer support to a young person who appears to be in emotional distress,” was the opening message of this weekend's training.

 

A large group of youth workers, parents, priests, healthcare providers, non-profit workers, and other professionals gathered for a course in Youth Mental Health First Aid sponsored by the Office of Youth Ministry and Grace Church, Medford. The training focused on how to provide initial help to young people experiencing mental health problems such as depression, anxiety disorders, psychosis, and substance use disorders.

 

 

Based on the CPR model, the training included various role plays and case studies that helped us to consider different situations of concern, to assess patterns of behavior, and to think about how to help young people engage appropriate mental health services.

 

Part of the training's focus is enabling participants to help others break through the stigma surrounding mental health challenges that many people experience. The course instructor stressed that it is not our job as mental health first aiders to diagnose mental illness. It is our job to notice what is happening in a young person’s life and to help process what we see with youth and parents and others who care about the young person.

 

For example, part of our commitment to good mental health includes not being afraid to talk with young people about their behaviors. Asking “what helps you manage your stress,” or “what helps you to cope with a tough situation,” are simple questions that can help lead toward increased self-realization and self-esteem. Your concern and interest models good behavior in a way that shows without instructing.

 

“This training is about doing the best we can for young people with the current models that have proven most effective,” were some of the closing words of the training. We left Grace Church with a strong working understanding of mental health that will help us work more confidently in our respective communities.

 

If you are interested in attending future trainings, please contact the office of Youth Ministry and ask to be notified when a training is scheduled.

Youth Voices Need to Be Heard

Posted by H. Mark Smith on November 19, 2015 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (0)

The months of December 2015 through April 2016 will be a critical time for the future of our diocese. That time has been set aside as our collective “listening period."

 

What is heard in this process will shape our collective focus and priorities in mission through 2020 and beyond.

 

It would be a shame if we went forward without benefit of your young people’s perspective. A series of six public forums are set up across the diocese in January and February. Consider organizing an outing for your young people to attend one of these sessions with others from your congregation. To get you started, a set of tools are available to help you prepare them to participate fully. View resource>>

Talking Shop: #AdventWord A Prayerful Activity

Posted by Sam Lovett on November 17, 2015 at 12:25 PM Comments comments (0)

The Brothers of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist in Cambridge, MA organize an annual GLOBAL advent calendar for the Anglican Communion which draws thousands of participants.

 

Your youth may enjoy this opportunity to see and learn about Anglicans from around the world. This social media connected activity which incorporates creative and meditative thinking could be great project for a church group to do together.

 

On each day of Advent, we are invited to meditate about the significance of a certain special word (see worksheet). Post a picture inspired by your meditations to facebook, twitter, or instagram with the hashtag #AdventWord. We can also sign up for a daily meditation digest at the Anglican Communion AdventWord website.

 

We have prepared a pre-Advent planning worksheet that your group can do together. The hope is that this activity will help all participants consider and embody the special meaning of Advent in a supportive and shared environment. View the worksheet>>

Talking Shop: Thinking About Programs

Posted by Sam Lovett on October 20, 2015 at 10:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Are you thinking about adding new structure to your church youth program this fall? Whether you are creating something new, or fine-tuning well-established programming, here are some thoughts to help steer your planning, adapted from resources offered by Elizabeth Barker Ring, a consultant for formation and leadership in the Episcopal Diocese of Maine:

 

1.) Keep flexibility in mind. Your curriculum should serve as a helping-hand in the process of forming and asking open-ended, invitational questions. The process of making and asking of questions together helps young people build a community of trust with each other.


2.) Be mindful to places where you can center your programs in prayer. Think of prayer as an invitation to youth to lay what is on their hearts and minds on the table without needing to discuss it. The prayer can stem from a piece of scripture from the lectionary, or an invitation to some shared action in the community.


3.) Start with whatever is on the hearts and minds of the youth; this way they can respond to you confidently from the fullness of their faith.

 

"Talking Shop" is a regular feature produced by the Office of Youth Ministry, sharing information on resources of particular use to youth ministers, mentors, and other youthworkers. Do you have a great idea to share? Maybe a new find or longtime favorite go-to resource? Email us or comment below!

 

10 Ways Well-Meaning White Teachers Bring Racism Into Our Schools [and Churches!]

Posted by H. Mark Smith on September 17, 2015 at 7:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Originally written for classroom teachers, this important article addresses an issue that is just as important for youth workers, youth ministers, Christian educators, and others working with young people in church.

 

The author, Jamie Utt, says in his introduction, "most White teachers mean well and have no intention of being racist. Yet as people who are inscribed with Whiteness, it is possible for us to act in racist ways no matter our intentions. Uprooting racism from our daily actions takes a lifetime of work." The article goes on to identify common ways White adults working with young people of color can shut down communications with them and, as importantly, things that can be done to more fully embody the wide and inclusive love of Christ in our work with all young people.

 

This thought provoking article is a fertile source for personal reflection and prayer. It could also be used as the centerpiece of an important meeting topic among a team of youth workers, or between youth workers and young people or parish leadership and parents.

 

It's an important resource for all who interact with youth in places of learning. Read the whole article here.

"Talking Shop" is a regular feature produced by the Office of Youth Ministry, sharing information on resources of particular use to youth ministers, mentors, and other youthworkers. Do you have a great idea to share? Maybe a new find or longtime favorite go-to resource? Email us or comment below!