Table of contents
Confessions of Faith.……………………………………………..…………………..….5
The future of the General Assembly………………………...………………….14
Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking…………….………………….…..26
A year as moderator…………………………………………………………….……...30
Youth reps………………………………………………………………………….………..38 7.1
Backpack appeal—packed with love……………………………...…..42
Ready, steady, promote……..…………………………………………......44
Intergenerational work & ministry with the Guild………...…...46
Scottish Youth Parliament………………………………………………….…….…..52
This report aims to elaborate on the content of the blue book report where necessary, and provide a space for the youth representatives to report on the projects that they have been involved in since the conclusion of the Assembly. This year, under the very capable guidance of Hannah Mary Goodlad, the youth reps were split into 4 task groups to focus on taking forward the topics of discussion at the assembly. These groups were: Promoting NYA, Child Exploitation, Climate Justice and Intergenerational work. Our youth reps took forward these focuses with enthusiasm and commitment that was inspiring to witness, and have accomplished a great deal over the last few months, the details of which can be found in this report. First, this report will present a summary of the discussions that took place at last summer's National Youth Assembly. This year, the main discussion topics at the NYA were, Confessions of Faith, Climate Justice and Child Exploitation with a fringe discussion taking place on the Future of the General Assembly. Each discussion was approached slightly differently designed to make the most of the topic.
Confessions of Faith
The first of our discussions was around our Confessions of Faith and in particular whether they need updating. The desired outcome from this session was for delegates to have more of an understanding of the confessions of faith to which the Church of Scotland subscribe and to consider if they are still helpful when articulating our faith or if they need to be updated. Alongside this we wanted to see if there was a collection of statements that emerged that the NYA felt important and valid to them as a collective group in 2015 so creating an NYA statement of faith. 2.1 Approach to the discussion Two theologians, Andrew Kimmitt and Rev Dr Frances Henderson addressed the Assembly regarding the Westminster Confession of Faith, the place of theology within our churches and how we confess our faith as a Church of Scotland. Delegates then adjourned to their small groups with a set of questions to stimulate discussion and to generate a set of statements. With appreciation of the wide variety of beliefs and theological thinking amongst the delegates it is of no surprise that a large number of statements were collected. These statements were grouped into six main themes; Humanity, the Trinity, Jesus, the Christian Journey, the Life of the Church, and Scripture. Each statement was brought to the Assembly and discussed before a vote was taken as to whether it was something each delegate would hold as central to their beliefs. 2.2 Undertaking the discussion Just as the General Assembly is made up from Christians from all walks of life, the delegates attending the NYA are no different and truly reflect the â€˜broadnessâ€™ of our Kirk. This provided a discussion rooted in knowledge and full of insight, reflecting the broad spectrum of theological thinking. The 5
discussion was engaging and fruitful, with many delegates voicing a wish to have similar discussions at a local level. Many delegates were surprised by aspects of the Westminster Confession, namely the parts that have been removed over time and how long it took for some of those parts to be removed. While there were delegates that thought it is important to confess our faith through written documentation for accessibility, unity and showing our history, there were others for whom it is not important as it becomes outdated, can be too specific and has the danger of not being inclusive.
2.3 Small group discussion feedback The discussion in small groups centred around a few questions; some of the reflections of these are recorded below. 2.3.1 Is it important to confess our faith through written documentation? If so, why? Yes, because:
it’s accessible – others see what we believe.
it’s a barrier against extremism?
of unity and binding.
it’s a way of showing our history and documenting where we are in different points of history.
It’s an organic process; living document that grows and develops with the time.
it is not all-inclusive and some people won’t accept things to do with theology that have been written by non-theologians.
times are always changing and by the time things have been passed they will already be outdated.
of formality and long, complex and old language – creed is more accessible and relevant.
too specific – could be divisive.
it’s Confessions versus the Bible and creed versus Confessions.
2.3.2 Were you surprised by anything in the Westminster Confession?
Some of the parts removed were quite shocking.
Obvious opposition of Catholicism.
How long it took to amend the points about Catholics – 1980s.
The predestination part of the Westminster Confession is simply the views of the privileged, who want to say who gets into Heaven.
Can’t date infidels – way we always operated – say “this will be difficult”, but not “wrong”.
Free speech and action – culturally allowed to do what we want. Muslim faith is stricter – sometimes puts barriers in life.
Should be more preparation for those becoming Elders, before they sign up to it.
2.3.3 What are the important aspects of faith as a young person in the Church of Scotland?
We are all children of God and we are all valuable, no matter how you contribute to society/economy.
Belief in God – he is starting point – he is grace.
Grace – don’t matter where we are in journey with God – church still accepts us now.
Belief in Jesus – son of God.
We are justified by our faith as opposed to by what good deeds we do.
Understanding that Jesus was a gift to us first and foremost to 8
cleanse us of our sins and then also to understand that he is also an example of how we should live our lives as Christians.
Forgiveness and love. God loves everyone – we should too.
Congregation. Total inclusion in church family - community. Safe, caring place – feeling accepted. To know that people take your faith seriously.
Adult role models – people you can relate to: Minister; Youth Worker/Leaders; other, slightly older young people. Mentor (outside family). Several adult relationships.
Learning your place in the world. Personal development/discovery, self-image i.e. gender, sexual orientation. Building confidence.
The substance of faith, the key to being Christian, shouldn’t change with time.
Bible Study – diversity in topics.
2.4 Statements of faith While it proved impossible in the short time we had to agree on a set of statements that would form an NYA statement of faith the list of statements created, discussed and voted upon is given here as a guide. 2.4.1 Humanity ď‚ˇ
We believe that all people are equal in the eyes of God and are all God's children, regardless of ability, gender, race, ethnicity, background or sexual orientation. 63% for, 37% against
We confess God's love through example. We are living expressions of God's grace. 83% for, 4% against, 13% abstained
We believe that an important role of the Church is to stand up and speak out for the marginalised because God is on the side of the oppressed. 78% for, 12% against, 10% abstained
We believe in the Holy Trinity. Discussion on this point centred around the language used to describe the persons of the trinity. A vote was taken as to whether to include the words Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 45% for, 48% against, 7% abstained
We believe that God is love and God loves unconditionally. 86% for, 4% against, 7% abstained
We believe that God is our judge and by God's grace offers forgiveness. 82% for, 8% against, 10% abstained
We believe that God is all knowing, all powerful and all loving. 80% for, 7% against, 13% abstained
We believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God.
We believe that we are not saved through our own power, but through the loving sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Discussion on this point centred around the language used to describe through what it is we are saved. The other options considered were, through the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ, through our faith in Jesus Christ and through our relationship with Jesus Christ.
We believe that Jesus died and rose to give us eternal life.
2.4.4 The Christian Journey.
We believe that the Christian faith is built upon a relationship and 11
continual journey with God.
We believe that as sisters and brothers in Christ we should love and support one another on our faith journeys.
We believe that each Christian is at liberty to worship God in such a way that is authentic to them and no faith journey should be judged inferior to any other.
2.4.5 Life of the Church
We believe that the sacraments are the practice and affirmation of our faith and a sign of the Holy Spirit among us.
We believe that we are part of a world-wide ecumenical community of faith.
We believe that no single denomination or interpretation of the word of Christ is superior to any other and would actively denounce any actions made of sectarianism.
We believe that the Holy Bible is the inspired word of the Living God and is a fundamental source of our beliefs.
We believe that the Word of God as it appears in the Bible is open to interpretation and that a diversity of faithful interpretations can exist together.
The future of the General Assembly
The discussion on the Future of the General Assembly was an evening event, where the Assembly was addressed by Rev Dr Derek Browning who was representing the Assembly Arrangements Committee.
3.1 Approach to the discussion In order for delegates to get the most out of this discussion, the assembly was split into people who had been to the GA before and those who had not. The discussion with delegates who were more unfamiliar with the GA was facilitated by the moderator, Hannah Mary, while the discussion with those who had been before was facilitated both by the clerk, Catriona Muckart and Andrew Kimmitt, who is currently training for ministry. 3.2 Discussion with those who had been to GA before Of the 33 people involved in this discussion only 7 of them had heard of the General Assembly before they were selected as a youth rep. 14
3.2.1 Choosing to go to the GA as a youth rep There was a general consensus that before attending, they had little or no idea of what to expect with regards to the week. Attendance had been on the recommendation of their minister or others in their congregation and delegates had gone out of curiosity or because “obviously something positive was coming out of it”. 3.2.2 The Blue Book When asked whether the blue book had been their first experience of anything connected with the General Assembly, delegates mainly responded yes, before discussing the blue book in more detail. Delegates felt that the blue book was difficult to read, especially if they hadn't been informed previously about the councils and committees, as it was hard to see how everything was connected. There was a suggestion that a visual representation of the structure of the church would be a useful resource for the blue book to include. It was also found to be very interesting amongst delegates, many of whom had put a lot of effort into engaging with the content as much as possible. Highlighters and dictionaries proved useful tools for this process! Overall delegates found the blue book very complex but also really interesting. 3.3.3 First impressions of the GA In terms of how their expectations of GA were realised, delegates generally found the ‘pomp and ceremony’ of the first day to be slightly overwhelming and some felt that the youth delegates were ‘put on show’ for the Saturday proceedings before ‘getting shoved up the back of the room’. However the worship experience at GA was spoken of very highly. One delegate who was used to smaller worship settings described worshipping with that number of people ‘almost magical’. 15
3.3.4 New Commissioners The discussion then progressed onto talking about what delegates thought about what actually happens at the General Assembly. There were observations that for new commissioners, it was potentially much harder to speak in debates since the process is quite intricate and requires commissioners to have a good understanding of what's going on. There were suggestions that commissioners should have access to similar kinds of 'prep sessions' that the youth delegates do, and that this could make a huge difference in terms of the range of voices that are heard throughout the week. 3.3.5 Accessibility The timing of GA as being a potential issue was also raised. Delegates noted that for students, teachers and people who can't get time off work, having the General Assembly meant that there are whole groups of people who would like to attend but for whom it's not feasible. There was a general feeling that more could be done to ensure that the GA is made as inclusive as possible, with parenting, zero hours contracts and inflexible work hours being cited as a few of the barriers that can prevent people from going. One delegate suggested a crĂ¨che as one method of making the experience more accessible for parents with young children. Another delegate highlighted that having expenses paid in retrospect made things challenging for them especially with having to wait for several weeks before being reimbursed. Some also have found they get half way through the week and then canâ€™t afford anything. 3.3.6 Accountability There was concern amongst delegates that the GA was making decisions that were not being properly implemented at presbytery level. One gave 16
the example of congregations in their area that still don't allow women to be ordained as elders, despite that element of church law being one that changed many years ago. Delegates also noted how important this function of the General Assembly was, in making sure that decisions were put into action across the wider church. 3.3.7 Cross Council Collaboration There was much appreciation for how the GA provided a platform for all the councils and committees of the church to come together and work collaboratively, as well as being a place where the church can actively engage with current societal issues. There was a shared concern amongst delegates that the GA should aim to be as inclusive as possible. 3.3.8 A necessary part of the Church of Scotland By way of closing the discussion, delegates were asked if they thought being invested in the General Assembly was a necessary part of belonging to the Church of Scotland. On the whole it was felt that more information about the General Assembly could be provided at a local level, so that it felt more in sync with the rest of the wider church.
3.3 Discussion with those who had not been to GA before 3.2.1 What is your view of the GA?
More like parliament, very traditional. Debates are very open which is positive.
Some had never heard of it, very little feedback from ministers to congregation.
It feels that it is too high up a level to process feedback from congregations.
Not a very good representation of all the churches
Very stuffy and archaic.
Fascinating and interesting. Good way to discover different views in the church.
3.2.2 How would you like to see decisions made within your own church?
Structures work well at the moment. Elders and Kirk sessions make all the big decisions but it would be good if the minister opened it up for discussion and invited congregation along.
At age 16 wasn’t able to vote for new minister. We should involve all ages at decisions. Enable all ages to have a voice.
Presbytery and congregation should be connected much better – not just through presbytery elder. Split big presbyteries up and make them smaller. All welcome at presbytery.
Getting congregation to have more ownership
Kirk Session are in charge of far too much. 18
Anyone can attend Kirk Session and have an input as it stands. Only elders can vote.
3.2.3 If you had to design a time for 800 ministers and elders to get together and discuss big decisions for the Church how would you go about doing this?
Only two topics at GA, continuous flow of issues. Have it in March so that people don’t fall asleep.
40 people debating instead of 800.
GA meets in teams, comes to a group consensus. A representative from each team meets and have a discussion and you keep doing this until there is only 2 left to have final discussion.
Venue should be moved round the country to make it more open, business should have shorter and more concise reports. Take out the fluffy nonsense and get down to the nitty gritty. Only wider church issues to be debated. 19
May is a bad time for weather and exams. Early spring or autumn is more convenient.
Rolling twitter feed on what moderator is saying, so even though you are not part of the debate, you can comment on it.
No stage, all on the same floor.
4.1 Approach to the discussion This discussion was deliberately structured in a different way to others. A panel was invited, comprising of lawyer John Sturrock, Tom Ballantyne from Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, John Cape from iPower, Valerie Brown from Christian Aid Scotland, Sally Foster-Fulton the convenor of the Church and Society council and Callum Scott, an exploration geoscientist. A discussion format modelled upon â€˜Question Timeâ€™ was held whereby delegates had an hour to ask the panel questions. Questions from the delegates touched upon many issues including how the ideology of combatting climate change compares to the reality and what the responsibility of Christians is to tackle climate change. Following time in small groups there was then a full group discussion focused around the views the delegates had heard from the panel.
4.2 Was there anything the panel said that you were surprised about?
They were quite supportive of nuclear energy
Renewables haven’t received the subsidy they need
The panel had a lack of answers – trying to avoid the question – wanted to talk about own projects.
Rather than being surprised by what the panel said, we were surprised by how they weren’t aware of their surroundings – a room filled with natural light but full of lights.
4.3 What should our local churches be doing to act on climate change?
Consider the use of hymn books, printed order of service sheets and church newsletters/magazines.
Consider church manses – should we be selling off manses that are “un-eco” and developing better ecologically sound manses? Retrofitting housing with insulation – better for environment, better for fuel bill; tackles fuel poverty, creates jobs.
Church buildings should be more efficient. Building use – joining congregations.
Recycle (obvious stuff), home refuse and up-cycling old clothes. Presbyteries pressure local authorities for better and comprehensive recycling bins (including student flats). What resources used in church are recycled?
Environmental evangelism. Educate: older people in congregation, community, and Sunday Schools.
Re-evaluate and remarket COSY Ethical Guide – bring it back! (update the bank section on Co-op – no longer ethical!). 22
Skill sharing. Intergenerational project with the lovely Guild: teach us how to sew/fix things.
Community projects. Litter pick.
Mooncups for all women!
Benefits of cloth nappies over disposables.
Support Farmers Markets and food co-ops. Invest in local farms and buying local produce.
4.4 What should the Church of Scotland be doing at a national level to act on climate change?
Raising awareness of the affects of climate justice
Campaign to inform other churches
Encourage churches to become eco-congregations
Encourage research of movements to support climate justice
Encourage individuals to lobby MPs 23
Giving worse off countries our advances – stuff we know
Looking into carbon footprint of General Assembly
Encourage worship outdoors in Summer months
Initiate walk to church weeks
Campaign for green energy subsidies
4.5 Do you think the Church of Scotland should divest from fossil fuels? This topic caused a very lively debate amongst delegates, with some passionately arguing for full divestment as quickly as possible, while others were passionately arguing for consideration to be given to those who work in the industry and would therefore suffer as a result of any divestment and others felt they didn’t know enough to be able to make an informed decision. “While I personally feel very uneducated to vote on this, the church gains money from shares it has in companies. If that’s a source of money, that might impact us. I’d like to know more about where our money is invested. If it’s in pensions, we might not be able to get that money. So I feel I can’t vote on it.” “If there’s no money, is that at the expense of the church and spreading the message?” “I know it’s quite tricky for us to talk about, but on a moral level, climate change is the biggest challenge mankind has ever faced. We, as a church, need to decide if it’s morally acceptable for us to be partly responsible. More people will die every single year. We need to decide if we are morally comfortable with being in that position. We’re not just going to end everything to do with fossil fuels. The divestment from fossil fuels frees us 24
money for us to invest in renewables. We need a transition. If we take that money out these industries that are crashing now, where people are losing jobs, we’re creating a much more secure investment for the church, for decades to come.” “I care about money. But we’re told in the Bible that we shouldn’t be ruled by two masters. Arguing over what we should invest our money in - it’s even more masters we have to bow down to.” “We seem to be a very materialistic society. Being a Christian is not about how much money we’ll get, it’s about protecting our planet. It’s about talking a stand on what we believe in – we believe in God, and he wants us to take care of our planet.” “I feel like there could be a balance, because yes we should stand up and be radical, but we are also called to be careful stewards; and it’s our finances, so although it’s important to divest, we have to do it with care and consideration that we’re not going to lose all the money people have given to the church, so we need to do it carefully, and with thought, and ultimately with Jesus at our heart.” On a vote being taken as to whether the Church of Scotland should divest their money from the fossil industry 35% voted for full divestment, 10% for no divestment, 37% for partial divestment and 18% abstained.
Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking
5.1 Approach to the discussion For the discussion on Child Exploitation we welcomed Dr Katie Bradley from the World Mission Council and Euan Fraser from Stop the Traffik and the Scottish Churches Anti-Human Trafficking group. They provided us with a very detailed and informative presentation, which was followed after time in small groups, by a lively discussion.
5.2 What part do we play in the UK in furthering child exploitation? “Leading by example - some churches have still got women not being accepted as elders, or attitudes and that needs to change for us to lead by example.” “There is a problem in the lack of transparency in our supply chains - people aren’t being deliberately bad, but it’s a lack of understanding about what our choices mean, and needing more understand about where our goods come from.” “A question that came up in our Small Group was that we spoke about the fact that people who’re trafficked are sometimes sold on multiple times – do we know what our government is doing when we discover people have been trafficked here? What are the consequences for those people?” “We were talking about the importance of breaking barriers. Like people not wanting to know about mental health. The people trafficked are told they’re not worthy.” “I’m a Police Officer, and if we don’t know what’s going on, we can’t do anything about it. That’s what happens if we, as a church, aren’t engaging and getting involved in what’s going on, and passing it on to the Police.” 5.3 How can the Church of Scotland help the situation in the UK? “We just need our ministers to talk about it - to stand up on a Sunday and say: here’s the issue, and here’s what we’re going to do about it as Christians. The minute our ministers start not hiding away from us and telling us the truth, the better. Our ministers are the best people to get the message through.” “One thing is to make ourselves even more a part of the community, so if someone does go missing or we think something’s happened, we’ve seen these people, so we’re aware and we act as a supporting network.” 27
“Constant vigilance.” “We could use the Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office, and lobby government, because people earlier were talking about the lack of transparency, so if we could get companies to realise it’s one of the responsibilities to their consumers. For example, if you go on the Tradecraft website, each product has a beautiful story about the people it’s made by.” “We were thinking about having a Human Trafficking Awareness Week, similar to Christian Aid Week, making people aware of what happens.” “One way is to work more interfaith-ly with people coming here, so we have a wider community presence, so we can notice things, and be there for people.” “Speaking about this kind of thing in church – people find it sometimes difficult to relate to the Bible, and I think it’s important to focus on the Bible, and relate it to today, so they can put it into practice. With the trafficking, we can relate it back to what Jesus did, and that links in really well to sermons.” “In our Group, we wondered if it was possible to lobby for stricter laws? We read a case study about a girl in a brothel, who was picked up and sent back to her home the next day - and her home was a brothel.” 5.4 Should we educate traffickers? “We have these support networks in place for identifying people who are victims of human trafficking; I’m assuming that in certain cases, if you can identify the traffickers, then maybe, I know that some people will find it very difficult, but just inviting them to conversation. I know that what they’re doing morally is awful, but maybe rather than automatically going down the role of justice, saying help us understand, and once we do, we can find the best route to take.” 28
“We’re talking about giving support to victims of trafficking, and showing grace. It’s all very psychological. As people who can put others through that, the traffickers also need time to work through that, and someone to talk to, so they don’t feel the need to do it any more.” “As I understand it, it’s mostly the big criminal gangs that are mostly responsible, so if you catch one individual, it’s very difficult to change the perception of the full gang. I don’t have any idea of how you get to the head of the gang, and eradicate them.”
A year as moderator—Hannah Mary Goodlad
This has been the best, the busiest and the most challenging year of my life. It was a privilege to lead the National Youth Assembly (NYA) in 2015 and has been a further honour to lead the elected team of youth reps throughout the remainder of the term as we work towards improvement and positive change throughout many sectors of Kirk life and Scottish society. Looking back on everything we have managed to achieve, the team has a lot to be proud of it. We have been a dedicated and committed team that has put our all into everything that we have tackled. And I’m sure, that if we all had enough energy left (which I certainly don’t) we would do it all again! 6.1 Strategy My strategy for the year as Youth Moderator has been: Engagement, Activism, Change - in that order. The NYA is vital for engagement. It serves a purpose to inspire us, equip us and set us upon a course of activism to bring about positive change in our own communities and Churches. It is then the team and I’s responsibility to put that activism into action. Our action is fuelled by a Christ induced desire for justice at our hearts. Change is the end product. We have strived for change in four areas this year:
Promotion of the National Youth Assembly
Intergenerational work 30
In this supplementary report you will be able to read more about each of these specific areas. My year as Moderator has primarily consisted in providing direction and leadership for the youth rep team on our various projects, however, I have managed to fit a fair number of other engagements throughout the year. What follows are some of my highlights: 6.2 Travel I have been fortunate in my year to have been invited upon various trips. The Right Rev Angus Morrison and I travelled out to Egypt at the start of 2016. One of the highlights of our trip was visiting an old Church of Scotland building that still serves as a Church. Part of the building is now the St Andrews Refugee Service (StARS) in the centre of Cairo. StARS help 11,000 refugees every year by educating, providing legal aid and offering counselling services. Funds from the Church of Scotland Guild were donated to build this much needed project. The Moderator and I were so impressed by the great work being carried out in the name of Christ at StARS that we were inspired to support the organisation in our â€˜Moderators Challengeâ€™.
Other trips have included a visit out to Brussels to visit the EU Commission, EU Parliament and the Conference of European Churches ahead of the upcoming EU referendum, a pilgrimage to Israel and a visit to London. All of these have been wonderful opportunities to promote the Youth Assembly at national and international platforms. In my last trip of the year I will be heading out to Bosnia in June to visit the village of Srebrenica. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the genocide â€“ the worst crime on European soil since the Second World War. More than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were systematically murdered because of who they were. I am looking forward to the trip, which I know will prove to be one of great reflection.
6.3 Moderators Challenge As previously said the Moderator and I were so impressed by the great work being carried out in the name of Christ at StARS that we were inspired to support the organisation in our ‘Moderators Challenge’. To that effect, on the 16th of April we donned our best lycra and cycled around Loch Leven in Kinross. We are still collecting donations and would gratefully accept anything you can give: https://mydonate.bt.com/events/ moderatorschallenge16/291450. To date we have raised just over £6000 with gift aid which we know will be put to good use out in Cairo. Thank you so much to everyone who got involved. 33
6.4 Climate Justice Campaign As someone from the corporate world where collaboration is vital, it was a surprise to me that there werenâ€™t more synergies between the five councils of the Church. To that end, I suggested an idea that it would be good for various councils to work together on a specific, national campaign to engage and unite as many Church of Scotland members as possible. With the COP21 just around the corner, and climate change having been one of the discussions at NYA 2015 it seemed natural for the campaign to focus on climate Justice. Councils all wrote articles, the Church took part in the climate march and a national pledge campaign was launched. Hundreds of people from across
the UK, from Shetland to London, sent in their commitments of what they were going to do to tackle climate change in their own lives. The engagement was excellent and it was a cross council strategy that worked. Perhaps in the future we will see more cross council campaigns and new ways of working within the Church of Scotland will be developed. There was also of course the Church of Scotland delegation to Paris that carried the COP21 Ego Congregation Baton to the summit. It was important to us as a team to have NYA representation upon the delegation. I was delighted that we managed to secure funding for Duncan Logie and Rachel Walker to be a NYA presence within that party. It was wonderful to be able to follow their journey from Edinburgh to Paris and for the National Youth Assembly to have an opportunity to speak up and out about Climate Justice at an international level.
6.5 Meeting with the First Minister In February of this year a delegation from the Church of Scotland had a meeting with the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon. Upon the agenda were various topics and they were very diverse. Topics of conversation covered Religious Freedom, Refugee crisis, new powers for Scotland, Youth Mental Health issues and the Oil and Gas crisis that is engulfing the North East of Scotland currently. It was open and honest discussion and it was pleasure to meeting her. It is important for these meetings between Church and State to continue as it helps to highlight the value of each to both. 36
6.6 Life and Work column I was approached to have a monthly in Life and Work column. It’s a great outlet for getting the profile of the Youth Assembly raised. From a personal point, I have loved the rigour of writing a monthly piece. Topics have ranged from fishing to feminism, science to secularism. Writing, unlike the spoken word, cements ideas into one’s mind in a unique way. I have learned a lot about my own faith in the challenge of writing about it. It’s been a wonderful experience and one that I have learned a great deal from.
Each year 18 people are selected from attendees at the youth assembly to serve alongside the NYA moderator and clerk as youth reps. Their role is to represent young people and the NYA in particular through the year, by attending presbytery meetings, continuing to work on things that came up at NYA and encouraging more young people to get involved. Of these 9 are chosen to represent NYA at the General Assembly alongside the NYA moderator.
7.1 Climate Justice—Catriona Munro Through the year as youth reps, we have been working to raise awareness of the global climate change issue. As young people of the church we feel passionately about climate justice, as the rising global temperature will have irreversible damage to our planet in our future. In our role as young people in the church, we feel we have a responsibility to stop this damage and to get everyone working together to protect God’s creation. During the week of action on climate justice in November, we teamed up with other Councils to launch the “Speak Out” campaign. This involved us making pledges to change our daily routines and habits in a bid to slow 38
down global warming. We then took the campaign further afield and received an overwhelming response from congregations, groups and individuals up and down the country. From individuals pledging to alter the way they travel and recycle, to churches monitoring their energy use, it is encouraging to have such strong support for this cause. The week of action on climate justice ended for us in Edinburgh where a group of us attended an ecumenical service to give thanks for Godâ€™s creation and to pray for hope for the future. From this service, we joined with 8000 other people to march though the centre of the city, declaring our demand for change. All the work weâ€™ve undertaken thus far has been documented and collated in a short information leaflet. A copy of this leaflet will be sent out to every presbytery where it is hoped that our work might inspire further action across the country.
7.2 COP21â€”Duncan Logie For many Christians it is their faith in God who creates and sustains that led them to Paris in late November through early December for COP21. I, with the help of Wellington Church, had the wonderful opportunity to accompany the Rev. Sally Foster-Fulton (Convener of the Church and Society Council), Sheena Wurthmann (Chair of Eco-Congregation Scotland), Adrian Shaw (Climate Officer for the Church of Scotland), and Rachel Walker (a fellow NYA Youth Representative and MSYP) to Paris to share the story of the Eco-Congregation Baton and the work of the church in Scotland in working for climate justice. Due to the Paris terror attack two weeks previously, we were ready to for many schedule changes and extra security in the city. This meant we could not join with hundreds of thousands of people around the world who marched for climate justice on the Sunday before the conference began. However we did make it to three very worthwhile events.
The first was a meeting of pilgrims from around the world in Notre-Dame des Blancs-Manteaux Church. We heard the stories of about 30 groups who had come to Paris to demand that a deal was made. Some had walked from the border of Germany and Denmark, others had cycled from England. We heard their stories and we all sang the songs that they sang on their climate pilgrimages. It was a truly moving service. The next day we attended a multi-faith service at the Basilica of St. Denis, the oldest church in Paris, with reflections from various faith leaders on climate justice. After the service we went across the street to a press conference organized by the WCC. We were fortunate enough to be joined an envoy of the French President and Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. They were presented with a petition with 1780528 signatures on it calling for a strong, fair deal that helps poor countries adapt to their changing climate. The whole experience showed the amazing work that faith group around the world are doing to create a more just and environmentally sustainable world. In doing so giving praise to our Lord.
7.3 Backpack appeal—packed with love—Gigha Lennox Since the discussion on Child Trafficking and Exploitation at the National Youth Assembly, as well as the growing refugee crisis, the Youth Reps decided we wanted to make a statement to send our support to refugee children around the world. Having discussions on the many ways we could help, as well as what we felt these children may be missing, we came to the conclusion the most important thing a child can possess is an education, as well as the required tools to achieve this. After some thinking, discussions and seeking advice and guidance from the support we have within the Church of Scotland, we came up with ‘The Backpack Appeal – Packed with Love’; with this we felt we could achieve the desired goal to equip refugee children with educational essentials along with sending them love and support through our words and actions. Following the GA & NYA Moderators trip to Cairo and hearing about the work being accomplished there, the NYA Reps felt a strong connection with St Andrews Refugee Service, and also felt a strong calling to help in any way we could. This made it clear to us that we had to select StARS as our chosen charity to send the backpacks to. We are working with Sunday Schools, Youth Groups and Church organisations throughout Scotland to help us succeed in our goals. We 42
have produced a pack containing a Sunday School lesson, a poster, a powerpoint presentation to use in services, a checklist of items and a letter outlining the project. If you would like to get involved and request a pack please email email@example.com. We are also accepting monetary donations to help us with shipping costs and have already received ÂŁ1885 which we are tremendously grateful for. If you would like to donate please visit https://mydonate.bt.com/events/ nyabackpack However, we also wanted to help close to home and following contacting local authorities and organisations we had a response from Pitlochry Refugee Support, excited at the opportunity of receiving backpacks for the children they have in their care. We had a list of childrenâ€™s ages and genders, and as it was a smaller number we decided as a group to each personally choose a child and put together a backpack for them so it had more of a personal touch.
7.4 Ready, Steady, Promote—Callum Scott The main goal for the NYA promoting group is to promote the awareness of the youth assembly and to encourage other young people to attend. Ideas were bounced back and forth at the first youth rep meeting with the group deciding to work on three key actions:
Organise a NYA Burns Supper
Advertise the National Youth Assembly through different media
Talks at local Churches, Schools, and Youth Clubs
We held a Burns Night event on the 6th February 2016 at the NYA planning weekend, located at the Windmill Christian Centre in Arbroath. The group with a little help from some friends put on a night to remember. Approximately 40 young people were welcomed to the event and fed a home cooked three-course meal. We were welcomed to Arbroath by local minister Martin Fair and entertained by John Chalmers reciting Burns. Overall it was a really successful night.
Promotion cards and NYA merchandise (look out for our umbrellas and badges!) were designed and produced to inspire young people to attend the NYA. The promotion cards and flyers will be distributed throughout the next few months at the General Assembly, Heart and Soul and in the lead up to NYA 2016 as members of the group visit various youth groups. Following on from our Climate Justice discussion at NYA 2015, it is hoped to produce some NYA branded water bottles to be given to delegates at NYA 2016, helping them to stay hydrated whilst conserving the planet and promoting NYA. The promotion team decided it was important to use online media sources to help promote the NYA in the Church of Scotland. The NYA facebook page has been regularly updated with information as to what is going on, and regular bible verse images have been created and shared. We are now gearing up to promote NYA 2016 using the videos created at NYA 2015, and would be grateful for any help you can give in sharing them.
7.5 Intergenerational work & ministry with the Guildâ€”Fiona Marshall The Intergenerational group was put together for the purpose of working with The Guild to create the joint report on Intergenerational work in the Church. An interim report will be presented to the Assembly in 2016, with the full report to be presented in 2017. Therefore, most of the work we have done, and will continue to do, as a group has been at meetings and on paper. We look forward to the coming year, working together as a joint group to carry out our survey and write our report for next yearâ€™s Assembly. The following interim report is the culmination of our work together so far.
Intergenerational work and ministry Guild & NYA joint working group 1.
Commend the Guild on welcoming the National Youth Assembly as its first Honorary Group and instruct the Guild, in partnership with the National Youth Assembly, to prepare a report in relation to intergenerational work and ministry, reporting to the General Assembly of 2016. 2.
2.1 The National Youth Assembly (NYA) became an honorary Guild group in Aug 2013. Since then both groups have been seeking further ways to get to know one another better and work together. The issue of intergenerational work and ministry was raised through this process, recognising that the Guild and NYA are two groups within the Kirk who are broadly defined by age. With a stereotyped and often incorrect image, both groups are keen to raise awareness of each otherâ€™s work and highlight the benefits of working collaboratively. Intergenerational work and ministry was a topic for discussion at NYA 2014, enabling the delegates to explore the issue widely and share their experience of intergenerational work in practise. 2.2 Following the instruction of the General Assembly in 2014, a joint working group was established. At its inaugural meeting this working group recognised that the issue of intergenerational working and ministry is far broader than just the Guild and NYA working together, it is an issue for the whole church and is somewhat complex. The group therefore considered it necessary to delay the full report to 2017 with an interim report being produced for 2016. 2.3 Through meeting together it was recognised how little was perhaps known about what each group is and what they do. Therefore we begin 47
here with a summary of each group before introducing our thoughts thus far on intergenerational work and ministry and then outlining our plans for the coming year. 3.
3.1 The Church of Scotland Guild is a movement within the Church of Scotland which invites and encourages both women and men to commit their lives to Jesus Christ and enables them to express their faith in worship, prayer and action. With around 23,000 members, the Guild is one of Scotland's largest voluntary organisations. Although women make up the bulk of the Guild’s membership, increasingly, men are becoming members and taking active roles at local and national levels. The Guild's motto which is taken from Acts 27, verse 23: 'Whose we are and Whom we serve.' 3.2 Never afraid to speak up about difficult subjects, the Guild is known for bringing important and potentially taboo issues to the attention of the wider church, such as human-trafficking or Female Genital Mutilation. Every three years, six projects are selected by the Guild to support with prayer, awareness-raising and fundraising. Since 1969, the Guild has raised over £6,000,000 for projects. 3.3 On a local level, the Guild plays an active part in local congregations across the country, recently described by the Moderator as ‘the backbone of the church’. 4.
National Youth Assembly
4.1 For 17-25 year olds with a connection to the Church of Scotland, the NYA in its simplest form is an annual residential event; a platform for young adults to voice their opinions and actively participate in decision making within the Church of Scotland. The event is a chance for young adults to get together, worship together, learn together, discuss together and party together. However it is also much more than that, it is a family. 48
4.2 ‘NYA introduced me into a community which has allowed me to grow as a person, supported me through dark personal times, and ultimately aided and journeyed along with me in my understanding of faith.’ 4.3 Through being involved in NYA young adults have many opportunities throughout the rest of the year, from taking up a leadership role (moderator, clerk, youth rep, MSYP) to taking part in an international trip, from writing resources and speaking at events to spearheading campaigns, from being on Church councils/committees to helping plan the annual event itself, so the NYA is about far more than a weekend in August. ‘Through being involved in NYA I’ve had so many opportunities to learn, travel and grow and to develop as a leader in a really safe environment.’ 5.
Intergenerational work and ministry
5.1 Traditional patterns of family and community life in Scotland have changed rapidly over the last 50 or 60 years and one consequence of this is that people belonging to one generation often have little regular contact with those of other generations. Attitudes of one generation to another may be more influenced by media stereotypes than by interaction with real people, causing mistrust and a mutual lack of respect and leading to further fragmentation of our society. The Church appears to stand against this trend by being one of the few places in a community where people of all ages can come together. However, much of current church life is geared towards one age group or another, with activities, groups and worship often targeted specifically by age. The church therefore is often currently operating in a multigenerational rather than intergenerational way; there are activities for all ages but they are separate from each other and those from different generations don’t interact in any way, they are more like ships that pass in the night. 5.2 In its simplest form being intergenerational is about interaction between those of different generations. It is important that this isn’t 49
thought of as simply young people meeting old people as there can be significant generational differences between those who are just 10 years apart in age. Intergenerational work intentionally brings people together in purposeful, mutually beneficial activities, promoting greater understanding and respect between generations and thereby contributing significantly to building more cohesive communities. In churches intergenerational work and ministry are also about learning, growing and living in faith together, through shared experiences, recognising each participant for who they are in Christ. 5.3 Well-planned intergenerational work and ministry can be hugely beneficial to congregational life and to the communities that the church seeks to serve, through helping to reduce mistrust and wariness of those of other generations, instead encouraging understanding, respect and mutual development. As the working group moves forward in its work it will be important for all to understand that intergenerational work and ministry is not about a particular programme or add on to existing ministries but it is about an underlying philosophy. 6.
Plans for the future
6.1 Through meeting together as a working group the links between the Guild and NYA will inevitably be strengthened and consolidated with ideas for new partnership working emerging. This will be encouraged but it will not be the sole focus of the group. The group currently aims to produce a full report on intergenerational work and ministry for consideration by the General Assembly 2017. This will involve exploring the issues further, learning from others and seeking examples of intergenerational work in practice. The working group would therefore encourage anyone with a story to tell or idea to share about intergenerational work and ministry to be in contact with them. 6.2
By working together on raising awareness of intergenerational work 50
and ministry the Guild and NYA hope to demonstrate good practice, as well as encouraging congregations, presbyteries and the committees and councils of the Church of Scotland to consider how intergenerational work and ministry might help them build on their current work. The working group is encouraged by the sheer scope of what could be achieved through the Kirk thinking seriously about intergenerational work and ministry and hopes to play its part in kick starting the conversations and encouraging others to take up the baton, creating resources for local congregations to use. Linda Young (National Convener, Church of Scotland Guild) Hannah-Mary Goodlad (Moderator, National Youth Assembly) Eilidh Marks (Associate Secretary, Church of Scotland Guild) Suzi Farrant (Young People and Young Adultâ€™s Development Worker Mission and Discipleship Council)
Scottish Youth Parliament
8.1 SYP and the NYA For the past few years the NYA have had the privilege to be involved in the Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP), a youth led organization whose mission is to improve the lives of young people (14-25) in Scotland whilst remaining politically independent. This is a great opportunity for the church to get its voice heard in the wider community and be seen as politically engaged and active. It has a platform to showcase and inspire all its great work on a national scale. There has been great enthusiasm and interest from other MSYPâ€™s to hear what the church is doing relating to the latest political issues allowing the Church of Scotland to be celebrated and recognized with the younger generations as current and relevant. 8.2 NYA MSYPs Members are democratically elected with 2 MSYPâ€™s from each constituency in Scotland and some representatives from voluntary organisations like ourselves. Serving for 2015/17 are Rachel Walker and Andrew McPherson. Nominations for 2017/19 will be sought from delegates at NYA 2016, with elections happening in March 2017.
Rachel Walker 52
8.3 SYP sittings Each MSYP serves a two year term where they are expected to attend national sittings of which there are 3 each year. At these sittings motions are debated, talks are given by political representatives and subject committees meet to discuss issues relevant to certain issues. Rachel has been active in the Social Justice Committee, focusing her efforts on improving food banks for those who need it. 8.4 SYP campaigns The SYP runs campaigns selected by the MSYPs on issues effecting young people now; previous successes include Votes at 16 and care, fair, share (for young carers) which both involved lobbying parliament to change legislation to improve the lives of our constituents. The current campaign is Speak Your Mind, a campaign focussed on young people’s mental health. The campaign is broadly following three themes, prevention, early intervention and services & support. With the NYA discussing mental health at the 2016 event the MSYPs hope to enable some cross collaboration. “I have been really proud to represent the views of young people in the Church of Scotland on such a big stage and have been supported greatly in anything we try to do which is fantastic. It is a great honour to start this partnership at a time where society and young people are so politically engaged so I am really excited to see where this journey will take us.”– Rachel Walker
The NYA is something that the Church can remain proud of. Young people continue to come to this event, either as a veteran or as a first time delegate. The delegates are quick to form community; a community that loves and cares for its members, a community that constantly evolves according to its needs, a community that is passionate about God, and a community that exists to give young people a voice in the Church. The 2016 NYA will be held at Gartmore House in Stirlingshire and will take place on 19 â€“ 22 August 2016 with discussions about gender justice (in Scotland and in the world), mental health, and the future of ministry & fresh expressions. It is open to all 17-25 year olds with a connection to the Church of Scotland with 140 places available. Bookings are available via https://nationalyouthassembly2016.eventbrite.co.uk
HANNAH MARY GOODLAD: Moderator CATRIONA MUCKART: Clerk NAOMI DORNAN: Youth rep
CATRIONA MUCKART: Youth rep
ROBIN DOWNIE: Youth rep
CATRIONA MUNRO: Youth rep
STEF FOWLER: Youth rep
NATASHA SCOTLAND: Youth rep
SHAHAN GOHAR: Youth rep
CALLUM JAMES SCOTT: Youth rep
LYNDSAY KENNEDY: Youth rep
RACHEL WALKER: Youth rep
GIGHA LENNOX: Youth rep
KIRSTY WATSON: Youth rep
DUNCAN LOGIE: Youth rep
(resigned Nov 2015)
ANDREW MACPHERSON: Youth rep ADELE MARR: Youth rep FIONA MARSHALL: Youth rep SOPHIE MCCLEMENTS: Youth rep VICTORIA MCCLEMENTS: Youth rep 54
A full account of the NYA 2015 and details of the work youth reps have undertaken since then.