Young people gather for National Youth Assembly

Young people are gathering for an annual conference tomorrow to enjoy fellowship and discuss issues important to the Church of Scotland.

A total of 76 people have registered to attend the National Youth Assembly (NYA) at Gartmore House in Stirlingshire, which is taking place until Monday.

Topics that will be discussed include faith, prayer, mental health, mindfulness and wellbeing, interfaith issues, injustice and poverty, discipleship and what they think the priorities of the Church should be going forward.

NYA
Outgoing Moderator of the National Youth Assembly, Andrew MacPherson and Moderator Designate, Robin Downie with their Clerks Lyndsay Kennedy and Catriona Munro.

Robin Downie will be formally installed as the Moderator of the National Youth Assembly – described as the forum where young people aged 17-25 can voice their opinions and actively participate in decision making – for 2017-18.

He is taking over from Andrew MacPherson.

Mr Downie, 21, a member of Applecross Lochcarron, Torriden Church of Scotland in the north-west Highlands, said: “I am extremely excited about the journey which lies ahead.

“It's a privilege to be Youth Moderator and take on the role from Andrew.

“I'm looking forward to seeing where the discussions taking place this weekend will go.

“I'm sure that over the next year I will develop as a Christian and see so much of how God is working in the world.”

Breaking down barriers

Mr Downie said he was particularly looking forward to attending a workshop on Interfaith issues on Sunday, which is being delivered by the World Mission Council of the Church of Scotland.

“I'm going to Rwanda in Africa at the end of August on a joint Interfaith trip with Christians and young Muslims as well as being involved in Interfaith week in November,” he added.

“ I'm really hoping that the National Youth Assembly can break down barriers and stereotypes and be an example of how Christians can work with other faiths.

“Next year is the Year of the Young Person, which is already kicking off.

“It presents an opportunity to highlight the talents and work that Christians do in the Church.”

Throughout the course of the next 12 months Mr Downie and his Clerk, Catriona Munro, a member of St Columba’s Church in Stirling, will work with a team of youth representatives from across Scotland to express the views of young people in the Church.

The pair will represent the NYA at events and encourage young people to take an active role in the national councils and committees of the organisation.

National Youth Assembly
National Youth Assembly

Mr MacPherson, a member of Broxburn Parish Church and a Boys Brigade officer, said: “I can’t quite believe it has been 11 months already since last year’s NYA.

“It has definitely been the fastest and one of the best years I have had with the opportunities and experiences that have come my way.

“From the beginning the support I have received from those around me has been great and I can’t thank them enough.

“I have had the privilege of being able to visit both Hungary and Germany during my year and I look forward to hearing from Robin about the opportunities he gets to travel during his year.”

Experience

Mr MacPherson, whose Clerk was Lyndsay Kennedy, said the position was not without scrutiny and challenges.

“I have faced my share of these but with my strength from God I believe I have been able to deliver as best I could on the voice of youth assembly delegates last year on gender justice, mental health and the future of ministry and Fresh Expressions,” he added.

“I wish Robin every blessing as he takes on the role and I know the support that will be available to him will be great, and the experience even greater.”

Right Rev Dr Derek Browning, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, is attending the NYA on Saturday.