New Banchory minister puts faith in youth

Amy Lydia smiling
Amy with 16 month-year-old daughter Lydia.

An Aberdeenshire church ordained a new minister last night who will solely be responsible for nurturing young people.

Amy Pierce said she was very much looking forward to her new role as Associate Minister at Banchory East and West congregations, which both have a thriving youth membership.

The 33-year-old said she was excited about the challenge and hopes to increase awareness of the pitfalls and pressures that media and online interaction can bring.

Research, commissioned by the Scottish Youth Parliament last year, showed one in four teenagers considered themselves to have had a mental health problem.

Mrs Pierce of Banchory, whose father is a Buddhist lay minister, believes the 24-hour nature of social media use means young people can “never switch off”.

“It gets everywhere,” said the mother of one.

“Young people need friends – real friends and of all ages too.”

While the ordination of Associate Ministers is an ancient practice, Mrs Pierce’s title will include the innovative subheading of ‘with specific responsibility for youth’.

Amy Kitchen
Amy said she was excited about the challenge and hopes to increase awareness of the pitfalls and pressures that media and online interaction can bring.

Relevant

National Youth Assembly Moderator, Andrew MacPherson, who has championed the need for men in Scotland to be open about their emotional state, welcomed Mrs Pierce’s approach.

He said: “I look forward to seeing how this work develops as I believe there could be valuable lessons for all congregations to learn as a result of what happens.”

Mrs Pierce, a graduate of theology and divinity, believes her new role is part of an increasingly “relevant” and “modern” church which is making the path to becoming a minister “more realistic”.

The West church, which regularly attracts 190 people a week of all ages, featured on BBC One’s ‘The One Show’ last year as it’s minister, Rev Tony Stephen, demonstrated how people in the pews can ask him questions via a mobile app during sermons.

He described Mrs Pierce as a “shining example of a talented, passionate young person who wants to serve to make a difference, and who has given her life to this community”.

Amy and daughter
Amy has been described as a "“shining example of a talented, passionate young person who wants to serve to make a difference, and who has given her life to this community”.

Vibrant

Mr Stephen said: “The reason I was drawn to Banchory in the first place was because this is a church community that puts young people and youth work firmly in the centre.

“We are deeply committed to building relationships that include, and value all generations; not because youth are the church of the future, but because youth are a crucial part of our community here and now.

“I believe that the church is at its best when it is being a “blessing machine” - making a difference.

“Young people know that, and are the beating heart of our “machine” here.

“We learn so much from them, which makes our church community a vibrant and forward looking one where it is a privilege to be a minister.”

While highlighting the downside of social media, Mrs Pierce, who met her husband when volunteering in the United States, acknowledged that online communication tools are “not a bad thing”.

“Sometimes it can add to pressure young people already face,” she said.

Mrs Pierce switched from Buddhism to Christianity in her teens after being impressed by the transformation she witnessed in two of her friends.

The two congregations have collaborated on youth work for 25 years and Mrs Pierce started working with members five years ago.

She said young people, who have emerged from a ‘rookie’ intern programme, have gone on to do “brilliant work” across the world in churches and workplaces.

Mrs Pierce added: “The legacy of the youth ministry here is huge and I am so excited to be involved with it.”

“After many years of trying to get to this point, this will be an affirmation of my Calling.”

If you would be interested in joining the rookie programme with Mrs Pierce, follow the link.

Find out more about becoming a Church of Scotland minister.