During February, the Church of Scotland hosted a Year of Young People event at parliament, the youth presbytery visited Switzerland, and churches across Scotland focused their activities on the theme of health and wellbeing.
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The Moderator of the General Assembly, Right Rev Dr Derek Browning, hosted a reception at the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday 27th February to celebrate the contribution of young people to society. Speakers at the event, attended by interfaith partners and MSPs, included Church Youth Worker Gigha Lennox, who talked about being part of a group of young people who went to Rwanda. National Youth Assembly Moderator, Robin Downie, reflected on a recent trip to Israel, Palestine and Jordan.
The Church of Scotland is taking part in the Scottish Government's Year of Young People and will mark the year with a series of events, workshops, services and gatherings. During Dr Browning's address, he challenged the view that young people "don't do religion". Dr Browning said: "Wherever I have met young people, questions about faith and doubt, the existence of God, the meaning of the Bible and other Holy Books, prayer and the point of religion are not only lively, they are perceptive and profound."
The Scots Kirk in Lausanne, Switzerland hosted eighteen young people for this year's Youth Presbytery in February. The young people aged between 18 and 28, gathered from a range of places; Amsterdam, Bochum, Brussels, Budapest, Lausanne, Paris, Rotterdam and Sri Lanka. The group spent time thinking, talking, worshipping and praying.
In developing the proposed theme of 'happiness', the group asked themselves the following questions:
- What difference does believing in God make to how we live and respond to the highs and lows, the joys and the sadness in life?
- Does having faith help us address the challenging and complex questions facing us today?
Uphall South Church
At Uphall South Church, young people in Sunday Club were helping prepare crafts for their next Messy Church. The theme for the event will be Community, Enterprise and Regeneration. The group will focus on the Bible verse Colossians 3:23: "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart".
Morag Cameron, Session Clerk at Uphall South Church, said "I had my young grandson with me and Rachel who had been busy drawing egg shapes on cardboard then greatly helped by entertaining him. Natalie (pictured right) is 22-years-old and has Downs Syndrome and was helping in her own way."
Selkirk Parish Church
Selkirk Parish Church had a lovely meal on Friday 16th February, inviting leaders from all of the Selkirk churches. The older children from Sunday school were the waiters and waitresses. This was a great way to get the young people involved and many good conversations were had between generations.
Wardie Parish Church
Wardie Parish Church, Edinburgh, welcomed the Year of Young People with an exciting and timely drama presented by the talented Wardie Players Youth Ensemble.
Dickens was greatly concerned with the plight of children and especially ‘houselessness' and perhaps the most moving scene was the death of the destitute child street-sweeper, Joe, in ‘Bleak House'; the actors conveying the dark horror of Joe's predicament through the clever use of torches, quiet movement and persuasive language.
For many years Wardie Players have presented a pantomime in early January but as this was not possible this year, it was decided to give the gifted youngsters the chance to take part in a challenging venture which would not only entertain all ages but address the pitiful aspects of some young people's lives, common in Dickens' time, but which persist in 21st century Scotland.
By coincidence, the mother of the young actor playing Joe had taken part in the recent ‘Sleepout' for homelessness in Prince's Street Gardens.
Guilds across Scotland
Guilds across Scotland hosted a range of activities during February on the theme of Health and Wellbeing. Here are some of their ideas:
- The whole church had a healthy month. Children were given a chart with healthy eating, sleeping, exercise etc. and parents received star stickers. When a child reached fifteen stars, the child was given a book
- Bringing vegetables into church and making soup together
- Church competition – everyone was invited to write down eight things they have done to prevent climate change