Sorry I haven't blogged for a while (I feel I start with this too much), but it's been a busy few weeks. I have recently moved again, so I'm going to use that as an excuse this time.
So, after the negativity of the previous post, I'm back on a much happier note. The weekend before last saw about 300 young people who are connected to the Methodist Church meet together in Litchfield for 3Generate 2012. 3Generate is the current regeneration (Doctor Who based pun!) of the Youth Assembly and Youth Conferences of old (I have blogged about 2011 here), and are one of the highlights of my year. I love being around like-minded (and often not-so-like-minded) people discussing issues that are important to them, society and the Church. I have been involved with the running of five of the seven I have now attended, this year getting paid for some of it due to being an OPP. I found this tricky because I felt like I should be doing more than I have in previous years as I am being paid, when actually I probably should have been doing less...
I'm not going to give a blow by blow account, but highlight what I took from it. The first thing that struck me was how events and people mature. In 2009, I was ready to give up with the Youth Assembly as was. It was the first time it was run in a workshop style rather than a formal debate structure, and a lot of lessons needed to be learnt. And all I can say now is that it has come so far, this year's event was amazing, truly professional and a real asset to the Methodist Church. But as well as the event maturing, I have to admit that I have as well. For the past few years, there has been a group of us (formerly calling ourselves Methodist 2.0) who would often spend time picking at all the things that were wrong and being very negative; almost, it seems, for the sake of being negative. But this year was so different. There were still things that need tweaking, but as a group, we were much more positive. Maybe it's because we are preparing to move on in the next year or so, but we started talking about what comes next, and how the event can continue to grow to best suit the 'youngsters' who come now. And there are going to be some very interesting things happening over the coming months and years.
The second thing was how different people want different things from the Church. Maybe that seems obvious, but it really got me thinking. I facilitated a workshop on Cohabitation at 3Generate: how it is viewed and what young adults think about it, which will feed into a piece of work the Methodist Church is doing. This is a great example of participation in action. At the Youth Assembly in Durham, the young people asked the church to do some work to give guidance on thinking about Cohabitation, and that work is now in its final stages, having had young people involved at key points. Anyway, I'm tangenting (now a word!). I approached the issue with an open mind, not wanting to come down on either side of the debate as I don't feel that it's helpful in that kind of discussion for the person up the front to have an obvious bias. Many of the people in the session agreed that the Church shouldn't give a black and white ruling, as it is a complex issue with so many variables, but that the Church should give guidance based on the Methodist Quadrilateral of Scripture, Reason, Tradition and Experience. But there were some who wanted a definitive answer. I'll admit I am one of the former - I struggle with open and shut 'answers' when it comes to faith, partly because I don't see that the Bible always is that simple. But again that is another post for another time. But what I love about Methodism is that there is that range of views, but the Church is still very much together.
As I've said, I love 3Generate, and would like to thank all the amazing people who make it happen. The Children and Youth Team are great (I have to say that, I'm now technically one of them!) and the various volunteers (many were young people themselves) who give up an awful lot of time to make sure that it all runs smoothly (or at least looks like it is to the delegates, 3Generate really is like the graceful swan, paddling away manically under the water). But probably most important of all, the young people who come, engage, and challenge. And a big congratulations to Tamara, who was elected to be Youth President 2013/14, and all the other reps who got elected for the various things. Please hold them, and all young people, in your prayers as they go into the world to challenge injustice and spread God's love.