Saturday, 2 August 2008
With ABMY in Dorset
Abseiling, quad-biking, dragonboat racing - these were just some of the activies available at the PGL camp in Weymouth which was the setting for this year's ABMY Conference.
The Association of Black Methodist Youth Clubs is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year and it was great to see 130 young people enjoying themselves in a diverse programme of worship, activity, discussion and fun!
Their ages range from 12 to mid-twenties and most of the groups came from Churches around London though I was pleased to meet one young fellow Mancunian.
The Conference sessions were ably chaired by Jenni Codrington the outgoing AMBY President; Rachel Coates was there from the Methodist Youth Executive to explain the Methodist Church's new Youth Participation Strategy and encouraged members to become involved in it.
It was good to meet up again with Winnie Gasa who had spoken so helpfully at the Methodist Conference on gang violence in inner-city areas. ABMY members were given the opportunity to talk about the Church's response having listened to Edward Johnson, whose brother Edvin was brutally killed outside his home only a few months ago. Edward spoke with great honesty about his own struggles in trying to deal with what had happened - how strong natural urges to want to take revenge were in conflict with what he believed God wanted.
The ABMY has already stimulated a resolution to the Scarborough Conference which means that knife and gun crime - and all the social and spiritual issues which surround it - are firmly on the Church's agenda.
We know that there are no easy answers or quick solutions but in talking to a number of youth leaders there I became aware of the significant work among young people that our Church and others are aleady doing.
Again it is easy to undervalue the impact of adults who commit their time and energy to leading youth clubs and fellowships and are giving young people the space to grow up in a safe but stretching environment - there is no substitute for the giving of this sort of practical care for the health of our society.
Both the ABMY Conference and Breakout a couple of weeks ago were impressive examples of this - and I was pleased to express the thanks of all the Methodist people to Eric Mustapha and the ABMY executive and all those leaders who were responsible for organising this event, and for all the work that they do in their local communities during the rest of the year.
It has been good to have such a youthful start to the year and I look forward to meeting others who are involved in a whole variety of children's and youth work as we continue our travels.