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A Church for the Young

News St Martin – Talking Points

Sunday 9 February 2014

When the Melanesian Brothers and Sisters came to UK to lead a mission they were asked their impressions of the Church of England.

One of the Brothers answered with great honesty, “We have been welcomed with such kindness and generosity wherever we have been, but one thing is missing, where are the young people in your church?” He had a point. In Solomon Islands the churches are packed and at least half the congregation are under the age of twenty five.

Perhaps in the west there is a healthy cynicism of organised religion among young people. But perhaps too often the church does not belong to young people. In Melanesia it is often the young religious communities mostly under the age of 25 who are leading the worship, preaching the sermons, initiating the church programmes and missions. And it is radical. These young people were at the forefront of the peace initiative during the ethnic conflict, putting their own lives at risk; they are the ones speaking out against domestic violence, leading HIV awareness programmes, campaigning against deforestation, educating and creating community through dance, music, drama, building houses, fishing, farming, hosting, feeding and organising. These are not programmes organised for young people, they are their own initiatives.

One of the exciting things at St Martin’s is to see the ministry and inclusion of young people grow. There is dynamic energy and young leadership in our Open Circle Group which has really taken off. In church our younger members are taking part and engaging in the life of this church – have a look at “The Young People’s Guide to the Readings” each Sunday. All of us could be enthused! There are plans for a young people’s choir and today how wonderful to have members of St Martin in the Fields High School for Girls and Archbishop Tenison’s School join us. What a gift. Young people are the future of our church.

Revd Richard Carter