THERE MAY be few people with the title Youth Worker in the Queensland Synod these days but National Faith Development Consultant for Youth and Young Adults, Tom Kerr, said that that doesn’t mean there are fewer people doing the job.
Many youth workers have transitioned to being ministers, deacons, or pastors and Mr Kerr suggested it was time for people with a passion for youth ministry to think outside the box.
“Uniting Church Youth Workers are serving as chaplains in state and church schools, as youth workers in the community
through local Church ministry, in welfare organisations and so on.
“More than ever before our Uniting Church youth workers are reaching out to non-churched young people.”
Mr Kerr suggested equipping youth workers through the Youth Ministry Internship Scheme (YMIS).
“The YMIS course provides contextualised Christian Youth Work training and is run by Scripture Union,” said Mr Kerr,
who is also a YMIS course trainer.
“It gives students a Certificate IV in Youth Work or a Diploma in Youth Work that are nationally recognised.
“The YMIS course has Government funding possibilities built in too which is very helpful for financially struggling
Sarah Rothery is one of four school chaplains from Glebe Road Uniting Church in Ipswich.
She said the YMIS course gave her a practical base for her work with high school students.
“Learning about self-harm, community work and group work has practical and direct applications to my work with young people,” she said.
“Because you can do it online, in your own time, and have your own trainer available to you, it is a very flexible way to study which can fit in with your full-time work.”
Thomas Grealy and Nathan Golding from Emmanuel Uniting Church in Enoggera, Brisbane, are also doing the YMIS course.
Mr Grealy’s placement is with his home church while Mr Golding wanted to explore school chaplaincy.
Mr Grealy appreciated the different areas covered by the course.
“It really does equip you for youth ministry in such a way that helps you connect the church with the community.
“It covers areas of pastoral care, dealing with at-risk young people, helping refugees integrate into a community, recognising and supporting young people with mental health issues, dealing sensitively with people of other faiths and so on.”
Mr Kerr said YMIS is a pathway for training Uniting Church youth pastors or workers.
“Rev Harlee Cooper, Mr Grealy’s supervisor at Emmanuel Uniting Church, sees great value in the course too,” said Mr Kerr.
“Both Tom and Harlee agree that the course is set up to train youth workers for the real world and that theological training would be an important supplement to add to the development of YMIS graduates who serve in the church context.”
Photo : Rev Harlee Cooper and YMIS student Thomas Grealy from Emmanuel Uniting Church. Photo by Tom Kerr