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Young adults: the present and future

Uniting Church Qld young leaders at the National Young Leaders Conference in February. Photo by Joshua Baldwin

AT the 13th Assembly meeting, delegates from the National Young Leaders Conference presented the statement, “Reconcilation People”, which addressed key justice issues identified by young people within the Uniting Church.

The statement was prepared in February at the National Young Adult Leaders conference, when 75 Uniting Church young people from across Australia gathered in Sydney.

The conference was hosted by then President Rev Alistair Macrae and Rev Ken Sumner, then Chairperson of the Uniting Aboriginal Islander Christian Congress.

UnitingJustice President Rev Elenie Poulos facilitated the workshop on social justice.

The National Young Adult Leaders Conference aims to bridge the gap between generations within the Uniting Church, while inspiring, encouraging, sustaining and developing young adult leaders.

Conference coordinator Tom Kerr said the conference enthuses and encourages young adults to be the servant leaders they are called to be.

“This is an experience where young adults grow in love and faith in a truly unique gathering of young adult peers and mentors,” he says.

“It is an experience of our multicultural, theologically diverse faith family, belonging together and behaving at its Christ-like best.”

Anna Mulcahy, who is currently completing supply youth work at Broadwater Rd and St Mark’s Uniting Churches in Brisbane, said that the conference is a crucial event.

“The conference provides an avenue for young leaders in the Uniting Church to have a voice in the life of the church.

“I attended this year’s conference as I was frustrated with being treated as a token young person who had nothing to offer beyond my age itself.

“I was excited by the opportunity to provide some input into the direction of the church, as well as to voice and tackle some big issues that I believed the church hadn’t been dealing with appropriately.

“The statement at Assembly was challenging and confronting, as it established young adults of the Uniting Church as a group that is engaged, passionate, and refuses to be overlooked.”

Ms Mulcahy emphasised that if the Uniting Church wants to stay relevant in the future, young people are the key to helping identify how that will be possible.

Josie Nottle, youth minister with Centenary Uniting Church and delegate on the facilitation team for the 2013 conference in Brisbane, said that watching how the statement was received at the 13th Assembly was incredibly moving.

“For the first time I saw something beyond the orange card, beyond duty or responsibility.

“They were proud of us.

“They responded with respect and admiration.

“To be heard as a legitimate and significant voice within the church was inspiring.”

Bundaberg Uniting Church member Hayden Gaffel said that young people are not only the future of the church, but also the present.

“As young people we have a very different worldview, different desires for our path, and different concerns for our world.

“To make the best decisions for the church (and hopefully for the world), both young and old must come together to share their experience, wisdom and ideas.”

Mr Gaffel said that he has always stuck with the Uniting Church for its willingness to change for the better.

“I’ve had my fair share of dealings with other denominations.

“Many of them seem too rigid and unshakeable in their thinking, while the Uniting Church continues to adapt.

“It might just be the residual of being a relatively new denomination in its current form, but this sort of adaptability is written into the fabric of the church and I hope it never leaves it,” he said.

For more information, contact Tom Kerr at tomk@nat.uca.org.au.

Watch Reconciliation People at www.vimeo.com/45563018

Photo: Uniting Church Queensland young leaders at the National Young Leaders Conference in February. Photo by Joshua Baldwin