Home > Queensland Synod News > Young leaders stretch wings

Young leaders stretch wings

Young adults and faith leaders stretch their wings at Stretching Faith, Alexandra Park Conference Centre, Sunshine Coast, 9 September. Photo by Journey

TEN young adults came together from around Queensland for the third annual Stretching Faith theology weekend held from 7 to 9 September at Alexandra Park Conference Centre on the Sunshine Coast.

Kate Wilson, who was supported by the Central Queensland Presbytery to travel from Mackay for the weekend, was enthusiastic about the opportunity.

"It's networking, it's learning, and stretching my faith and getting to do some study.

"This is my first Stretching Faith, and I'm really loving it," she says.

This year's theme was "Where on Earth is God?", a crucial question, according to guest speaker Rev Dr Vicky Balabanski.

"The clock is ticking and it's not for somebody else to fix, but up to Christians to offer leadership," she says.

A New Testament lecturer at the Uniting College for Leadership and Theology in South Australia, Dr Balabanski is impressed by this initiative.

"We don't have anything like this in South Australia.

"I am very interested in and committed to building up young people.

"I think it's great for them to get to know each other, but also to be resourced and accompanied by people who had that themselves when they were young, as I did."

Supported by Trinity Theological College, Stretching Faith brings Queensland's future church leades in contact with current church leaders, with guidance this year from Moderator Kaye Ronalds, Rev Dr Geoff Thompson, Rev Dr Malcolm Coombs and Rev Josie Nottle, Rev Mark Cornford, Rev Harlee Cooper and Rev Jock Dunbar.

Mr Cooper says it is a crucial time in young people's lives for this kind of engagement.

"Young people are deciding to own their faith for themselves.

"And a lot of them are going on to university and so their understandings are opening and their worlds are getting bigger.

"It's great to get some smart people in front of our young adults at this point to push them, probe them and unpack some stuff; to help them understand that the Christian faith is a very intellectually rich tradition as well as a spiritual one.

"I say this as someone who preaches regularly to them.

"We don't always have the time to do that regularly in a sermon, or the ability to engage as deeply as the Stretching Faith weekends allow."

Dr Balabanski agrees.

"There's a sense of urgency.

"Young people are making important life choices at this time.

"You can't leave it five years and expect them to be still asking the same questions or to have the same openness about those questions.

"And as we know, the Uniting Church is an ageing church, but that also varies across congregations.

"I am committed to the church, I was ordained last year, but in the end it is not about the church. It's about discipling for Christ."

Eric Garde, an 18-year-old youth leader at his congregation in Deception Bay, appreciated the opportunity "to learn more about God and improve my faith, so that when I go back to Deception Bay I can be a better leader and help out the church."

University chaplain at The University of Queensland and member of the Deception Bay congregation Mr Cornford says that Stretching Faith gives back to such young adults.

"As a church we're good at engaging young adults to serving in the church, but not so good at feeding them.

"Stretching Faith is somewhere they can come for the church to help them grow in faith – and in life, as they constantly give out in their life to the church."

Stretching Faith is on Facebook at www.facebook.com/groups/130129223713251/.

Photo : Young adults and faith leaders stretch their wings at Stretching Faith, Alexandra Park Conference Centre, Sunshine Coast, 9 September. Photo by Journey