Youth Ministry in Communion is the response of Anglican churches of the sacramental tradition in the Kensington Episcopal Area of the Diocese of London to the call of growing younger and more diverse. We know that the liturgical and eucharistic tradition has something to offer in the lives of young people; enabling them to grow and thrive in God's love and we want to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with them. Since the start of this journey of collaboration in 2021, we've been growing and developing as a network reaching churches and young people in both the Diocese of London and Southwark.
We firmly believe that the model of YMIC has the opportunity to transform the lives of hundreds of young people, whilst catalysing growth and development at the parish level. Our primary mission is to journey with young people and accompany them on their spiritual journey - relationships are key to lifelong discipleship. Through our work with young people and church leaders, we seek to foster a culture of youth participation, nurturing the faith and vision of young people and enacting their leadership and voice into church communities.
We're on a journey. We're trying new things. We're taking risks. We won't always get it perfect. But, we believe in a younger & diverse church that reflects the breadth of church tradition, and most importantly one where young people encounter the love of God and share it with others.
Why was YMIC set up?
YMIC aims to change the common misconception that churches with a more traditional worship style are outdated and unattractive to young people. We're working to tell a new story that recognises the breadth of the Church and celebrates a diversity of church expression, including churches where the eucharist, liturgy, and choral music are the foundation of worship.
Our journey began in Spring 2021 when the world was still being impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, also looming in the midst of the pandemic was the long-established issue of decline in the Church of England. 2 priests and a youth worker (not the start of a joke!) sat down to discuss the future of youth work at St Andrew's Fulham Fields when they unanimously agreed that a collaborative approach was the answer post-pandemic. The majority of youth work culture in the UK is dominated by an evangelical and charismatic approach... This is not the fault of one tradition! Churches of a more catholic understanding of faith themselves have perhaps been too slow in responding to decline and seeking fresh ways of being church whilst remaining rooted in their eucharistic tradition.
As a result, a small group of local church leaders from Kensington, Chelsea, Hammersmith & Fulham sat down to discuss the opportunities of working together. From the first meeting on Zoom, we hadn't really found an answer. However, after meeting a few more times we decided that we would start by providing youth events that engaged our parishes jointly, enabling a critical mass of young people to be established. All our partner churches at the time collated less than £1000 at the time, and we put on an exciting youth event with inflatables, outdoor games, a BBQ and worship. We expected about 30 young people would come. Instead, we had 60+ young people attend that first event and have an incredible time (their words not ours!).
We committed to working together and establishing something more concrete to enable our existing young people to grow in faith, those young people on the fringes of our churches to enter into something deeper, and those with no connection to the church to be reached. YMIC provides a gradual approach for young people to continue their spiritual journey alongside other teens.
YMIC: NOW AND THE FUTURE
The project has somewhat developed since Summer 2021 and now our vision is much bolder: to renew youth ministry in the sacramental tradition across the entire Church of England - starting locally in London. Our existing network is made up of over 14 churches from both London and Southwark Dioceses.
Each year, we provide 3 high-quality and large-scale youth events attracting around 60 young people, as well as an annual residential which is currently a week-long trip to the Taizé Community in France.
In addition to our direct work with young people, we work in a number of ways to support parishes in establishing patterns of long-term youth ministry, including hands-on support through our small team and partners, and the provision of paid youth workers in parish settings. We're also working to provide a learning community, opportunities for further training and resources that churches can use 'off-the-shelf- to support ministry with young people.
There's lots more to come and we're grateful for all those who have prayed, supported and journeyed with us thus far.