Michael Bishop 29 Aug 2016
You may remember that earlier in the year we interviewed about 20 members of the church for one of my theology assignments. One of the questions asked was “what are you anxious about for UMC?” There were two answers that came up again and again – one related to the uncertainty caused by ministers coming and going (but if you didn't already know, we are here till at least the end of 2021, so you're stuck with us for a bit!). The second anxiety which nearly everyone raised related to young people – particularly the high school age group. Numbers of you expressed the concern that we would like to see more youth in the church. I am so glad to see that this is something weighing heavily on your hearts, because we are taking some major steps next year to address this concern, and if you've been worrying about this issue, you'll be excited about our news this morning :) Here's what we're going to do (Kym will share some more details in the service):
1. We are pressing ahead with our plans for a new building (including Sunday School, youth, small group and training venues). Look out for some images soon! We have some of the funds already, the structure will be simple – avoiding exorbitant costs, and we will phase construction to avoid incurring debt.
2. We have been in talks with a small Christian high school (Destiny Life Academy – the school where our part-time youth pastor, Cliff Bartholomew teaches). They need to leave their premises and we've offered them space here from 2017. The arrangement is they will pay a monthly rental which will fund a full-time youth pastor post (and that staff member will be involved in ministry to the school as well as in our weekend programmes). They're going to construct wooden classrooms and will ultimately make some use of our new building too. In fact, the first classroom is already being constructed.
This is a big step and as leaders we have given much time to discuss and pray through the implications. The arrangement is structured so that it can be reviewed or even terminated if it's not working out, but we are hopeful that this is going to help us to grow our youth ministry, connect in ministry with new families, and continue to support education and see young lives shaped and transformed. We hope you're excited too!