Youth leaders from around York-Credit Valley gathered at St. John, Dixie on Oct. 5 for the second annual youth leaders summit. About 35 people turned out, building on momentum from last year’s summit, and some curious leaders from outside York-Credit Valley attended as well.
Alexandra McIntosh, the youth ministry coordinator for the area, offers these events as a chance to empower and equip youth leaders to be confident agents of change in their ministry contexts. “Youth ministry is so often separated from the life of the parish, relegated to the basement and under-resourced,” she says. “There are also few opportunities for youth leaders to network and learn from each other in the same ways clergy can. When youth leaders gather and hear from each other, they get a chance to create valuable networks and learn how to imagine new ways of doing youth ministry.”
An important part of the summits is sharing resources, she says. Many churches offer some funds to their youth leaders for continuing education, books and conferences. Ms. McIntosh brought several of her favourite resources, including her top two recommendations: Faith Formation in a Secular Age by Andrew Root, and Rebooted by Tim Gough. “These are two short, affordable texts that would strengthen any youth worker’s ministry,” she adds.
The summit heard presentations from youth leaders engaged in innovative programming in each deanery. Sarah Layman from the North Peel Deanery discussed what it was like to lead youth ministries in two different churches, and how to build holistic goals for the groups. James Noronha from the Etobicoke-Humber Deanery discussed how to meaningfully engage youth in the life of the parish and stressed the importance of relationship-building and meeting youth where they are. Jenni King-Feheley from Parkdale West Toronto offered reflections on how to authentically listen and respond to the needs of one’s community and how to create new ways to give young people experiences of God. Lastly, Bridget Poole from the Mississauga Deanery, who wasn’t able to attend in person, offered practical tips on how to involve parents in youth ministry and create intergenerational programming.
Bishop Jenny Andison also attended, giving attendees a chance to ask questions about how to walk alongside youth as they personally and corporately deal with the difficulties the Church is going through. “Everyone learned a great deal by listening to what others had to say, and left with a stronger network and community,” says Ms. McIntosh.
Seeking the Lord’s face