Bishop Paul meets local primary school children during his announcement as Bishop of Durham
Bishop Paul meets Children at Lobley Hill All Saints Preschool.
Bishop Paul meets Children at Lobley Hill All Saints Preschool.

The Bishop of Durham, the Right Revd Paul Butler, has used his Easter message to call for more to be done to help young people in the North East to achieve their dreams.

Bishop Paul, who is the Church of England’s lead bishop for children and young people, urged everyone to encourage young people in working towards their aspirations.

The Bishop’s Message

I recently attended a fantastic Easter service at Evenwood Church of England Primary School. The children did a brilliant job of retelling the Easter story using drama, song and video. It was a huge delight to be there alongside the terrific staff and many proud parents, grandparents and carers.

Afterwards, as often happens when I make such visits to schools, I talked to the children about their dreams and aspirations for the future.

I was asked by one of the children what I wanted to be when I was their age.  I told them that I had not wanted to be a vicar or a bishop; the thought never even occurred to me. But the thing about hopes and aspirations is that they change over time.

Unfortunately, as some children get older, their hopes and aspirations tend to reduce. The difficult truth is that the North East of England has the lowest levels of aspirations among young people in the whole country, which is a sad statistic and one that should be hard to accept for all of us. Disturbingly hopes and aspirations decline greatly with the move from Primary to Secondary education.

This is something that we need to change. We all need to give our children and young people a sense of hope that their aspirations can be met rather than a sense that they will fail to achieve their dreams. We need also to help them have sensible hopes; not everyone can become a famous celebrity. Good hopes and aspirations are about being people who help others and contribute well to our whole society.

When I think of our young people, I think of the Easter story and the way that the hopes and aspirations of the Disciples were first dashed then resurrected.

When the disciples first followed Jesus they had dawning hopes; these grew into the excitement of Palm Sunday and Jesus’s entrance into the city. But as the events of Holy Week unfolded the Disciples’ hopes and aspirations perhaps wobbled before they came crashing down around them as Jesus was arrested and then crucified. Easter Saturday must have been absolutely horrendous day for them.

But then came Easter Sunday; the empty tomb and the resurrection; meeting Jesus again with all the renewed and new hope that brought for the Disciples.

This Easter, I hope that we can be inspired by the resurrection in all our lives. I long that we all meet the living, risen Jesus. I also hope that we can work together towards resurrecting our young people’s hopes and aspirations.

It is vital that we encourage them in their dreams and that, even when their aspirations seem to have been crushed, we help to re-ignite their hope for the future.

We need to encourage our young people and show them that Easter really can be a time for hope.”

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