Last Saturday we celebrated the end of this year’s ‘Growing Young Leaders’ course. 19 young people from 12 different parishes in Durham Diocese first came together last September, and have been meeting each month including 2 short residentials. A typical Saturday morning has included opening worship, a Bible study together, a team challenge, some teaching and group discussions, and eating pizza together. We have also had a residential at Durham School and one at Cuthbert House, with pop-up tents and separate indoor campsites! The residentials allowed us time for other activities like swimming and climbing, and even a game of Capture the Flag!

The sessions included understanding what leadership is in a Christian context, developing leadership in context, being part of a team, growing our gifts and how to keep on growing. One of the highlights of the course was the projects that the young people were involved in; some were within the local community, some were in church and some were in school or college. These were then presented to the rest of the group, and really demonstrated how seriously the young people are taking their leadership opportunities.

At the latest Pulse youth event in Durham Cathedral in March, the group took responsibility for choosing the music, forming the band, designing and overseeing the prayer spaces and assisting with the welcome and refreshments.

 

On the final session Bishop Paul presented each young person with a very well deserved certificate and a book (‘Eye Can Write’ by Jonathan Bryan), and encouraged them to keep their eyes fixed on Jesus. Once again the music group led us in worship and the young people explained to everyone what they had experienced in the course, what they had enjoyed, what they had learnt from it.

Bishop Paul has invited them to form a Youth Council, which they are all excited to do, (although 2 will be going off to university in the summer). The commissioning for this will take place at the Waymark Conference in October.

This is some of the feedback from the course:

  • ‘Honestly I loved it all so much, I wish there had been more residentials but it was loads of fun’
  • ‘I’ve enjoyed the sense belonging and community’
  • ‘I really enjoyed meeting new people who share the same faith’
  • ‘I have particularly enjoyed the residentials as it gave us a chance to get to know each other and develop our skills as a leader’
  • ‘I’ve learnt to have more confidence in my abilities and to see ones I didn’t realise I had’
  • ‘I’m much more confident within myself and my faith’
  • ‘I’ve learnt how to be a good leader in a Christian context’
  • ‘I have learnt I have a voice’
  • ‘I’ve learnt you can be a leader at any age’
  • ‘I’d do it again if I could’
  • ‘Everything about the course has been hugely impressive and faith-building’ (Parent)

I am very grateful to the commitment of the amazing team who led the course with me; John and Lena Stephenson, Rachel Cook, Abby Clark and Matthew Brotherston.

This is a remarkable group of young people, and it has been a privilege and joy to work with them over the last year.

Bookings are now open for the next cohort, which will be running from September until April 2020. The course is for young people in school years 10 – 13 (in September). 

Download leaflet here

Online booking here

Andy Harris (April 2019)