“What is the commitment of the national church towards supporting and sustaining ongoing youth initiatives and intentional youth ministries? What is the clearest vision for this?”
These are two key questions that will be answered by a youth initiatives task force, whose establishment was approved by the Council of General Synod (CoGS) during its meeting here Nov. 16-18.
Dean Peter Wall, of the diocese of Niagara, told CoGS that although youth ministry is having a “life-giving and life-changing impact” for young Canadian Anglicans, it is currently not only outside the established structures of the church but it is being done “at multiple levels” and “with no clear lines of accountability.”
He noted that when the church’s 1995 strategic plan was adopted, youth work was moved to dioceses, where in many cases, it has been “foundering” and has been “further downgraded” to parishes. He said that most dioceses do not have full-time staff dedicated to youth ministry so that “we have lost much of our knowledge” around that area of work.
However, he said, the meeting of General Synod in 2004 identified youth work as a priority; in response, CoGS struck a partnership with Ask and Imagine, an Anglican youth leadership program based in southern Ontario, to develop youth initiatives. The eco-justice committee also responded by establishing justice camps for the youth in 2005; in 2006, then primate’s office funded the development of www.generation.anglican.ca, a Web site for Anglican youth. A “networking and visioning” conference, dubbed Generation 2008, is also being organized next summer.
Mr. Wall said that with an “upsurge in commitment for youth initiatives” in some dioceses, greater interest in vocations to ordained ministry among the youth, and increased involvement of youth in national work, it was time to figure out how all the youth ministry work can be integrated.
Suzanne Lawson, from the diocese of Toronto, agreed, saying, “This is a strategic planning question. Is this (youth ministry) still a program area that dioceses fund and support, or does it become a priority for the church nationally?”