Last week the Provincial Youth Commission of the Church in the Province of the West Indies (CPWI) met in Barbados to develop a strategic plan for youth ministry in the region. Meeting at Codrington College, the youth directors from each diocese and young people from Guyana and Barbados explored how youth ministry can be re-focused around the Anglican Marks of Mission.
Archbishop John Holder, Primate of the CPWI, encouraged the group to respond to the challenges facing families in the region. He highlighted that many issues troubling youth are symptoms of a broader breakdown of family structure in the region.
Archbishop John urged the commission to seek to provide “Christian alternatives in a world where the other offerings are extremely attractive”. In doing this he asked them to “celebrate and enable young people who are doing good and commendable things”.
One direct response to Archbishop John’s mandate is the plan to encourage dioceses to develop entrepreneurial programmes for young people. Outstanding young entrepreneurs will be recognised with prizes. The commission also proposed that space is made at provincial youth gatherings for a trade fair for these youth entrepreneurs.
All these ideas are rooted in the Anglican Marks of Mission, encouraging intentional discipleship and responding to the needs of youth as they struggle to navigate through the many social and economic challenges of their lives.
Clifton Nedd, Anglican Consultative Council member and Anglican Alliance Caribbean regional facilitator, said that the plans set youth work in a biblical context, following an approach that looks to mobilise the gifts and assets amongst the young people and their communities for the common good.
In his keynote reflection, Clifton reminded the commission that “youth ministry is primarily concerned with assisting young people to know Jesus, the Christ; and to develop an abiding relationship with Him as their Lord and Saviour.”
“It is this relationship that causes them to become involved in the Mission of Christ,” Clifton said.
Clifton urged the commission to consider how to equip young people to live out their Baptismal Covenant. He also urged that the new strategic plan give attention to creation of safe spaces, providing models and methods for walking with Christ – “to assist young people to grow in Wisdom, Stature, Favour with God, and Favour with Man.”
Clifton also encouraged youth to take time for prayer, study and rest, reminding them that they cannot “pour from an empty cup”.
Reflecting on the meeting, Clifton said, “I was most excited about the refocus. We spent time thinking about where we want to go, building out from the Marks of Mission and framing our Anglican identity.”
Sharon Lamy, the youth coordinator from the Diocese of Trinidad and Tobago, said that she was excited there is now a global context to her work, connecting to the broader Marks of Mission.
The commission’s new strategic plan seeks to support the broader provincial plan which was developed by the Provincial Synod in November 2015. This calls the Church to give meaning and purpose to ministry within the communities it serves. The draft now goes before CPWI provincial bodies for ratification.
Revd Rachel Carnegie, Alliance co-executive director, welcomed the news of the youth commission’s plans. “One of the key priorities of the Anglican Alliance is to share good models of youth empowerment,” she said.
“It is very inspiring to see how the CPWI Youth Commission is seeking to develop the capacities of young people to transform their own lives and bring good to their communities. Like other provinces in the Communion, CPWI is exploring how youth can best be energised and discipled by their churches to follow Christ and to become Christ’s hands and feet in the world.”