Young people left “buzzing”

THERE was a huge energy from the moment that the young people and their leaders arrived, writes IAN MACDONALD, describing a recent day of listening and reflection involving Bishop Steven and teenagers from across the Diocese of Oxford as part of our common vision process.

There were doughnuts, graffiti questions for Bishop Steven and funny, creative pictures in a photo booth. Bishop Steven helped on the welcome desk, giving each participant a holding cross.

Bishop Steven gave holding crosses to the young people. Photo: Steven Buckley

We started with worship, led by the Eynsham Youth Band and some ice-breaking fun. The young people broke into groups to explore what they wanted Bishop Steven to know about their world, and what they wanted to express about faith and the church.

Everyone then came back together and the Bishop was asked some of the questions from the graffiti board. Click here for some of those questions and answers.

Bishop Steven then talked about faith, the church, and his thinking about contemplation, compassion and courage. Back in the peer groups, everyone was asked to respond to what Bishop Steven shared. The day ended with a Eucharist and everyone sitting down to enjoy a meal (burgers) together.

We are still working on digesting all that the teenagers shared and explored. What is coming through strongly though are the deep challenges and stress young people feel. These revolved around school as well as social media and mental health.

There was lively discussion about contemplation, compassion and courage (not everyone liked the wording). One thing that shone strongly through several groups though was a desire to be involved in Church; in decision making, in being listened to and in conversation with different generations.

A huge thanks to everyone involved, especially the Eynsham Youth band, and the teenagers that led the 10 discussion groups.

A lovely comment came from one mum who said that her teenager had been reluctant to go but came back ‘buzzing!’

Ian Macdonald is the diocesan youth adviser.