As I write this, Youth HUB, our Youth group ‘HERE in the UNITED BENEFICE,’ has just returned from SOLID, a Christian Festival held at Stubbers Activity Centre in Upminster every July. We returned this year, after enjoying ourselves last year.
The festival is organised by Scripture Union and a number of partnering agencies, including Chelmsford Diocese, and is open to all youth groups from any denominational background.
SOLID brings together hundreds of young people from across the South East of England to discover and worship Jesus while taking part in all kinds of adventure, creative and sporting activities, including Laser Tag, canoeing, high ropes, banana boating and jet skiing, to name just a few.
Ten young people from Youth HUB, and four leaders – Christine and David Mortimer, Phil – my husband and I, arrived at Stubbers on the Friday evening to put up our tents and we then began the weekend by participating in an opening act of worship in the ‘Jump-in’ tent. The worship was lively, with contemporary music, a professional Christian theatre group and an engaging speaker and it challenged each person to consider what it means to fully commit his or her life to Jesus Christ. Throughout the weekend, the worship reiterated the message that we can all be used by Jesus to share the good news of the Gospel with others. And Phil, the speaker, gave lots of examples of young people he had encountered in his ministry, who thought they were worthless, but who have been used powerfully by God to bring others to faith after giving their own lives to Jesus. He recounted how individuals have done this through prayer and by daring to step out of the boat, trusting in God as they have started something new.
I encourage you to pray for our young people. It was a tremendous privilege to take them away and to see them grow in confidence in their faith as they shared in worship and had fun together over the weekend. As Bishop John Wraw said, before he sadly died last year, ‘our young people are not the church of tomorrow, they are an important part of the church of today.’
Of course, it is essential that we recognise that our churches are made up of people of all ages and that we value all. It was in contrast to the Stubbers gathering that, at our Deanery meeting last week, we were fortunate to hear a speaker, Canon Hugh Dibbens, talking about evangelism for the senior members of our congregations. Hugh has written a five – week course for those of more mature years, to help them become more confident in sharing the good news of Jesus with others. The course is called ‘Calling all Seniors.’ Jesus calls us all ‘to make disciples of all nations’ (Matthew 28:19); none of us Christians are exempt from this command. At the meeting Hugh encouraged us to discuss some of the ways in which retired members of our congregations share their faith and he spoke, positively, about his own experiences as a man of mature age. It is hoped that Hugh’s course will be run in Thurrock Deanery in the coming year, so if you are someone who thinks you might be interested in attending, then please do let me know and I can pass your details on to Revd Darren Barlow, our Area Dean; it would be great to have some representatives from this Benefice attending.
I am running out of space now, so will sign off until October’s edition. I pray that, if you are going away over the summer, you will have a refreshing break, just as we did at SOLID, but that, wherever you are, you will know God’s presence with you.
With love and prayers,