The Methodist Church is on the brink of becoming the first British denomination to employ an elected full-time Youth President. The plan is part of a wide-ranging scheme to put young people’s voices at the heart of the Methodist Church.
The election will take place at the Methodist Youth Assembly, planned for 13–15 November in Durham. The gathering will bring together over 200 Methodists aged under 23. For the first time in 14 years, the event is oversubscribed.
The Methodist Church said today (5 November) that the interactive style of the Assembly means that “more young Methodists than ever will be making their voices heard”. They added that they wanted “to maximise the impact of young people’s influence on the Methodist Church”.
“The Youth Assembly is ground-breaking,” said Fiona Holmes, 20, of Newcastle, who has been involved in planning the event. She described it as “something totally new to the Church, something that will let young people feel they are a part of the Church”.
Issues to be explored at the Assembly include youth violence, vocation, climate change and self-esteem. Conversations will be streamed via webcams around the venue and outcomes from the debates will be displayed on plasma screens and graffiti boards as they happen. A team of consultants will be on hand to answer questions arising from the discussions.
The election for the position of Youth President will be open to all Methodists aged between 18 and 23.
“The Youth Assembly will enable young people from all different backgrounds and abilities to engage – not just those who are articulate and confident about speaking to a roomful of people” said Jude Levermore, the Methodist Church’s Participation Development Officer.
In a demonstration of the denomination’s support for the Assembly, it will be attended by the Methodist Church’s President, David Gamble, and its Vice-President, Richard Vautrey.
The Assembly’s organisers give the impression that they are willing to take a challenging stance towards many current Christian perceptions. “We are not the Church of the future,” insisted Fiona Holmes, “We are the Church of today.”