Sarah Malik has been elected to a key youth role in the Methodist Church which is the first of its kind in any UK Christian denomination, say its creators - indicating a new step forward for the church and young people.
The role is Youth President at this year’s Methodist Youth Conference. From January until September 2009 Ms Malik will work full time to serve as a specific advocate and spokesperson for young people within British Methodism and its institutions.
The new role is also the first to be appointed in the Church’s new £4 million Youth Participation Strategy, launched at the Youth Conference in Northampton last weekend.
It is the first time salaried positions have been opened up and oriented specifically for 16 to 23-year-olds in order that young people help guide the direction of the church.
Sarah Malik, who is 20, said: "I’m really excited about this new role. In my year of presidency I hope to spend time travelling Britain and listening to what young people in the Church have to say and what they want to see changing. I find it easy to motivate myself when I am working towards something I love."
Mike Seaton, Children and Youth Team Director, commented: "This new role is about encouraging and empowering the Church’s young people. During Sarah’s travels she will be able to challenge Methodists of all ages to welcome the participation of children and young people in all aspects of the Church’s work and life."
Sarah is a carer at a residential care home in Eyam, Derbyshire. She enjoys cooking and watching films and is passionate about helping people to participate in worship through the creation of prayer labyrinths.
The Youth Participation Strategy will also see 32 young people employed in new, part-time salaried posts as District Youth Enablers across the Methodist Church in Britain.
Youth Presidents will be appointed to work full-time in the Church annually from September 2009.
The Methodist Church is one of the largest Christian denominations in Britain, with around 265,000 members and regular contact with over 800,000 people. It has some 5,800 local churches, and also maintains links with other Methodist churches totalling a worldwide membership of 70 million.