The third in a series of training roadshows following up on the huge Energize celebration of youth was held in St Thomas’s Parish Church, Belfast, on November 12.
Previous roadshows had taken place in Bushmills (Archdeaconry of Dalriada) and Antrim (Archdeaconry of Connor) and all were supported by the Bishop of Connor, the Rt Rev Alan Abernethy.
The evenings were facilitated by the committee which organised the Energize event, which was held in St Brigid’s, Glengormley, in September, and attracted more than 400 young people and youth leaders.
The roadshows provided an opportunity for youth groups from different parishes to share experiences and connect with each other as the diocese aims to put new impetus into youth work in Connor.
Introducing the evening, Bishop Alan said: “When I first came to Connor there were so many things happening for young people in so many different places. It was hard to get a diocesan feeling to it.”
The aim of the event, he said, was to see what each youth group was doing. “We want to see what your dreams, hopes and frustrations are,” the Bishop said. “I believe that together we really can make a difference in everyone’s lives.
“We can always find negatives and frustrations, but we need to dream more dreams because that’s what God wants us to do. I am here to help you do this with the support of a great team.”
Connor Diocesan training co-ordinator Peter Hamill made reference to the magnificent transformation of St Thomas’s, describing the recently renovated church as a ‘testament to dreaming dreams.’ “When you dream the dreams it is amazing what can happen,” he said.
The group looked at the many issues and challenges facing them as youth leaders in a frank and good natured exchange of ideas. Peter told them. “At each roadshow we have recorded everything that has been said and are going to go back and look at the issues. This is a journey that is not going to be completed overnight.”
Keith Neill, Youth Worker at Lisburn Cathedral and part of the organising committee, described the issues and challenges as ‘a list of problems that stifle us in doing what we want to do.’
He went on: “As a diocese we want to be able to offer you resources and put something together for you that will help you in the areas you most need support in.
“You are not on your own. As a diocese we want to be with you on your journey.”
The committee will now examine the issues raised during the roadshows and will return to the three archdeaconries to offer training support in particular issues.