With Summer Madness and Streetreach just round the corner, the young people of Connor Diocese are gearing up for the arrival of their friends from America!
Christ in Youth a very active youth organisation which sends teams all across the world and runs multiple youth conferences.
The link between Northern Ireland and America was established by Jasper Rutherford, who worked for Summer Madness. Jasper learned about Christ in Youth during a visit to America and suggested forming a partnership. The group joined the Connor young people for both Summer Madness and Streetreach last year, and will be back for 2018.
Christina Baillie, Connor Diocesan Youth Officer, said she was extremely pleased with the outcome of last year’s connection. “It was great. A team of 27 came along so there was a lot of good energy and enthusiasm!” she said.
The Americans arrive on Wednesday June 27 and will initially be based at the University of Ulster campus in Jordanstown. They will have a tour of north Belfast on Friday, before heading to Glenarm for Summer Madness later that day.
The annual youth festival runs until Tuesday July 3, with lots of worship, seminars, sports and activities take place, giving everyone a chance to get to know each other. The Americans will act as crew at Summer Madness, setting up halls etc for events and activities.
For Streetreach, the young people from Connor will once again be partnering with Glenavy Parish and will be joined by the Americans for a busy programme running from Tuesday July 3 to Friday July 6.
Activities include a car wash, visits to a nursing home, a kids’ club, litter picking in the streets and scenic areas, a carnival and lots of worship, discussion and of course… food!
Christina said Streetreach and Summer Madness are programmes which are of benefit to both the youth of Connor and the Americans from Christ in Youth.
“We will all see that we share the same God,” she said. “The American visitors will also learn about culture in Belfast and the historical and controversial past of Northern Ireland.
“For the young people in Connor, having other people around is great, it creates a buzz. All our young people made amazing friends last year, and I am sure friendships will be renewed and new friendships formed this summer.”
Report by Lucy Cullen.
Lucy is a Sixth Form student at Down High School who has an interest in religious journalism and spent three days in the Connor Diocese communications office on work experience.