For information on activities involving our young people, please contact Diocesan Youth Officer Christina Baillie at Christinabaillie@connordiocese.org.
Rain didn’t stop play when Connor’s young people headed to the north coast on Sunday May 1 for a Diocesan Youth Beach Bonfire organised by Connor Youth Forum.
While the bad weather meant the event had to be quickly moved to the local Ballyrashane Parish Hall, the young people who had travelled from across the diocese were still able to end their evening at beautiful White Rocks Beach.
Groups came from Lisburn Cathedral, All Saints’ Parish, Antrim, the United Parish of Christ Church & St John’s in Ballyclare, and the Grouped Parishes of Ballyrashane & Kildollagh, with more than 50 young people enjoying fun and fellowship together.
They tucked into chips before sharing some cake, as Jonny Diamond, one of the local youth leaders was celebrating his birthday!
After a few party games, the groups went across the road to St John’s Parish Church for worship led by some of the Youth Forum participants and friends.
By this stage, the rain had thankfully dried up so everyone jumped into cars and made it down to the beach to end the night!
Diocesan Youth Officer Christina Baillie said: “A huge thanks to the Connor Youth Forum members who have organised this and several other youth events across the diocese over the last 18 months. It has resulted in closer ties amongst youth groups and renewed opportunities to come together for encouragement.”
She also expressed thanks to the Grouped Parishes of Ballyrashane & Kildollagh for facilitating the young people for the evening.
The Parish Centre at All Saints’, Antrim, was positively brimming with Christmas spirit on Friday December 2 2022, when it hosted the Destination Christmas Event, organised by Engage Connor Youth.
There were Santa hats, reindeer horns and Christmas jumpers galore, as 80 young people came together to have festive fun and share in worship.
Destination is a series of events run by young people for young people, and while the young people took the lead, their leaders and clergy were also seen to be having a great time!
There was representation from parishes right across the diocese on the evening which began at 7pm with pizza and soft drinks for all, before the young people split into three groups for a variety of activities.
There was dodgeball and a game involving a net and lots of snowball-like balls in the main hall, gingerbread house building upstairs (with a lot of necessary finger licking!), and a variety of tabletop games in another section of the hall.
At around 8.30pm, the groups all converged in the main hall to worship together in song, led by the youth band from the United Parish of Christ Church and St John, Ballyclare.
Diocesan Youth Officer Christina Baillie said: “We were delighted to have so much support from across the diocese for Connor Youth Forum’s Christmas event, with 14 parishes attending.
“The young people from the Youth Forum planned the evening and led each aspect with such confidence and ability. We are so grateful to have amazing young people like them in our parishes!”
Thanking the band for leading worship, Christina added: “It was such a blessing and everyone really engaged well!”
Before heading back to their parishes, the young people and their leaders enjoyed some delicious hot chocolate.
One hundred and twenty young people and their leaders had a fantastic weekend in Castlewellan as the annual youth residential Connor Takes the Castle returned with a great big splash!
The young people, who had travelled from 12 different parishes, came together over two nights, with some attending for Saturday activities only, to enjoy, fellowship, worship and lots of fun.
There were guided sessions, music, outdoors activities including rounders and paddleboarding on Castlewellan Lake and the ever-popular Connor’s got talent.
This was the first time the residential has taken place since September 2019 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and Diocesan Youth Officer Christina Baillie said it was wonderful to get everyone back to castle once again.
Hayley Cullen from GB Youth For Christ was the weekend speaker and the Rev Lee Boal and the Rev Peter Blake led worship.
Christina said: “Connor Takes The Castle was a fantastic opportunity for young people from different parishes to grow in their knowledge of God and have loads of fun together.
“We’re so grateful to all the leaders and young people for coming and making it so special. From spectacular performances at Connor’s Got Talent to conversations over corn flakes, this year was a fantastic return to our diocesan residential.”
What fantastic work our young people are doing in Mossley Parish and surrounding area as part of the annual Streetreach project.
Forty one young people and leaders from 13 parishes in Connor Diocese, along with adult helpers from the Church of the Holy Spirit, Mossley, are taking part in the four day street mission.
For some of these involved, it was straight from the camp at Summer Madness on Tuesday to Mossley Parish Hall for a Streetreach kick-off dinner that evening, followed by team time, games and finally bed – the team are being accommodated at Ulster University in Jordanstown.
Streetreach continued on Wednesday and Thursday – we called into Mossley on Tuesday afternoon to capture the team involved in their different activities – check out the photo gallery below. The mission will finish on Friday July 8 after another full day.
Each day, the young people come together for breakfast in the parish hall, and this is followed by devotions led by visiting American interns Kayleigh and Preston Vaughn, discussions and prayers, and preparing for the afternoon activity.
After lunch the teams head out to fulfil their activity with one group doing outreach in the community including running children’s activities and picking up litter in New Mossley; another team praying for people on doorsteps and in the street; and another group running a very busy kids’ club inside and outside the parish hall.
The young people come back together again for dinner in the parish hall, an evening activity and debrief before heading back to their accommodation.
On Friday afternoon, they will run a community fun event and barbecue at the parish hall before packing up and heading for home after a busy few days.
Streetreach is organised by Diocesan Youth Officer Christina Baillie, Engage Connor Youth Council and the Rev Peter Jones, rector of Mossley Parish and parish volunteers.
The young campers at Summer Madness had a great time at the annual Christian youth festival Summer Madness from July 1-5 2022.
The sun may not have been splitting the trees at the new venue in Portglenone, and anyone who didn’t have their tent pitched early on the Friday evening might have struggled to get set up in a heavy downpour, but for the most part the weather was favourable.
Outdoor activities including football and volleyball have proved popular, and the different seminars in the various marquees drew interested young people. Then of course there was worship in the marquee…
For young people from Connor, including those visiting Summer Madness just for the day, the Connor Sub-Camp was a great place to meet, chill and, of course, eat, with Connor Youth Council providing a barbecue each evening.
We called by on Sunday for the big Connor barbecue, where the burgers and sausages were being turned by Connor clergy, with clergy and family also helping out in the salad area.
Young people from across Connor Diocese had a fantastic experience when they visited Escarmouche Action Park at Shane’s Castle, Antrim, on January 15 (see gallery below).
The event was organised by Christina Baillie, Diocesan Youth Officer, and Connor Youth Council in place of the annual residential which had been scheduled for Castlewellan Castle, but had to be cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Christina was determined that the Connor Takes the Castle event should still be based in the solid walls of a Castle, and the Escarmouche Action Park proved the perfect venue.
Groups of young people came from All Saints’, Antrim; St Michaels, Belfast; Drummaul; the United Parish of Ballynure and Ballyeaston; St Columba’s, Derryvolgie; St Nicholas’, Carrickfergus and Lisburn Cathedral.
Activities included laser tag, an assault course, tug of war and Connect 4 basketball. As it was a Saturday in the middle of January, it was chilly outside, and everyone was thankful for hot drinks and chips for lunch.
Christina said: “It was fantastic to see so many parishes come together for this event. In particular, I loved seeing connections being made between young people and leaders, and everyone having fun!
“The young people were fantastic at the various activities and really challenged themselves. We were disappointed to cancel the residential weekend, but delighted that we could still get together in a safe way.”
Christina said the Youth Council looked forward to organising more diocesan youth events in the coming months.