What’s been happening

There’s been plenty going on to bring our young people together to enjoy worship, fellowship and fun. The reports below give a flavour of what has been happening in Connor in recent months.

Young people from St Paul’s, Lisburn, who picked up the Big Connor Contest Shield.

St Paul’s are Big Connor Contest champions!

In the third annual Big Connor Contest, teams from across the diocese came to St Paul’s, Lisburn, on February 9, to compete for the Big Connor Contest Shield.

The teams participated in volleyball, sock football, blatterball and 4 square throughout the day. With young people from seven parishes represented, it made for a competitive event.

The groups also took part in tug of war, before the leaders challenged the clergy to see who would come out on top in tug of war!  We won’t report the result but there was a slight numerical bias in favour of the leaders!

After a day of tough competition, the winner of the Big Connor Contest Shield was the host team, St Paul’s, Lisburn.

Christina Baillie, Diocesan Youth Officer said: “Thank you to all the young people and leaders who came along to take part in the event. A huge thank you to St Paul’s Parish for hosting us for the day. Thanks to all the Youth Council members who planned and led the day, making it such a great success.”

Christina added: “It was fantastic seeing groups who were coming along for their first diocesan event, as well as groups who attend regularly, getting to compete against each other.”


Youth Christmas Cracker and Giveaway

Festive fun at the Christmas Cracker event in Broughshane.

On a wintry December 1, young people from across Connor Diocese gathered in Broughshane for an afternoon of outreach and an evening of Christmas festive fun.

During the afternoon, teams of young people went door to door with information about local Christmas services, giving out sweets and carolling.

For the evening festivities, the young people were split into teams to compete in various Christmas task based games and for the finale – the Home Alone run – capping off the evening with doughnuts and a hot chocolate bar with a variety of toppings.

Diocesan Youth Officer Christina Baillie, who helped to organise the event along with Connor Youth Council, said: “It was fantastic to see the young people coming along to Broughshane and embracing the Christmas joy. We had a great reception for the outreach endeavours and it was very encouraging to see young people praying for people or encouraging them.

“A huge thanks to the Rev Andrew Campbell and those in Broughshane Parish for their support and for hosting us.”

Connor Takes the Castle

More than 90 young people and their leaders took part in the Connor Takes the Castle Youth weekend in September 2018.

The fifth annual Connor Takes the Castle residential in Castlewellan brought young people and leaders from nine parishes together for a fantastic weekend.

From arrival on Friday evening, September 7, until departure on Sunday lunchtime, the schedule was action packed, with late night walks around the lake, team sports, raving in the basement and the infamous Connor’s Got Talent.

James and Elise Turner from Church of the Resurrection led sessions, with Kate Peden from Space, Jordanstown, facilitating worship. Young people heard about faith and doubt, asking big questions, and, if they are doubting God, what they can do to grow in their faith.

Salt Factory Sports were there for the Saturday afternoon to create space for young people to make friendships over team games as they battled it out in volleyball, dodgeball, ultimate frisbee and more.

Diocesan Youth Officer, Christina Baillie said: “This weekend is fantastic for allowing young people and leaders from different parishes across the diocese to get to know one another, make connections and share their faith with others of the same age.

“Connor Youth Council puts together an incredible weekend with lots of activities as well as opportunities for discipleship for young people with the leaders they come with.”

Christina added: “It provides a great way to kick off the year and bonds groups so they are ready to head back to each parish enthusiastic and engaged.”

The dates for Connor Takes the Castle 2019 are confirmed as September 6-8, back in Castlewellan Castle, and Connor Youth Council would encourage any groups to join with them for this annual event.

If you would like more details or to discuss if it would suit your young people you can contact Christina Baillie on 07753312405 or christinabaillie@connordiocese.org

Streetreach in Glenavy and Crumlin

Kids’ club during Streetreach.

Connor Youth Council was excited to be back in Glenavy and Crumlin from July 3-6 2018, partnering with Glenavy Parish for a second year.

A team of 60, including a Christ In Youth team from America, meant lots could be accomplished across the few days. Each morning there was team time with teaching from a member of the Parish, followed by worship and discussion time.

The teams went out each afternoon and evening across the area to engage with the local community. During Streetreach the young people ran a free car wash, kids’ club, youth drop in, carnival and visited a local nursing home. While the teams were doing lots of practical things, often the main aim was to be able to make a connection and speak with people about who God is.

Several team members shared their testimonies with people in the community, prayed for business owners and gave out Bibles.

One of the team’s activities with a big impact was clearing an area where local young people would go to hang out. This area was full of rubbish and broken glass. The team spent several hours clearing the area, working incredibly hard to make it more pleasant for the young people to spend time in. This allowed conversations with the young people who would spend time here to explore if they had questions about faith.

Diocesan Youth Officer Christina Baillie said: “We are so thankful to the parish of Glenavy for their support and partnership over the last two years and in particular to the Rev John Rutter.”

Summer Madness 2018

Young people tucking into the barbecue at the Connor sub camp on Sunday evening.

The annual Summer Madness festival at glorious Glenarm Castle provided great opportunities for parishes from across the Diocese (nine in total) to bring a group of young people along to experience all that Summer Madness has to offer!

The young people attended main stage worship, listened to seminars, drank hot chocolate, sat in the sun, sang and danced late into the evening, played sports and prayed together. A lot packed into a couple of days!

Engage Connor Youth continues to provide hospitality to groups camping through the great skill of the Rev Canon Mark Taylor. The Connor Youth Council is indebted to Mark for all he does in cooking for all those attending.

Diocesan Youth Officer Christina Baillie said: “We were also very encouraged by all those from the Diocese who came to join us for the BBQ on Sunday. In particular, a big thanks to Dean Sam Wright, Archdeacon Paul Dundas, the Rev Andrew Campbell and the Rev Philip Benson for cooking the burgers, and to Archdeacon Stephen McBride for saying grace for us.

Christina was involved in two seminars during the festival. The first sharing about spiritual disciplines and encouraging young people to try out different ways of recognising God’s blessing in other aspects of their lives, with the second being a panel for youth workers about expectation that they face in ministry.

Visit from American Christ In Youth team

The Americans from Christ in Youth pictured in Shankill Memorial Park with Diocesan Youth Officer Christina Baillie during their walk around north Belfast.

Connor Youth Council hosted a group of American young people and their leaders from Christ In Youth for two weeks at the start of the summer. It was a busy trip for the Americans, as Connor Diocesan Youth Officer Christina Baillie reports.

Our American team arrived in sunny Northern Ireland on Wednesday June 27 to kick off a two-week stay in Connor Diocese. We had 25 young people and leaders from Christ In Youth. This is the second year Connor Youth Council has hosted a team.

This year we had young people from Kansas, Ohio, Oklahoma and Missouri. As the team got settled in, they received training for their service as part of the Event Crew during Summer Madness and what it would be like to be part of the team during Streetreach.

The team was given a tour of Belfast, stopping off at St Stephen’s Parish with the Rev Canon Jim Carson and Mrs Heather Carson, then heading up to the North Belfast Centre of Mission Connect Base to hear from Church Army Evangelist Karen Webb.

The team then travelled to glorious Glenarm to join with other young people and leaders at Summer Madness. Serving as Event Crew, the Christ In Youth team helped with health and safety, cleaned showers, collected rubbish and welcomed people to venues. The whole team got a glowing report from Summer Madness leadership!

As the team served at the festival and worshipped alongside the young people from Connor, the connections between Connor Diocese and America developed as they shared sporting advice, their experience of God and played games together.

The second stage of the team’s visit was participation in Streetreach. As the Streetreach group gathered on Tuesday evening, the Christ In Youth team mixed in with our Connor Youth in various teams that would be tasked with different activities over the next few days in Glenavy. They participated alongside young people and leaders from parishes all across Connor Diocese.

To finish up their trip, the team spent a day exploring the beautiful north coast, where they had their only experience of rain during their whole time in Northern Ireland with a 30 second shower!

On the same evening, there was a reunion for all the Connor young people to gather again with the Christ In Youth team before their departure. There were some epic Connor vs USA games played, with Connor coming out on top (I think!)

It was a joy seeing the young people spending time together after having served God together, worshipping Him together and challenging one another in their discipleship.

The team went to Church of the Resurrection at Queen’s University, Belfast, on the Sunday morning to share in their morning service. Catherine Forde and Ciaran Campton, young people from Church of the Resurrection who had participated in Streetreach, interviewed three of the Christ In Youth team about their experience. Together they prayed for the churches in America the team would return to, the Streetreach experience and the church across Ireland.

It has been fantastic to host another group from Christ In Youth and I would like to thank those leaders who accompanied the young people during this time; Brittany, Emilie, Lisa, Katelyn, Bob and Chris. We are already looking forward to your 2019 visit!

Youth teams compete in the Big Connor Contest 2018

Winners in the Big Connor Contest 2018.

Almost 100 young people demonstrated their sporting talents when they took part in the annual Big Connor Contest on Saturday February 24.

This year’s tournament, which attracted 12 teams from eight different parishes, took place in St Michael’s Parish Hall, Shankill Road.

There was plenty of good natured competition as the teams took each other on in volleyball, 4 square and blatterball. They also completed riddles and challenges to keep their brains active throughout the event.

And a record amount of pizza was eaten to combat all that running around!

Christina Baillie, Diocesan Youth Officer, said: “We loved having so many groups from across the diocese compete for the Big Connor Contest Shield. It was really closely fought between the teams with a very high level of sporting ability shown. A big thanks to Connor Youth Council and St Michael’s Parish for hosting us so well.”

The joint first place winners were St Mark’s Ballymacash, St Paul’s Juniors & Lisburn Cathedral Juniors.






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