There is always plenty going on for young people across the Diocese of Connor, both at parish and diocesan level. This is a snapshot f what at young people have been up to! For information on activities involving our young people, please contact Diocesan Youth Officer Christina Baillie at Christinabaillie@connordiocese.org.
What a weekend it was for our young people, with around 120 enthusiastically joining in the fun at the annual Connor Takes the Castle youth residential in Castlewellan from October 6-8. Check out our Gallery below.
They came from parishes right across the diocese, with some young people attending from Friday to Sunday, and other groups joining for a full, action-packed day on Saturday.
And during the afternoon, it was all about action with a laser tag arena from The Fun House, and volleyball, tug-of-war and lots more energetic games organised by Salf Factory Sports in the wide-open space beside Castlewellan Lake.
The impressive Castlewellan Castle was the venue for the weekend’s indoor events, which included games, challenges, and inspirational words from guest speakers Millie and Lawrence Bellew. Lawrence is young people and community pastor at Hope Church, Craigavon and Millie is Down and Dromore Diocesan Children’s Development Officer.
Well done to Connor Youth Officer Christina Baillie, the Rev Danielle McCullough, Chair of Connor Youth Council, all the dedicated leaders and, of course, the young people, for making it a fantastic weekend!
Games are not just for children – a point illustrated amid much laughter at Connor’s 2023 Launch event on September 2! See our Gallery below.
At this now annual event, youth and children’s ministry leaders from across the diocese came together to be encouraged and resourced for the year ahead.
The event, held at St Patrick’s, Broughshane, was organised by Diocesan Youth Officer Christina Baillie and Children’s Ministry Development Officer Victoria Jackson. Fifty-one leaders from 17 different parishes and parish groups came along be resourced – and have some fun at the same time!
After refreshments and a welcome from Christina and Victoria, Bishop George Davison shared a biblical reflection and led prayers.
Christina invited Beverley Ringland, Christ Church, Lisburn, who spoke about the growing success of JAM youth ministry within her parish.
Key to growth was the linking into diocesan activities, Beverley said, with young people attending the Connor Takes the Castle youth weekend – last year there were five attended from Christ Church and this year the parish will be sending 11 young people – the diocesan Christmas event last December and Summer Madness.
Beverley said that Messy Church have been revived, with, a leaflet sent to schools. A Messy Church date turned into a family fun night, which attracted 90 families, including many who were not members of Christ Church. A video of the event showed just how successful it had been – and how much fun everyone had had on the night!
“Everything is coming together. At Synod, Bishop George talked about growing healthy churches,” Beverley said. “That challenged me to think about how we would do it and I asked our prayer group to pray for our young people. On my own, I can do nothing, but when we are together, we can do so much.”
Following Beverly’s inspiring talk, leaders involved in youth ministry left for a workshop led by Christina, while Victoria introduced Chris and Ross from Play it By Ear Christian drama group. Chris and Ross introduced a variety of games for children – by encouraging all the leaders to try them out. A challenge accepted by all which, as our photographs show, prompted much fun and laughter!
At lunch, the two groups came back together for questions and discussions, before the event drew to a close.
The young people of Connor Diocese enjoyed a great start to summer 2023! First there was the annual Summer Madness camp which ran from June 30 until July 4 in the fantastic surroundings of Glenarm Estate.
There may not have been wall to wall sunshine, but the weather didn’t deter those young people and leaders who came to camp or to spend a day at the annual Christian youth festival, with the Connor sub-camp buzzing with food and fellowship.
Clergy and leaders ensure a ready supply of barbecue, and the annual Sunday barbecue, with Bishop George Davison helping flip the burgers, was a great success!
Diocesan Youth Officer Christina Baillie said: “What an amazing time! Huge thanks to all the groups who came, camped, day tripped, helped with the catering and for all of you who made Connor Sub Camp so special!”
Hot on the heels of Summer Madness was Connor Streetreach which ran from July 4-7 in partnership with the Grouped Parishes of Ballyrashane & Kildollagh, the Grouped Parishes of Ballintoy & Dunseverick with Rathlin Island and St Patrick’s Coleraine & St Andrew’s Ballysally.
The young people were involved in organising kids’ clubs, outreach, practical and prayer teams across all the parishes, with pop-up prayer meetings in each church.
Bishop George joined by young people for an evening debrief in Dunseverick when they shared stories and spoke about what God has done during the second day at Streetreach, with the Bishop reading from Philemon and sharing an encouragement to the team to never underestimate how God can use us, even in the little things.
Our album below includes images shared on social media by Engage Connor Youth and some of the parishes who took part in Summer Madness and Streetreach 2023.
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.