What’s been happening

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.

Young leaders complete SERVE course

Celebrating completing the SERVE course.

Another four young leaders in Connor have completed the SERVE course in preparation for continuing to lead in their local parishes!

SERVE is our Diocesan young leaders’ course for young people aged 15 and up. Through the autumn term, the group met over eight sessions to discuss different aspects of Christian leadership and get involved in tasks to develop their leadership abilities.

There was an opportunity to do different spiritual disciplines, lead a book review, learn more about how Jesus led and deliver a short talk!

This year, young people from All Saints’, Antrim, Lisburn Cathedral, Church of the Holy Spirit Mossley and St Brigid’s, Glengormley, took part in SERVE.

The SERVE course is delivered in partnership with the Hub, the Church of Ireland and Methodist residency at Queen’s University Belfast. Oliver Baird, Community Team Lead at the Hub, co-led the course with Christina Baillie, Connor Diocesan Youth Officer.

Christina said: “We were delighted with the four young leaders’ participation in the course over the past few months. They have stepped out of their comfort zone and grown as leaders. We can’t wait to see how they continue to serve in their local parishes and in other ways in the coming years!

“We’re grateful for the partnership with the Hub and it’s been great to have Oliver leading along with me week by week as well as different students from Connor Diocese and beyond involved at different parts of the SERVE course.”

Another SERVE course will be run in 2024 so if you are interested or know of any young people who would benefit from the course, please get in touch with Christina on christinabaillie@connordiocese.org for more information.

Young people celebrate ‘A Very Connor Christmas’

All smiles at ‘A Very Connor Christmas’ held in Portglenone Parish Centre.

Young people and their leaders from across the diocese came together in Portglenone Parish Centre on the evening of Saturday 2 December 2, for a Very Connor Christmas.

There was Christmas food home cooked by members of Ahoghill and Portglenone Parish, games, a quiz with seasonal questions posed by the Rev Jacob Mercer, worship and a talk by Jonny Diamond.

The cold and fog did not deter the young people, with groups present from Ahoghill & Portglenone; the Church of the Good Shepherd, Monkstown; All Saints’, Antrim; Dunluce; St Patrick’s, Broughshane; St Nicholas’, Carrickfergus; the Church of the Holy Spirit, Mossley; Christ Church Lisburn; and St Brigid’s, Mallusk.

Connor Diocesan Youth Officer Christina Baillie said: “Thanks to the hospitality team in St Colmanell’s and Portglenone Parish for providing a great feed of sausage and bacon baps for all of us, and to the Youth Council for putting together a fantastic night.

“We’re so grateful to all the leaders and young people who came along for a special evening together!”

Connor Takes the Castle 2023

Smiles at Connor Takes The Castle 2023.

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!

Launch

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.

Streetreach and Summer Madness 2023

Streetreach team 2023.

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.

Youth Forum’s coastal adventure

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.

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