‘Youth aren’t the future, youth are the present’ (9.5.17)
The Revd Tatiana Ribeiro, Youth Network National Co-ordinator with the Anglican Church in Brazil, recently visited the USPG offices in London to tell us about some exciting new youth initiatives.
I am excited that at the Anglican Church of Brazil’s next synod, in June 2018, for the first time most the dioceses are electing young people to be a part of their delegations. This means we will have an expressive representation of youth present.
It means the youth will be able to feed into the decision-making process.
Our idea is that: ‘The youth aren’t the future, the youth are the present!’ So we want them there in the present, actively involved in what the church is doing and how it is making decisions.
Some of the youth have encouraged their parishes to have a youth committee. There is also a youth committee for the whole of Brazil – there are five of us on that committee looking at how we can empower the youth and get their voices heard.
In Brazil’s Anglican churches, the youth are saying they feel quite isolated from other youth – both youth in other churches and youth in general.
Brazil is so huge and diverse that the experience of youth is very different across the country. So it’s really important and helpful that we are starting to bring youth together at conferences and events and through a new online network and training programme.
One big issue is sexuality. Through this network, our youth are making friends with people who have different perspectives, lifestyles and points of view. It means the topic of sexuality is no longer an abstract theological idea, but something that is about real people and relationships. So the youth can hear first-hand different ideas.
The youth are currently discussing this topic, along with same sex marriage and different ways of being a family now that the nuclear family is no longer so common.
All of this work started after USPG sponsored a national youth conference in 2015 – before that we hadn’t had a youth conference for ten years. This conference gave youth and the clergy a huge boost of energy to take things forward. That conference was the seed for all the youth initiatives we are seeing today.
One of the initiatives we are most excited about is the new online programme, called ‘The Youth Deserve Special Attention’.
This online course enables our youth to connect with each other across the country, to get to know each other and look at the Bible together.
They are studying mission, church history and human rights. They will also learn about tools for community engagement and development.
Through these online conversations with people who have different views and different experiences of life, the youth are learning about tolerance and inclusivity and about how to work in communities to make a difference to people’s lives.