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Youth Work

Methodism shared fully in the world-wide organizations (Girls' and Boys' Brigades, Guides and Scouts) which sprang up in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The Wesley Guild began as a youth movement in 1896. Christian Endeavour, which took root in PM, produced people articulate about their faith.

Government Circular 1486 The Service of Youth (1939) urged young people to join youth clubs and Methodists seized this opportunity for informal youth education. The Methodist Youth Department, set up in 1943, brought together the Sunday School Department and the Wesley Guild, as a basis for new work with the 12-20 age group.Douglas Griffiths became the secretary responsible for Youth Clubs. The ??? (set up in1945) became one of the largest church-based youth organizations in Europe. Following the Albemarle Report (1960), partnership with Government led to purpose-built youth centres and grant-aided staff. But the 1979-1997 Conservative Governments found the non-directive culture of parts of the Youth Service unacceptable and substantially reduced financial support.

From 1973 the Division of Education and Youth aimed to integrate formal and informal education. The Connexional Team (1996) brought further integration. From 1992 World Affairs Youth (formerly the Youth Missionary Association) evolved into MAYC World Action, sharing with young people in imaginative campaigns on social and global issues. The review by Districts, Now for the Nineties! developed into Charter 95, the younger generation's vision of the Church which Conference accepted in 1995.

Methodist youth work, understood as Christ's mission among those between 13 and 25, shares established values with young people, even as it empowers them to realise their own potential. Since 1990 the emphasis has moved from participation, through empowerment, to a constitutional place for young people in the Conference. More recently there have been two further initiatives: (1) In 1995 Conference set up an annual Methodist Youth Conference (renamed the 'Youth Asssembly' in 2009), with District and wider representation. This conference has the constitutional right to bring resolutions directly to the Methodist Conference itself and to appoint representatives both to that Conference and to the Methodist Council. (2) The 2008 Conference gave its approval to the setting up of a Connexion-wide Youth Participation Strategy, with a budget of over 4 million for a five-year pilot scheme involving part-time District Youth Enablers and seven connexion-wide 'regional participation officers'.

Sources

  • Annual Reports of the Connexional Sunday School Council, Youth Department and Division of Education and Youth
  • MAYC: the Story in Pictures (1986)
  • Gareth Lloyd, [catalogue of] Division of Education and Youth (Manchester, 1995)
  • Brian Frost, with Stuart Jordan, Pioneers of Social Passion (Peterborough, 2006) pp. 143-57

Entry written by: CHS and SRH
Category: Subject

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