We are the Youth Working Group within the Presbytery of Ottawa. Here is the challenge (why we even exist), our vision, and our story.
One of the greatest challenges we have is: How to pass on our faith to the next generation?
While we wished it were easy to pass on our faith to others, we also believe that each individual is responsible for his/her faith and needs to personally respond to Christ’s call. Our responsibility is to help and support them on the journey.
Working within individual congregations (and even presbyteries), it is tempting to believe that “WE ARE THE CHURCH”, forgetting other congregations and denominations even exist! We are part of God’s body on earth, but the Church is made of up of all Christian congregations in the world (visible Church) and those Christians who lived and died and now are in heaven alongside Jesus (invisible Church). Our responsibility is to help youth realize they are not alone but belong to a much greater faith community.
The Presbytery of Ottawa came up with a multi-pronged plan to meet the challenge:
- Encourage individual Presbyterian congregations in the Ottawa region to develop programs to reach their youth;
- Support and provide training for youth leaders and anyone working with youth;
- Organize larger events that bring together youth from across the presbytery;
- Promote larger events that bring together youth from across Canada and even from around the world (focus on the larger body of faith- the Church);
- Network by building bridges among the Presbyterian congregations in the region, building bridges between Presbyterian youth and other Christian youth/youth groups in the region; and connecting in different ways to the Church around the world.
The first two goals focus on a youth’s individual faith development while the other goals focus on the larger body of faith – i.e., the Church – showing youth that their faith is theirs but they are not alone in their journey in faith. Their relationship to Jesus is one-on-one, but they are part of an innumerable number of Christians supporting and encouraging one another.
Our Story (or Turning Vision into Reality)
The Presbytery of Ottawa decided that to set up a Youth Working Group (YWG) and hire a Presbytery Ministry Animator.
The Youth Working Group
The Youth Working Group (YWG) was designed to have a representative from each congregation in the Presbytery. That way they brainstorm larger events, making sure the interests and challenges of their own youth is heard.
If a congregation can not send a representative to be a member of the YWG, then it provides the name of a contact person.
The responsibilities of the YWG would include:
- Planning and holding 2 or 3 special presbytery-wide events for youth throughout the year;
- Providing support and training for those who work with our Presbyterian youth within the region;
- Promoting special Presbyterian-wide initiatives such as Gracefield Christian Camp & Retreat Center; Canada Youth; and Youth in Mission.
The Presbytery Ministry Animator
The Presbytery Ministry Animator would be involved with the YWG but would also:
- network (primarily with congregations and with other Christian youth organizations in the region);
- organize and/or promote (as part of the YWG) 2 or 3 larger youth events each year;
- research and provide training: Research useful information for youth groups and their leaders, and provide Training (either directly or by finding resource people or programs who could) where needs have been identified.
So that’s who we are (the Youth Working Group), our story, and our vision/goal!