Youth Work Update – Summer 2017
In the weeks before Easter, Gary Bott (Baptist Youth Work Director) and I taught 16 classes at Mayflower high school to years 7 and 8 (11 to 13 yrs old) about the events surrounding Jesus' death and resurrection. It was great to be in the Religious Studies department almost every day speaking to students and staff. The lessons were well received and opened the door for teaching years 9 and 10 (14-16 yrs old) about Christians in the Community, which is part of the GCSE curriculum. I have been able to give lessons with support from the department staff about content and group work.
Gary and I were also able to assist the Mayflower RS department as they took Year 7 students to Rochester Cathedral and Gravesend Gurdwara. The young people were well-behaved and asked lots of questions of the tour guides. It has been a really interesting time at Mayflower High School over the last term and I am praying that we will still be the opportunity be able to host a prayer space before the end of term.
Transforming Lives for Good (TLG)
In the last update I mentioned the work of TLG, a Christian charity which brings hope and offers a future through education to children and families going through a difficult time. In May leaders from Billericay churches were invited to the TLG Essex Awards Ceremony dinner when two children who had shown exceptional improvement over the last year received awards. I attended the dinner along with Rev Margaret Fowler, Gary Bott, Jane and Andy Robb (Revival Church Billericay), Ruth Strickland, Sally Grimes and .... (Schools Ministry Billericay). The evening encouraged us to dream big for the future of TLG in Billericay. It would be a town-wide initiative to support young people and children who are struggling in full time education. Please keep praying for SMB as they seek the way forward.
The Holiday Bible Club at Christ Church was very well attended and loved by all the children who joined us over three days in Holy Week. Thank you to everyone who supported us during that week. Eastingle was quieter this year and we think that was due to lack of publicity. We hope that next year we’ll be able to promote it more effectively.
After Easter we were joined by a couple of young people from Emmanuel Church as their main youth group leaders were taking a break to welcome their first child. The leaders were really happy with the transition that happened and we’re really pleased to be able to help out.
We opened SPACE for the first time on Friday, 21 April. SPACE is the half an hour before youth group when the young people can come for conversations with the youth group leaders to seek guidance on an issue affecting their lives, to ask questions about faith or to have a time of prayer. The team have seen a positive response to this, including the young people wanting to be in the building to help set up for the evening. It is really good that the young people are showing that they care about the Church building and its contents.
This term youth group are raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support in memory of a Granddad who passed away recently and it’s going very well so far. Tiana and Sophie held a bake sale straight after school on a Friday afternoon and raised over Ł50. Tiana also held a bake sale on 14 July for her Aunt who is in need of treatment.
Recently we have been saddened by Bishop John’s news about his treatment coming to an end. The young people met him in June 2016 when he blessed our notice boards and we have been able to pray for him as a group in recent few months. June, one of the youth team volunteers, said ‘I will remember them praying altogether for the rest of my life.’ Praying together is important for us now and we will continue to hold Bishop John in our prayers.
7-9 July – Solid Youth festival – please pray for the leaders and young people as they spend the weekend at Stubbers Activity Centre
22 – 27 July – CPAS Falcon Afloat – Please pray for Liz and Ray and their team as they welcome 20 young people on the FACT Light Ship at Tollesbury.
Please pray for Liz and Ray as they prepare to welcome their baby boy into the world.
Spark met at the end of April for a games afternoon. It s a friendship group for our church teenagers that meets roughly once a half term. Using both physical and mental challenges, Jane Howell provided an entertaining afternoon for our young people. They relish competition in a friendly environment and are looking forward to a Ninja Warrior style challenge in late June.
Last Summer we offered free drinks and snacks to young people at our Pokemon event. This Summer I am planning to offer refreshments to young people when they pass by going to and from Lake Meadows and am hoping they will stop by to have a catch up with their friends.
Outreach Youth Worker
Youth Works Update - Spring 2017
Reports and Training
The New Year brought in a lot of new reports from Youth Scape (a Christian youth work agency), Ely Diocese and the Children’s Commissioner, so in the midst of preparing for a new term I was able to read these reports and reflect on the Youth Work Audit that Mark Tiddy (Bradwell Area Youth Adviser) had prepared for us at Christ Church during 2016. Both the reports and the Audit say the same thing – there must be a focus on working with children and young people – teaching them about faith and encouraging them to seek fellowship and to follow Christ. There are a lot of young people who are seeking answers from faith groups and we must be available and ready for those questions. One report, ‘Rooted in the Church of England’ also mentioned supporting paid and volunteer workers more fully in their roles, which for me was backed up by attending a day on ‘Managing Volunteers’ which was hosted by the diocese. Margaret and I will be looking at the job description for all the youth work roles in the coming months and seeking the input of those who spend their time teaching and supporting our young people as we write revised descriptions.
In January I had the opportunity to attend the National Youth Evangelism Conference, with Mark and Hannah Phillips (Barking Area Youth Adviser). Jimmy Dale is the new National Youth Evangelism Adviser and used the day to ask several youth advisers, vicars and youth workers to speak into how to support churches as they reach out to young people across the country. We had good discussions throughout the day as to how to support churches who have little or no youth work.
This term has been all about booking in lessons for Easter. Gary Bott (Baptist Minister) and I have been visiting every week the Religious Studies department at Mayflower School to speak to the staff and support them. We are teaching year 7 and year 8 before the Easter holidays as a way of following up from the Christmas lessons that took place last term. Gary and I continue to develop the lunch time club, which now runs on a Tuesday and we are happily supporting the pastoral staff and other teachers during Thursday lunch times in Community Support.
Youth Group have surprised me this term and surpassed my expectations. We set out to get the young people to raise Ł8 to send to Kenya to help those who are treating foot parasites, called jiggers. At the time of writing we have raised a total of Ł85 and we’re looking to raise Ł100 before 31 March 2017. I will let you know how we do!
We were all saddened by Bishop John’s news that his care is now palliative and the youth group gathered together to pray for him and agreed to sign a card and have a photo taken to send to him in the near future. We loved it when he visited us with Mark Tiddy and blessed our notice boards!
We celebrated the beginning of Lent with a Pancake Party inspired by the Church Urban Fund campaign to make people think and to raise money for families who go without food during the school holidays. ‘Holiday Hunger’ is something that is really close to my heart, so it has been really good to raise money and welcome families from our local schools into the building for an afternoon of food and fun.
You may have noticed that our bookcases have disappeared and the building is slowly changing. We are moving slowly towards renovation and part of that was to send our books to a charity called Book Aid. There were four large boxes of books, bible study notes, biographies, children’s books and commentaries that were delivered to Book Aid, who will then use them to raise money and send them on to countries who don’t have access to these resources. The small hall is slightly less cluttered because of it and we are looking to employing a carpenter to build cupboards around the TV for the technology, tables, and other boxes at the far end of the room.
On Ash Wednesday, Spark met together to celebrate Shrove Tuesday. We made and ate pancakes and chocolate. Spark is for our 11 to 14 year olds and serves to build their friendship group and provide a place for support and fellowship. We finished our afternoon with a game of Uno.
Plans continue to gather pace for CPAS’ holiday Falcon Afloat. Ray (my husband) and I are in our second year of overall leadership. We run the holiday for young people who are disadvantaged, and we’re excited to be partnering with Make Lunch Barnet to provide a holiday for some of their members this year. We’re looking for people who will pray and support us as we prepare and talk to other leaders and young people. Please make contact with me if you would like more details.
Transforming Lives for Good (TLG)
Finally, Gary Bott and I spent a morning with TLG (Transforming Lives for Good), learning about early intervention and education programmes that encourage young people and children to open up about their experiences at school. Gary and I are eager at the prospect of supporting children and young people who are struggling at school because their home life is not stable, or they have been identified by their teacher as needing additional space and time to discuss their thoughts and feelings. These children or young people are often on the verge of exclusion or have been bullied. Each ‘Life Coach’ (an adult from a local church who has been trained) spends an hour a week with their chosen child for a whole school year. All of the stories that we heard from local ‘Life Coaches’ and quotes from teachers were incredibly positive. I’m hoping and praying that this is something we can take forward in partnerships with our local schools.
Easter Holiday Bible Club
During the Easter Holidays we will be hosting a Holiday Bible Club (11-13 April). Everyone from Reception to Year 6 is welcome to join us. Please contact the Church office for more details (01277 630144).
We are working on our response to the Youth Audit which took place in the autumn term. There are a few plans to help our young people to connect better with church and the spirituality they are seeking. As Schools Ministry Billericay we are looking to host a Prayer Space at Mayflower School shortly after the exams begin. Please pray that there is a good reception for us to this.
We will also be supporting Mayflower School during their places of worship trip with year 7.
Please continue to pray for our young people and the pressures that they face. The summer term is just around the corner and they are facing exams and end of year assessments. A few of them are doing music exams on top!
Youth Update - December 2016
We started off the month by welcoming year 3 and 4 pupils (7 to 9 yr olds) from St John’s and Brightside Schools to a School’s Ministry Billericay (SMB) initiative called ‘A-maze-ing Christmas’. We welcomed 50 St John’s pupils and 150 Brightside pupils over a period of two days.
In small groups the children discovered parts of the Christmas story by travelling around the church and visiting a table that was curated by an adult. Several members of Christ Church volunteer for SMB and so we had additional help as well. It was a real team effort to get the building ready and provide a welcoming atmosphere for our visitors. A lot of the teachers and helpers were really complimentary about the work of SMB and their time spent at Christ Church.
Mayflower High School
I spent a lot of my time in Mayflower High School during the last three weeks of the Christmas term. The Religious Studies department invited Gary Bott (Baptist Youth Minister) and me to teach Years 7 and 8 (11 to 13 yr olds) about the Christmas story. Over a period of two weeks, approximately 480 students heard the Good News of the baby born in a manger and they asked some very searching questions too!
The Head of Student Progress, Mrs Streek, invited me to take part in the preparation for the student charity fundraiser for the Mayflower Christmas Market. We spent a couple of hours preparing food and then had 15 minutes of fun as the students tried to sell their creations to one another. Each year there is a competition to see who has raised the most for charity and the whole school community comes together to support this activity.
December was a great month for Mayflower High School, and I rounded off a busy 2016 with the Sixth Form Revue and a visit to the Religious Studies department for a Christmas celebration. I am definitely looking forward to what 2017 will bring in the way of schools work.
Christ Church Groups
Over the Autumn term the Ignite team were looking at putting together our own Nativity script. We worked really hard to draw out the young people's ideas about a modern Nativity story which was presented at the Celebration Sunday Nativity Service on 22 December. I was really pleased with how it turned out. We learned a lot together about the Christmas story and why Jesus needed to be born in Bethlehem. It has been great to see the young people growing in their understanding of Jesus’ birth and the importance of it all.
Youth group numbers are still growing. If you would like to pray for the members on our list, please take a card from the welcome table in Christ Church. It has made a huge difference to have the church praying for Friday evenings.
The young people have been responding so generously to the challenge to support charities locally. After showing a video from Little Havens Children’s Hospice and listening to Frank Copper’s story about his struggle with cancer, he was given a massive round of applause. Several young people told of their experience of cancer as a number of them have relatives who have been affected.
I didn’t know how the Christmas term would turn out but I have been touched by the responses from the Friday Night Youth Group. On our Christmas party evening, I received a heavy box all wrapped up for me to open on Christmas Day and a large jar full of small change for The Children’s Society. I also received two Christmas cards which were more like ‘thank you’ notes.
Members of Spark celebrating Christmas at Sprinkles Gelato, Basildon
As we start the New Year it is already looking really busy. I'm hoping we’ll be able to host a pancake party for all ages in the large hall on 28 February after school, that there will be a Holiday Bible Club at Easter, and that there will be more lessons for me to take at Mayflower High School. Please keep praying for everyone who is involved in youth work at Christ Church, for the SBM volunteers, and for all those who work with youth in our local area.
I pray for our young people daily that they would come to know Jesus Christ, and in 2017 I want to encourage them more to seek Him in their every day lives, so please pray that God would have me speak boldly to them.
Youth Update – August 2016
It’s been a very busy Summer!
During July my husband Ray and I led “Falcon Afloat” which is a Churches Pastoral Aid Society (CPAS) holiday camp for young people who face disadvantages in their lives. We welcomed 19 young people on to the light vessel ‘Trinity’ which is owned by Fellowship Afloat Charitable Trust and were moored at Tollesbury Marina, Maldon.
During the week one girl made a decision to follow Jesus during our time together. We had such a great time that about 75% of the young people said they would love to come back to Falcon Afloat next year! These are just two highlights from a very busy four days of activity. Please continue to pray for all who were involved during camp.
The last fortnight in August has been spent preparing for the start of the new school year, as well as hosting two ‘Pokémon Go’ events just before the children went back to school. Pokémon Go is a game that a lot of our young people have on their ‘phones. The have to “catch” creatures called Pokémon, do battle with them in gyms (Christ Church is one!), and visit PokéStops to collect items to catch Pokémon. I promise it is not as complicated as it sounds!
Over the course of four days, we gave out for free 48 bottles of Pepsi, 48 bottles of 7UP, and lots of water to passers-by who were playing the game. The idea to open the church and give out refreshments came from Chelmsford Cathedral who hosted a similar event at the beginning of the summer. One parent responded via text message “Just wanted to say thank you for today, Pokémon. My boys had a great time. Thanks for drinks and snacks.” And another member of the public mentioned us on Facebook, saying that it was great that we are providing refreshment for others during the hot weather!
Youth Group begins on 9 September and we have a jam packed term ahead. Mark Tiddy the Bradwell Area Youth Adviser will be visiting on a Friday evening again (he was the other team member from Falcon Afloat who sustained an injury shortly after the week finished), we will be raising money for Children in Need, celebrating birthdays and Christmas all by the 16th December. If you would like to know more about youth group, please do ask, or have a look around the website for more details, or you can find information on the new notice board in the atrium!
Light Party – 31 October 2016!
We are also in the midst of planning a Light Party on 31 October, with the help of a Christian company called Scripture Union. It’s going to be an evening of light filled activities for all ages, so please keep an eye out for posters and registration forms. I will be looking for people to help out as well!
We are also looking ahead to the Harvest Festivals, with our local Primary Schools (Buttsbury and Brightside) booked in to celebrate at Christ Church, as well as our uniformed groups joining us at our Harvest Celebration Sunday Service on 18 September 2016.
…. and there’s more!
I have also got some training events booked in and an audit of the youth work to do with Mark Tiddy and Rev Margaret. Please keep me in your prayers over the next couple of months.
Have an awesome autumn!
Youth Update – June/July 2016
Liz Skudder, Youth Outreach Worker
Shortly after the last update the Friday evening Youth Group had three very special visitors - Bishop John of Bradwell, Mark Tiddy the Bradwell Area Youth Adviser,and Rev Margaret Fowler joined us for an evening of football, chatting and most importantly the grand opening of the youth work notice boards. If you have been in the atrium recently you’ll have noticed that the wall hanging of Moses is now gone and there are two new notice boards in its place. The notice boards will be regularly updated with youth group news and other important events, so please keep an eye out for what is going on.
I have been very busy in June and July teaching years 7 and 8 with Schools Ministry Billericay (Ruth, and Gary). Lessons about Christian Worship followed the Mayflower High School Year 7 trips to Rochester Cathedral and Gravesend Gurdwara, and Year 8 had a tough time getting their heads around salvation as part of their lessons about the life of Jesus. I had some really good conversations with both year groups and members of staff during the time I spent in school. Ruth (SMB worker and Key Stage 3 co-ordinator) has begun her maternity leave – so there is going to be lots of extra work to do in September within Mayflower School.
Sue, Ruth, Lydia and I also spent a morning at Buttsbury Junior School with four Year 6 classes, discussing the transition from Junior School to Secondary School. A lot of Year 6 will be going to Mayflower in September so the lessons are a good opportunity to learn some names and faces before the academic year starts again.
The 15 young people who booked places at SOLID were joined by Trish, Sean, Darren, Claire and myself for a whole weekend in at Stubbers Activity Centre. They had lots of fun learning about our God who can do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:14-21) and getting wet on various outdoor activities. You can have a look at the video here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2C_czUVoCWw.
Please continue to pray for the young people and leaders as they walk together over the next year. We are going back to SOLID in 2017 and hoping to attend Soul Survivor 2017 as well.
Falcon Afloat is overseen by the Churches Pastoral Aid Society (CPAS) and provides a break from regular life for disadvantaged young people. CPAS have been running Falcon and Venture holidays for a number of years.
Please pray for me and my husband, Ray, as Falcon Afloat takes place from 23 – 28 July. We are overall leaders for the first time this year and have spent months preparing the four days of camp. We will be joined by seven adult helpers from across the country, the Fellowship Afloat Charitable Trust Team, and of course 20 young people with an age range between 10 - 14 years. I am excited to be taking 4 young people from Christ Church, so please pray that they would come to know Jesus in a deeper way and experience His love at Falcon.
We will be taking a break after Falcon Afloat and I will be back at work in the middle of August. Have a great summer!
Youth Update - 2nd June 2016
Liz has been busy since August of last year. Over the academic year there have been lots of opportunities to share the gospel and spend time with the young people at youth group and church families. We’re almost half way through the last term of the year and it is a wonder where the time has gone.
Since returning from Kandersteg in August, Liz has been back in school running the Mayflower lunchtime group and supporting the work of Schools Ministry Billericay. In October they were welcomed into Mayflower to run a Prayer Space for around 30 Religious Studies groups. Liz, along with Gary, Ruth, Shirley, Jane and Jen provided space for the young people to explore their relationship with prayer and worship. The young people welcomed the challenge of reflecting on their lives and thinking about communicating with God. Young people are busy all the time at school, so a quiet hour in the week is unusual. The R.S. department were grateful for the space too. Please pray for the young people who came through the prayer space during the week. SMB are hoping that the Prayer Space will return in October 2016.
Looking back over the latter half of the term, the focus was on those visiting the building. Year 10 experienced what it is like to be cold in the church building and helped set up for filling shoeboxes as part of a Slum Survivor evening. Margaret and Liz welcomed Year 3 to church for a morning of discovery. Christ Church welcomed Rainbows and Cubs for their own Carol Service for the very first time and then Beavers, Scouts, Brownies and Guides followed later on in the week. On Christmas Eve the doors were opened for 800 people to join us in our Christingle Celebrations.
In the New Year, Liz began to look at renovating the small hall. Darren, Les and Graham did all the hard work with moving the TV and the young people have appreciated having the room ‘round the other way. Ignite have also liked the change too, saying it makes the room feel bigger. More changes are afoot having had the faculty for new notice boards agreed by the Archdeacon of Southend.
The youth group has been raising money for various charities, the most recent being the Make A Wish Foundation. There is a steady attendance of 25 a week with 100 names on the books. If you would like to help out at youth group, please do let Liz know.
The Ignite team and the Friday Night Team have been working together and met on St George’s Day/Shakespeare’s Birthday/The Cockcroft’s wedding anniversary for a champagne breakfast! The met to discuss how to reach out to young people and begin the conversations about the work of both teams. It was a really good morning and hopefully there will be more opportunities for training and prayer together.
Since Easter Liz has been to Rochester Cathedral and Gravesend Gurdwara with year 7 and has begun to plan for SOLID! She is very excited about the 15 young people who have booked their places. The Friday night team will be welcoming the Bishop of Bradwell and the Bradwell Area Diocesan Youth Officer on 17th June. Finally, Liz and her husband Ray are leading Falcon Afloat this year, in Tollesbury – a massive undertaking but they both have plenty of experience and prayer behind them.
Please keep praying for the young people as they come into our congregation and building. There is much more to report, so please speak to Liz if you would like to know what is going on