Opinion: Real need exists for more youth ministry

It's a cliché to say that the youth of the diocese are our future - lots of people have said it. However, it's often been difficult to see where that statement has been backed up with deeds. While several parishes have youth pastors or ministers, and some have strong Sunday school programs - many do not.

In recent years in the diocesan Synod Office, work that has been done on Christian Formation (the modern term for what used to be called "Christian Education") has been directed towards the education of adults, not youth. And now that Christian Formation position is empty, due to budget cuts.

in worship service at Camp Artaban this year

Still, there are some signs however of a renewed interest in youth ministry. A third Sorrento pilgrimage with the bishop is in the works. The Evangelism Unit's major event this fall will be an event for youth under 20 called (in the hip-hop argot) "Word Up," that will take place at Holy Trinity in Vancouver on November 6 and 7.

Our largest youth initiative, Camp Artaban, this year may reach about 600 youngsters, several more than last year, and Diocesan Council will be trying to figure out a way to support for diocesan camp on a more stable basis.

Youth workers within the diocese under the leadership of Samantha Cawker of Christ Church Cathedral and Rob Stringer of Holy Trinity, Vancouver, and many others have been meeting regularly to trade ideas and promote more diocesan efforts to reach young people, especially teens.

On both the diocesan and parish levels, all these efforts should be encouraged and strengthened.

Not every congregation need have a big youth program, of course. In a few cases, especially some smaller parishes, there just aren't any youth. But usually there are some, and there could be more. And nothing precludes any congregation from reaching out to the youth in their community - young people who are "churched," or not.