Norwich youth charity welcomes Bishop as Patron
The Rt Revd Graham Usher, Bishop of Norwich, has become the new Patron of Norwich Youth for Christ.
Bishop Graham recently met with Director Nick Blanch and Chair of Trustees Margaret Smith, BEM to share thoughts and ideas for youth work, particularly post-Covid.
With a year of restrictions affecting contact with young people, it’s been a challenging time for youth workers nationwide. Despite this, Norwich Youth for Christ has innovated and adapted to the restrictions with much of its provision being offered digitally including youth worship, online gaming, YouTube vlogs and utilising new social media platforms such as Discord and Twitch.
Nevertheless, challenges remain for the church’s work with young people.
Director Nick Blanch said: “Research continues to show that church youthwork is in decline, with many churches no longer reaching out to young people, and that was before the pandemic hit. The temptation is to think of this as normal and become ambivalent, but we must do something about this.
“We are passionate about reversing this trend and so I am delighted that Bishop Graham shares our heart for reaching young people with the good news of Jesus and is willing to be our Patron. It comes just as the General Synod has announced that they want to double the number of children and ‘young active disciples’ in the Church of England by 2030. These are exciting plans and we want to do all that we can to drive that forward.”
The Rt Revd Graham Usher, Bishop of Norwich, said: “I am honored and delighted to become Patron of Norwich Youth for Christ. I am keen to engage with young people and hear their views about issues of concern to them, such as our climate emergency. They often have visionary ideas and energy that will enable the Church to grow and develop in our mission in the world. It will be a privilege to be closely involved in an organisation which seeks to build relationship between church communities and young people by sharing the love of Jesus.”
Norwich Youth for Christ have recently been delivering training to churches to equip and help them build a strategy to engage with young people. It has led to new projects being opened in Drayton and Stoke Holy Cross. Nick said: “I think we have to acknowledge that sometimes, accidentally, we have disempowered churches into thinking they can’t do it because they are not professional enough. I want the church to regain its confidence, both in the gospel and in their abilities to disciple young people.”
One such project has been with the church Together Loving Christ, which after receiving the training, opened a new youth club in April and is already engaging with local young people, the parish council and police.
Margaret, who has six grandchildren, three of whom still at school in Norwich, added: “We know the impact Covid has had on young people, from the stresses of home schooling, lack of social contact, closure of sports facilities and fake news in social media. That is all negative – but let’s grasp the opportunity post-Covid and in our churches take the opportunities to show young people that the gospel is relevant, exciting, challenging, and provide the resources needed to share the gospel with the next generation of Christians. Norwich Youth for Christ is there to help bridge the gap – what a powerful partnership that can be – may the Holy Spirit continue to guide and strengthen us all.”
Pictured above is Bishop Graham Usher (image: Luke W. Bryant, Diocese of Norwich). Below is a montage of Norwich Youth for Christ.