The Methodist Children & Youth resource Voice Activated focused largely on encouraging local churches and projects to hear the voice of children and young people and to allow this voice to have an impact on decision making and planning.
This complementary resource moves us on a step further and explores ways in which the voice of children and young people can be heard beyond the Church in the wider world.
Once opinions have been gathered and the issues discussed, how do you help the groups and individuals you work with to influence change and make a real difference – on both a local, national and international scale, within the Church and in society?
How can we help children and young people channel their passions and interests in a way that will impact positively on their communities and help them to further their discipleship?
Voice Activated: Making Change Happen offers broad-ranging and comprehensive information and advice and will hopefully prove a useful tool for youth leaders and children’s workers – as well as for children and young people themselves.
For further information and resources go to childrenandyouth.org.uk/workers/resources
Few would have thought that during the genocide which claimed some 800,000 lives, Rwanda would be a setting in which Jesus’ command on forgiveness would become manifest. However twenty years on, such forgiveness is self-evident in Rwanda’s communities being rebuilt through healing and reconciliation. The role of the Methodist Church in this new Rwanda’s history is a significant one. Through links with the Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury District, teams have travelled to Rwanda almost every year to visit different churches, encourage the reconciliation and healing effort, work with youth groups and assist with ongoing pastoral training.
Head of the Methodist Church in Rwanda Bishop Samuel Kayinamura, spoke at a meeting in Birmingham during the Conference, commemorating the genocide. Following the meeting he expressed heartfelt thanks to the church for the difference it is making, notably in rural village communities. “They assisted our hospital (Kibogora) in the west of the country, they provide the goats in the communities for the Goat Project where they give goats to communities in the poorest villages where people don’t have much land. Goats mean they can have fertiliser and they can grow vegetables. And they have given people mattresses, in the rural villages they have small houses and don’t have mattresses. Their lives are improving.” he said.
After the genocide Rwanda also needed assistance in training new ministers and the Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury District came forward. Now, Samuel informs, Methodism in Rwanda is flourishing and eighty ministers have been trained as a result of the District’s training initiatives. “During the genocide some church leaders felt they didn’t know how to be, how to have this prophetic voice. Some of them went on the side of government so that now we have some ministers who are in the prisons but after genocide the churches contributed a lot. They went to the prisons to teach the prisoners and perpetrators how to repent and to accept what they did.”
Samuel, who was a primary school teacher when the genocide broke, out is heartened by relationships fostered by the children in schools in the District and in Rwandan schools and the interest of the children he visits here in their counterparts overseas. “At the schools they have many questions about what life in Rwanda is like and how the children live, how they go to school,” he said adding “we just want to thank you very much. Thank the Methodist Church in Britain who are helping especially the Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury District because they know very much our suffering and they come along with us to back us up, to tell people in Rwanda that they are with them in prayers and in action and we’re very happy to see them when they come to Rwanda.”
The Methodist church’s stance on the Israeli – Palestine conflict was addressed once again at this year’s Conference. Deliberating the conflict, particularly in expressing sympathy for the plight of the Palestinians, opens the church to accusations of anti-Semitism. Nevertheless, the church plans to call on members to take a stand.
Speaking after the Conference, District Chair John Howard, who has travelled to the West Bank, said “The Israeli-Palestine issue is a difficult one to raise because lots of people characterise you as having anti-Jewish feelings. Anti-Semitism quickly gets raised when the church begins to take a stance for justice for the Palestinians. We do find ourselves being characterised in ways which are negative but you have to have the integrity to face that kind of criticism.”
According to John Howard the Methodist church has led the other churches in raising the issue of the conflict.The continuing debate at Conference was a result of a motion passed last year. Previously, in 2010 a report called Justice for Israel and Palestine proposed a series of recommendations one of which is to galvanise support for Jewish and Palestinian peace groups through a range of methods, enabling church members, Methodists in particular to get to know more about what is happening and be better educated about the conflict. It was suggested that where possible, church members travel to Israel and Palestine and meet with those caught up in the struggles. Another recommendation was that church members boycott products of the illegal Israel settlements in the West Bank. “Last year a notice of motion was approved by Conference that we should take that forward into the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign and over the last year a report has been written by our consultation team which has presented the arguments for and against a boycott of all Israeli companies and products, similar to the boycott campaign against South Africa.” John Howard explained, adding “What Conference has agreed is to send that document to all of our churches for discussion in our churches so that’s a document that’s available.” (more…)
ALL WE CAN, (formerly Methodist Relief and Development) help people in some of the world’s poorest communities become ALL THEY CAN.
For a Harvest resource pack which includes: Inspirational worship resources, notes for sermons and talks for all ages, prayers, PowerPoint slides, a short film, ideas for school assembly and collective worship, song suggestions and more, visit www.allwecan.org.uk/harvest. Or telephone 0207 467 5132.