Youth Forum - A successful dialogue between youth and the church2012. június 19., kedd
With the intention to give young people an opportunity to let their voices be heard in the church, the Synod Office organised a youth assembly, targeting age groups between 16 and 23. The Youth Forum was designed following an already well-functioning pattern, the Scottish Youth Assembly, adopting the idea of promoting youth participation in the decision-making processes of the church Synod. This conference was the first ever of this kind in Hungary, and the Synod Office intends to convene it regularly.
The Youth Forum, which took place on 13-14 April, was organised by the Synod Youth Office with the aim to collect and evaluate the most up-to-date questions and demands of young people regarding the church. The Forum had the objective to build a bridge between young people and the church. In the course of the two-day conference, such crucial issues were targeted as the relationship between Reformed youth and sexuality, or the congregation as a community which aims to offer solutions to vital problems. The main idea of the Forum, which was to gather young people's opinions, was based on a model created by the Scottish Church.
The Youth Forum, which was organised by the Synod Youth Office, was preceded by an extensive online survey. Szabolcs Szontágh, head of the Synod Office's Youth department, called young people in a short video to express their needs towards to church, and to let their opinions and honest criticism be heard.
Over 4000 people viewed the clip and the online survey was filled in and submitted about 600 times. The submissions were completed by the results of the research made at the Star Point festival by sociologist and theologian Péter Deák. His survey questions also tackled the Reformed youth's opinion on religion and their views on sexuality. The topics of the Forum were selected from the most frequent questions which emerged during the evaluation of the questionnaires.
The team-building activity on the evening of 13 April involved a symbolic "bridge building", in the course of which the groups had to construct bridges using marshmallows and spaghetti. These individual bridges later on had to be linked. "Building a bridge is only possible if you have a firm point for starting", as Szabolcs Szontágh highlighted in his devotional. Everybody needs a firm point as the avalanche of emotions, impressions and thoughts invades their life. This point is God's Word, the only sure foundation in this world of changes.
The main questions were discussed in five groups, and the debates went on for three hours. Young people between ages 16-23 discussed such important issues as the church's taboos, prejudices, obsoleteness and confinement of freedom. Again and again, the importance of healthy communication arose in the discussions, as did the church's distrust for young people, the danger of ignoring young people's opinions. These things have the potential to become a threat to the church's credibility, a source of conflict. Still, through an open dialogue between generations a unity can be established, in which the church as a community-forming and preserving power is able to renew itself and, at the same time, function keeping its original values. Out of the presentations some valuable and honest criticism emerged, which targeted such issues as the necessity of more up-to-date training of ministers, the church liturgy or the songs used in worship.
As the Forum concluded, the young delegates expressed their hope to continue the discussions in the future. The relaxed atmosphere of the event was a guarantee for success, as it provided the best circumstances for view points to be brought closer. The organisers were satisfied with the outcome of the conference, and, based on the Scottish pattern, they intend to organise another Forum next year.
Katalin Burns, photo: Krisztian Sereg
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Reformed Church in Hungary
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PO Box: 1140-Budapest, 70, Pf. 5
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English and German worship services in Budapest
If you speak English and you stay in Budapest, we invite you to visit the service of St. Columba's Presbyterian Church (The Scottish Mission).
Wenn Sie in Budapest verweilen und gerne an einem deutschsprachigen Gottesdienst teilnehmen, dann besuchen Sie die Deutschsprachige Evangelisch - Reformierte Kirchgemeinde in Budapest
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