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August 2010

Team channels new youth worker’s energy

By Cory Miller

The Central South Island Methodist Synod has gone creative in its efforts to find a solution to a gap in youth ministry left since the previous youth worker moved away.

A new youth ministry team has been created, with a vision of re-energising youth and drawing them closer to Christ.

Rev Jill Van de Geer, Rev Alan Webster and Siu Williams-Lemi have together formed this unique partnership to meet the needs of the youth of the district.

Instead of a single person carrying the weight of all the youth, the ministry is to be shared between the three of them.

Central South Island Synod's new youth worker Siu Williams-Lemi (playing guitar)
is supported in her work by two presbyters.

Jill is the team co-ordinator. She says “It can be a stressful job, working on your own. That is why we have set up the team in this way, so that there are three people to share the load.”

“Youth ministry is a priority within the churches in the Central South Island, and the Synod is to be congratulated for their creativity in utilising its people resources to meet this need.”

The original plan was to replace the former youth worker with another single, full-time youth ministry coordinator. This was unsuccessful but the Synod was not prepared to let the matter drop. Rather, it looked at how it could achieve what was wanted when it couldn’t be done in the way it was originally conceived.

“Instead of going for a qualified experienced person, we decided to look for a person who had all of the qualities needed for the task and then equip them,” Jill says.

The idea was to then develop a supportive team to mentor, educate and enable the chosen candidate.

Alan is the team’s resource facilitator. He says Siu stood out as having these qualities.

She had long been recognised for her contribution and presence amongst the youth of the parish, he says.

“Siu was right here. She is gifted and she is able and she contributes enormously to the life of the church.”

After a series of informal discussions Siu applied for the job, was formally interviewed and appointed to the regional youth ministry coordinator position for the Central South Island as from the 1st June.

She is responsible to encourage networking amongst youth from as far south as Timaru and as far north as Rangiora, and to organise regular youth events.

“I see my job as equipping youth, helping them, and enabling them to become whole people, fulfilled in Christ,” says Siu.

It is no small task, with more than 100 youth in the synod and more than 10 active youth churches.

However she is not alone, as she is supported by Jill, Alan and the wider church community.

Siu, Alan and Jill feel that the team is bigger than the individuals in it. They and the wider Christian community want to enable Siu in her task of resourcing youth leadership within the Central South Island.

Through formal tertiary education and hands-on experience, the Synod is committed to enabling Siu to become fully equipped to carry out her role.

Already Synod has been impressed with the enthusiasm and vitality Siu has shown. The skill that has most impressed them has been the high energy she brings to all her tasks, particularly in emails sent out to the youth. They have been hitting with energy.

It is this energy this new youth ministry team hopes will also encourage other youth leaders to be inspired to begin their own developmental journey.