By Bethany Broadstock
“‘Beloved,’ said the Glorious One, ‘unless your desire had been for me you would not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek.’ And since then, I have been wandering to find him. And this is the marvel of marvels, that he called me Beloved…”- The Last Battle
When I was confirmed as a member of the Uniting Church, I wrote a speech. It was pretty and clean and included a quote from the last book of CS Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia as a nice, tidy way of finishing.
I made it through what must have sounded like a UCA promotional piece perfectly well. But when I came to the quote, when I came to speak aloud the reality that Christ calls me beloved, it brought me to very public tears in a matter of seconds. The power of the Spirit had rendered my speech embarrassingly insignificant.
That was the moment I realised I could spend my life on a path of safe discipleship which demands nothing of me, but the risk-filled ways in which God moves will always have little regard for that. I have never forgotten it.
I am a young adult in the Uniting Church today who is learning to walk with Christ. I am a young adult who has been summoned into a life which can only be described as constantly surprising, an everyday encounter with love and grace. In the process I have found myself growing deeply committed to the life of the Church and I am not alone.
At the end of January young adults actively involved in the life of the UCA were drawn from across the country to gather with national and key UCA leaders to play, to talk, to share, to encourage. It is the second time in two years the National Young Adult Leaders Conference has been held in Sydney, jointly hosted by the UCA President and the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress.
The conference has been dreamed and facilitated by people in the Church with a heart for empowering young people to harness their leadership potential in its many forms. It is designed to nurture us, invest in us, advocate for us and involve us at every level. In the conference, our need to gather together has been recognised. In bringing us together they allow us to see great things in each other.
In a time of ministry showcasing I was hugely encouraged by my friends. Some are running their own charities, some live and work remotely and some have actioned initiatives which bring together churches in their community which would otherwise be apart. Many are working with young people and some are candidates for ministry.
In them I see both greatness and humility. They are talented in a huge variety of ways, passionate about their church, strategic and forward thinking in growing communities and are honest in their relationships with each other. The covenant between the UCA and the UAICC is a living, breathing thing for them and they contend with it every day.
And they are leaders in the church right now.
When it speaks of youth and young adults, the Church in some places has had a tendency to use language confining us to a UCA of the future not yet realised.
We would be quick to say that we are offering ourselves for leadership in the many contexts which already exist in the church today. We will fight against language of ‘traditional versus contemporary’ in order that we may actively take part in the church we know and are proud of and actively take part in the mission of God.
NYALC, as it scatters through the country, joins previous participants to form an ongoing and continually growing network of support consisting of almost 130 young adults. It is a dynamic movement which can be called upon by key national and regional leaders as we seek to give rise to change.
The end of the conference is where it begins.
For more information Adrian Greenwood is on the NYALC facilitation team and is your local contact 03 9340 8812, firstname.lastname@example.org