Yurora 17 was a diverse community made up of young people and adult volunteers all seeking a better understanding of God’s passion for us and our passion to serve God’s ways. It was a community made up of First and Second Peoples and overseas guests. It was a community that spoke multiple languages, danced many different ways, dressed in different outfits and yet found unity in a desire to discover, deepen and celebrate passion – a passion for God, and for God’s purpose. We were challenged, encouraged, strengthened and fed.
Worship, both in communities and whole gathering rallies, was one of the high points of Yurora 17. In worship we listened to God’s word, sang, prayed, danced, wept and laughed. Worship was full of energy and joy, led by and for young adults in ways that honoured God and the many gifts God has given.
As well as community groups and worship there were concerts, workshops, creative spaces, hanging-out-together spaces and play spaces. These provided opportunities to have fun, get to know strangers, ask questions of faith and meaning and explore the many ways people respond to God’s call on our lives to be a disciple.
Many young people return from Yurora 17 with a renewed desire to grow in faith and serve God through the Uniting Church. I rejoice in this.
Yurora 17 happened because of the effort of a large group of adult volunteers. These volunteers are aged from early 20s to their late 80s. They cooked, cleaned, took care of technology and ran around doing lots of boring jobs. They also acted as chaplains, workshop leaders and Bible study leaders.
They did it because they want to see young people have life-changing encounters with God and because, in their ministry of service, they too have life-changing encounters with God.
One of the gifts of the Uniting Church is its intergenerational nature. We need each other and we need to make space for each other. If those of us who are older are willing to listen, to learn and make space for children and young people not only will we gain new insights into the ways of God, but our faith will be renewed. As a synod we need to find ways to do this so that we might give real effect to our mission priority of ministry with, for and to children, youth and young adults.
I am still carrying with me words from the multicultural worship rally on the last night. Queensland minster Rev Fa Matangi said to the young people in the church: “We are coming to worship God.”
Young people are already serving and worshiping in the church. They long to be more fully included in ways that make sense to them. They want to worship, to grow in faith and to serve. They are coming.
Yurora 17 was a celebration of what God is doing in our midst. It is a reminder to the whole church to celebrate our young people, who are committed to being faithful followers of Christ and long to find the opportunity to do that within the Uniting Church. They are already serving the reign of God with passion.
If you have young people in your congregation who attended Yurora 17, take the time to ask them about their experience and what they hope to carry with them from that experience. Ask young people in your congregation about what their faith means to them, what their passions are and how you can help them continue to live those out.
If you are member of a church council that has young people in the congregation, plan a way to listen to what they hope and long for. Ask how the congregation can be active in helping them in discipleship and faith formation.
Young people are coming to be faithful, engaged participants with the whole church in God’s reign. Let’s support their faith formation and be willing to change how we do things to respond to what God is calling them to be and do. Let’s welcome them and make space for them. They are coming with a passion to follow Christ, and walk together as First and Second Peoples.