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A big “Thank YOU” to the District for funding us to attend 3Generate (the Methodist Church’s Annual Gathering of around 1000 Children and Young People) in Southport in November 2017. Yes, Southport is a very long way North (and travelling on Friday afternoon is the worst time to be doing it! – About 9hrs from Plymouth!!). 7 young people, aged between 12 and 22, from Crediton and Plymouth made the trip. It was VERY COLD and, at times, VERY WET – but that didn’t deter any of us from enjoying ourselves.

There was a great choice of activities for the young people, including T-shirt decorating, an electronic graffiti wall, archery, climbing wall, chill zone, swimming, shows, bands …. And so much more. Lots of opportunities and different ways for the young people to have their say on what is important to them and especially, time to worship and pray together in widely different ways, including a late-night worship band and a later reflective, bean-bag communion led by the presiding President of Conference, Revd Lorraine Mellor to end the Saturday.

Sunday morning was the time to hear from the Youth President candidates and vote for the new Youth President. Jasmine Yeboah from North London was elected and her campaign focused on young people being courageous in how they live out the gospel and how they can create a Church where the vulnerable feel welcomed.

Prior to the 3 Generate trip I [Bev] had just 1 young person regularly attending church on Sunday mornings, this trip enabled me to reach out and connect with another young person, who is now regularly volunteering on Sunday mornings and helping weekly at another Methodist Church with after-school clubs for 5-15 year olds. He had grown up in Methodist Churches but had never attended anything with a large number of young people before. He and members of his local church have noticed a big difference in his confidence and visibility.

It is hard to sum up in just a few words why this is such an important thing for us to support: whether that is with our time (as leaders working with children and young people), our money (without sponsorship not many of these young people could have afforded to go) or our prayers (we are very grateful to the many people who prayed for us, especially for safe journeys). So, we would ask you to ensure your church’s copy of the 3Generate Manifesto is on display and as Ministers, lay preachers and worship leaders, please use the content.

Plans are well underway for this year’s 3 Generate and there is a powerpoint slide-show of the 2017 trip available if anyone would like a copy to show. Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Bev Smerdon (Crownhill Methodist Church) & Lauren Stacey (Crediton Methodist Church)


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Gender Matters Day Report 

Taunton Deane and South Sedgemoor MWiB group organised a Gender Matters Day in April, and were pleased to see 30 people turn up.  We were reminded at the start of the day, by Rev Deborah Kirk, that “Love respects persons, bodies and boundaries”. Our speakers were Yvonne Lee, talking on Girls and Education; Rachel Allison speaking on Female Genital Mutilation; and Jon Curtis on Men’s Mental Health. Despite it not being the lightest day in terms of subject matter, all who attended were totally engaged with the topics under discussion, which meant that the Plenary Session at the end was a lively affair.

Yvonne Lee had been a VSO volunteer in Nepal, providing support and training for girls’ education. She told us of her experiences working with ‘out of school’ and ‘at risk’ girls; we heard of one girl who was a bond servant who managed to attend school, but hanged herself. Illegal bonded labour is still rife in Nepal, but there is a movement gaining force to rescue girls from the system and place them in education. We were challenged to think of how we could change the place of women and girls in our own community. Our first action in Taunton will be to show the community the film ‘Girl Rising’, a little of which Yvonne showed us.

Yvonne also worked on ways to combat gender-based violence, which often results in girls in Nepal stopping attending school. We were asked to consider whether girls in the UK have comparable problems, which affect their aspirations and their futures? And of course, we need to address whether there is anything that we can do locally to change this.

Rachel Allison spoke of FGM as an extreme form of discrimination against women. But should we care that we live in a multi-cultural society and deny cultural practices? Rachel was clear that FGM is a cruel, invasive mutilation of young girls’ bodies that is intended as a way of controlling women. it is not a religious practice, but theology plays a part in it – so we need to have fruitful conversations with its adherents.

In the UK, the police and health services and social services need to be more pro-active, though this is not easy when the government cuts have impacted on anti-FGM work. Rachel gave us postcards to send to our MPs and others in power – we need to raise awareness!

Jon Curtis opened by telling us that three-quarters of suicides in the UK are men, mostly under 35. Men routinely report lower life-satisfaction than women, and are more likely to be dependant on alcohol and drugs. Unfortunately, they are also less likely to access psychological therapies.

Jon considered whether churches engage with men’s problems of depression and mental health. Maybe it is hard to be an inadequate man of faith when all the Old Testament patriarchs are real alpha males! Men’s identity is challenged in our society, and they question themselves. is it easier for a woman, who can often ‘fall back’ on her role as a mother or homemaker?

The Plenary session threw up a number of questions, some interestingly were around the cult of the body for both men and women, and others around robotics and the future for our young people. Others again were centred on the acceptance or not of homosexuals and transsexuals and intersexuals. The world of work was examined, and our place in community – do jobs take up just too much of our time these days? And the last question was the pertinent one of why sanitary products are taxed under VAT as ‘luxury items’?

We also put together a video for lunch-time, around women and media, which competed with the eager talking around the tables about the issues raised. It was good to be asked by the local CAB and a community worker if they could have copies of our video to show to their groups.

The next day, Rachel Allison and the local group were asked to give some input on a BBC West Country radio programme.

We will be following up what we have learned and discussed – watch this space!

Can we also pay tribute to Jon Curtis and his help to the group in putting the Day together – Jon is the Learning and Development Officer for Plymouth and Exeter District.

 


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