A hundred odd years ago, a group of Bible Classers got together and purchased a plot of land on the hillside at Ohope Beach, in the Whakatane district. The hope was to host an annual Easter Camp for the young people of the Bay of Plenty; providing an opportunity for engagement with our living God at a crucial life stage.
Fifty years later a man with a shovel and a paddock in the Waikato established a Christian Camp, which today operates largely as a leadership farm, working predominantly with youth and young adults, developing leadership skills and providing practical opportunities in a camp environment.
The Kaimai Presbytery has a long history of faithful ministry with young people; coupled with bold foresight and brave action.
The landscape has changed, though, and youth ministry looks very different in 2017 from its form and function in 1957 or 1917. Yet, at the core, the churches vision to develop and disciple young people as followers of Jesus Christ has not changed and never will.
As a Presbytery we are in a position to dream boldly and act bravely. At our request, Presbyterian Youth Ministry (PYM) undertook a survey of our region and compiled a short report, which is available here. The initial findings show that there are some very strong youth ministries in the Kaimai Presbytery, and that each of these has a key youth worker who has provided leadership for several years. Across our Presbytery, there are also many fledgling youth ministries which are trying to relaunch ministry to young people in their parishes. These fledgling ministries are often championed by volunteers. Most of these volunteers would admit that they have little expertise in youth ministry and are hungry for any coaching and support that could be made available to them through networking, training and, if possible, the work of a regional enabler.
The Kaimai Presbytery is the only geographical presbytery without anyone employed to support youth ministry in its region. Given the strong working relationship that PYM enjoys with the Regional Youth Enablers employed in each of the other geographical presbyteries, it is strongly recommend that the Kaimai Presbytery appoint of a Regional Youth Enabler of its very own.
This role would offer intentional coaching and support to the fledgling youth ministries among us, create support networks between new and experienced youth workers, and provide the energy and administration to establish some key Presbytery wide events, which could include training for youth leaders and participating in youth ministry camps.
On this ever-changing landscape, let us continue our long history of faithful ministry with young people.
Rev’s Ed Masters and Cate Williams
Co-Conveners of the Youth Task Group
National Director – Presbyterian Youth Ministry