Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Report from the youth leaders across the Moravian Worldwide Unity

On the 19th December 2020 the UYC (Unity Youth Committee) hosted an online Zoom call for youth leaders across the Moravian Worldwide Unity. The aim was for us to get to know each other, share what we do and learn from each other's experience.
The main topic of our conversation was to find out what activities or events people had found to be successful with their youth during the COVID pandemic in each different region. Although originally planned to only last about an hour, the event was so well attended, and the discussion so involved that we actually finished up after about one and half hours - but I am sure it could have carried on so much longer!

I would like to tell you something about what a few of the youth leaders shared about their work in the specific provinces or mission areas and we do truly hope that more will join us for future meetings. I hope what you read about all the youth leader's do in their provinces encourages you and inspires you to reflect on what your youth work looks like currently and how you might be part of the future for your province.

If you would like more information on anything you read about here or would like to become part of our online community and Zoom meetings please get in touch with your provincial youth committee or come find us at the links below:

Now, let's go ahead and see what's happening around the globe ...

Zambia has four regions of youth work; the problem is that they are quite far from each other and it is hard to communicate. Despite that, the youth meet once a year for a Youth and Mission Conference. In their regional conferences, they do sports, music, Bible quizzes and teach on gender, illness and other topics. Their favourite activity is praising God and evangelising through songs. Bible quizzes are also very popular among the youth.

In the current situation, only up to ten people can meet in person. The work in Myanmar focuses mostly on spreading God's word to people and evangelising. In December, the youth with their leader went to a market place and shared God's word and the Christmas message and found a great response to it.

In the three congregations in Nepal, there is a big mix of ethnicities, which makes it very diverse. In one congregation, the youth have known each other well since their childhood, while in the congregation in Kathmandu, the youth live far away from each other and the church, so it is more complicated to create a fellowship. That is why during the COVID-19 lockdown, the youth leaders decided to connect these three congregations for virtual fellowships. This helped the youth to get to know each other and open up different discussions and debates on different Bible topics. The Nepali like to sing a lot, so they organised online carolling. The two things that they felt were very successful were Social Issue Nights where they could talk about current issues (such as the overuse of social media) and their impact, and Stress Management Courses where they taught on how to manage stress at this challenging time. In this course, they sat down with each youth and talked to them individually so that they could help them to move forward.

The church in Uganda is a young church and there are not yet many congregations. However, there is a youth council set up that is planning for a youth conference. They are working on making sure that the youth are represented in each congregation. At the conference, they want to have youth from all the congregations and appoint youth leaders for each congregation. Before the lockdown, the youth would meet every Wednesday, but when the lockdown started, they had to find other ways to connect using technology. Since not everyone has a smartphone, they used texting as a way to keep in touch. Some of the members became more active during this time and that was what encouraged them to set up the youth council and to hold a youth conference. One of the things that the youth like to do is to make crafts to support the youth work, such as baskets, shoes and sandals.

The European Continental Province (Germany)
The youth have also been meeting mostly online and some of the youth gatherings have been turned into an online version. One of the things the youth leader did was a Moravian Radio that has its own channel on YouTube and you can find many different programs there, such as a cooking show, interviews with interesting or influential people and others. For Easter, the ECP youth leaders created scribble books that contained a variety of activities connected to Easter, but they were not only for sitting down, they also included some physical activities. Recently, they have created an Advent calendar that was not only aimed at the youth, but also at other members of the church.

Czech Republic
The youth in the Czech Republic had to cancel their two provincial events, but some of the congregations could organise their summer camps when the restrictions loosened up. The youth were encouraged to keep in touch and try using more personal ways of communication, such as calling each other, writing emails or sending postcards/letters instead of using social media. Some of the groups get together for practical work to help out in the community or with someone in the congregation.

Barbados, EWI
Each of the islands in the Eastern West Indies work autonomously and has different activities. However, they have a Provincial Youth Camp where the youth from the islands come together and work together.

The youth in Guyana have had to be meeting online in the past months as well. They have been organising virtual meetings where one person presents on a character of the Bible and then they have a discussion about it. They focus on a good level of engagement in the meetings. They also organise discussions on mental health and career guidance. For 2021, they hope to organise a youth convo. They like Bible quizzes, sports, competitions and camps.

South Africa
South African youth reacted strongly to the pandemic. Before, they had in-person gatherings on the congregational and national level. Singing has been very important for them since it can connect all cultures and languages. When all the meetings started being cancelled, the Moravian Youth Union of South Africa (MYUSA) reacted with many different online activities and streams aimed at the youth, but also encompassed foreign youth. It is complicated to include everyone in the online work and it is a challenge to make the virtual meetings work, but they are doing a great job.

There are four regions of Jamaica and each of them has their youth coordinator that work together on the provincial youth board. This January, they are hosting an online event called Youth Award where they award youngsters for their work in the Moravian Church and among the youth. The awards are given to people who are nominated by someone else and then selected by a committee that evaluates the nominations and selects the award recipients. This event is something that happens regularly, but this year it will be hosted online for the first time.

Jirina Cancikova
I look forward to hopefully meeting you at some point in the future and I pray for all the youth work your church and your province undertakes currently.

Sr Jiřina Čančíková
Czech Province of the Moravian Church
Unity Youth Committee Desk Coordinator

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