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Young people from all 12 dioceses of the Church of Ireland gathered for the second CIYD Church of Ireland Youth Forum in the City North Hotel near Dublin on Saturday (January 19). The forum was facilitated by Nic and Sally Sheppard of Church Army.

The young delegates engaged in enthusiastic debates on issues affecting young people and looked at ways of encouraging and supporting youth participation in the Church, facilitating change and taking action. They also explored how they serve and are part of what God is already doing in the world and how they could recognise God at work.

CIYD’s new prayer booklet for the Church of Ireland Day of Prayer for Young People and Youth Ministry, which takes place on March 3, was launched during the day. Praying for Young People and Youth Ministrycontains a selection of prayer ideas that can be used during a service or events organised to mark the CIYD Day of Prayer. The booklet will be made available to every parish and to youth workers.

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The forum was the first event of the 2019 commemorations marking the 150th anniversary of Disestablishment of the Church of Ireland. The Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Michael Jackson, said that Disestablishment presented an opportunity for the Church of Ireland to become a Church in its own right rather than a political church. Until 1869, the Church of Ireland was a church for everyone whether they belonged to it or not.

He said that the strapline of the time – ‘Free to shape our future’ – was still relevant in the Church of Ireland today. He urged the young people to remember that they were “free to shape your own future” and encouraged them to use their voices in their own communities.

“This became the slogan of Disestablishment: … free to shape your own future … Considering the political storm out of which it came, it is exciting and hopeful; it gives an independent voice for change and development to a church as a church, as an oasis of hope and fresh belonging for all who choose to belong as opposed to all who are assumed to belong,” the Archbishop said.

“It can continue to be taken by every generation of young people in the Church of Ireland as a strong encouragement to engage with the capacities, abilities, enthusiasms – your willingness to be included, your hope of not being patronized by tokenism, the gifts that you already have. You want to bring those capacities into the church of today for the church of today and tomorrow. This slogan encourages you to engage without delay. It encourages you to believe in God and to believe in yourselves. It encourages you to take the initiative in opening up an omni–generational conversation about structure and policy as well as values and commitments. It remains an open–hearted encouragement to the Church of Ireland to take this freedom and to shape tomorrow in every generation,” he added.

During the session, members of Connor Diocese Youth Forum shared their experience of putting together a youth resource for their diocese. Journey is written by and for young people and is proving very popular.

Report and photos by Lynn Glanville, Diocesan Communications Officer for Dublin and Glendalough.