To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Act of Disestablishment in 2019 and to support Church of Ireland ministry in the future, CIYD, with support from the Priorities Fund and Fabric & Development Fund, has created a Young Leaders In Ministry Fund to significantly encourage the number of young people undertaking mission and training experiences that would benefit ministry in the Church of Ireland.
This fund would provide individual young people with small, but significant, bursaries to enable them to apply for teams, training and placements that might otherwise have been financially challenging. This is an Ireland wide project that we hope will support over 100 people per year over a potential period of 3 years and beyond.
Bishop Pat Storey commented: ‘As President of CIYD I am delighted with the new opportunities that this Young Leaders in Ministry Fund will provide. Young people will be enabled to seek new adventures and fresh challenges which they could not otherwise do. All applications will be assessed for their potential contribution to church life and the individual’s own faith journey. We are very grateful to the Priorities Fund and the Fabric and Development Fund for their support and vision for this new project.’
Across Ireland there are many opportunities available to older teens and young adults to help develop their skills in leadership, engage in ministry and mission, grow in faith and serve the wider church. However, one of the significant barriers to their participation in these opportunities is the financial undertaking involved. This can be particularly the case where potential participants on these opportunities come from poorer backgrounds. We know from the recent Barna research across young people in the Republic of Ireland that attendance at Christian events and trips is significantly more likely to affect personal faith and church attendance. However, we also are aware, anecdotally, of young people who are discouraged from attendance because of financial barriers. Therefore, the possibility of financial help for prospective applicants has significant potential.
The potential for a bursary of this kind could be evident across a number of outcome areas:
1. Leadership and ministry development:
There are more and more opportunities for young people to develop their leadership and ministry through training & discipleship courses, ministry teams, year-outs and so on. A bursary that awards even a small proportion of the costs can make the difference between a young person applying or not, leading to more young people with leadership skills.
2. Direct support for training:
There are quite a few quality providers of training and other ministry development opportunities (including the C of I) for young people and young adults. Rather than trying to organise more of our own training provision to increase attendance it makes sense to provide financial support to encourage more individuals from the Church of Ireland to undertake these opportunities, both within and beyond the Church of Ireland.
3. Retention of young adults:
Those aged 15-25 are the most likely to leave our church and this is also an age range least evident in church attendance. For young adults considering a role in leadership or mission, having the financial support of their church behind them would be significant in strengthening their relationship with the Church of Ireland. In addition, young people applying for the fund would have to demonstrate their current involvement in ministry in the Church of Ireland.
4. The future involvement of young adults:
Any amount awarded would involve an application process that outlined the current involvement of the young person but also would have to demonstrate how this team, course or training would be of missional benefit to the church. In other words, it will encourage young adults to articulate how they will be involved in the Church of Ireland for the near future. At a time in and around the university years when many of our young adults will be considering leaving the church, this could be significant.
5. The development of church leaders:
Every young adult going through this process will be on a contact database for other opportunities. This will allow us to help young adults progress through other areas of training and mission with the hope that some would be encouraged consider lay ministry and ordination training.
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