National Youth Assembly 2013 – Church Of Scotland

As I am writing this the 2013 edition of the National Youth Assembly of the Church of Scotland is getting under way. This is a program of the Church of Scotland Youth ministry (COSY).

Regular readers know that I think highly of this event because of the way that it has engaged the young people of the church in substantive discussions about topics important to them, to the Kirk and to Scotland.

This year is a bit different and I am looking forward to how it works out. Instead of three or four topics related to church and society, this year’s theme is “Who do you say I am?” The specific topics to be discussed include: What is it do be me? What is it to be in The Church of Scotland? What is it to be Scottish?

I don’t know if this will be developed into deliverances for the next CofS General Assembly in the Spring, but I look forward to following the process. The COSY NYA page does say that the format will be a bit different: “For NYA 2013 our focus will be shifting from debates to other forms of learning and decision making.”

The Assembly begins at 5 PM local time on Friday 16 August at the West Park Conference Centre in Dundee. It will conclude about 5 PM on Monday 19 August.

There is a web page in the COSY area on the NYA Moderator RE Lynsey Martin and Clerk Esther Nisbet. (I wrote bit on both of them earlier in the spring) There is also a Kirk news article about the Assembly that was released today.

One fact that reinforces that this will be a different sort of NYA is the minimum amount of advanced information posted on the internet. In the past the COSY Blog is the best source of information but it has not been updated since the final deliverances were posted after the last NYA.

Often there is live streaming of the NYA but I have not seen a link for this year’s Assembly yet. I will update here if I find it but with the format changes it may have been eliminated if the number of good streaming opportunities is minimal.

So we shall keep an eye on Twitter for the action, developments, commentary and links. It appears that both #nya13 and #nya2013 are in use for this meeting — the former follows the pattern from previous years while the latter is being used by official types. The official Twitter account is @cosy_nya and the main church feed is @churchscotland. In addition, the Moderator of the General Assembly, the Rt. Rev. Lorna Hood (@moderatorchurch), will be leading worship on Monday and she has been retweeting some NYA related info. I will update with others as the meeting develops.

Finally, one interesting feature of this meeting is a bit of a discussion that has developed around it.  Yesterday, Michael Mair, a candidate for the ministry who anticipates being ordained shortly and becoming the youngest minister in the Church of Scotland, wrote a column in the Herald Scotland about the lack of young people in the Kirk and about how the NYA should help the church take young people seriously. It carried the implication that taking young people seriously would help bring more of them back to the Church of Scotland. He says of the Assembly:

Therefore, I am pleading with the Church. Take these young people and
their ideas seriously. The National Youth Assembly is not important
merely because it is a meeting place for young Christians. In addition
it is a melting pot from which wonderful insightful and brilliant ideas
are born. They deserve to be heard.

His column got a response from Free Church of Scotland minister David Robertson in a piece published on the Free Church website. While not directly commenting on the NYA, Rev. Robertson challenged soon-to-be-Rev. Mair’s basic premise about the lack of youth and instead argued that the problem is systemic to the Kirk and derives from the fact “…that it is committing a not so slow suicide by drinking the Kool-Aid of liberal theology and poisoning itself to death.”

Well, I have found NYA to be an important and relevant event in the life of the Kirk even if there are larger issues to be dealt with. So, my best wishes to the young people participating in the NYA this weekend and I am looking forward to hearing how this year’s event goes and what comes out of it.

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