Resolution Number: C003

Subject: Youth Leadership Development – A response to the Framework document

Moved By: Meghan Nicholls from the Diocese of Huron

Seconded By: Hilary Punnett from the Diocese of British Columbia

Note: The mover and the seconder must be members of the General Synod and be present in the House when the resolution is before the synod for debate.

BE IT RESOLVED:

That this General Synod, subject to adoption of the Framework (Resolution A130), request that the Council of General Synod explore a partnership with the national Anglican youth leadership program “Ask & Imagine” in response to the Framework’s proposal to develop national youth (and young adult) leadership development conferences.

EXPLANATORY NOTES/BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

Developing youth and young adult leadership is one of the stated goals of the Framework document. In the interest of fiscal responsibility and avoiding duplication of effort this resolution proposes that a partnership be developed with an existing program that is strongly supported and thus far receiving enthusiastic reviews from the participating dioceses coast to coast. The program is relatively new, but already seeing results and making an impact throughout the Anglican Church in Canada. A partnership at this time would be mutually beneficial for both Ask & Imagine and the national Framework proposals.

Ask & Imagine began in 1999 as the initiative of Huron University College/Faculty of Theology. It is a two-week summer program/conference for 16-20 year old Anglican youth which engages the participants in leadership development, academic theology and ministry skills formation. It is not a youth camp, but a university program for high school and college age students that challenges and draws them into theological reflection, scriptural study, engagement with world issues from a faith perspective, vocational discernment and integration of their faith with their life choices. There is a strong component of leadership ‘beyond the basics’ and the program encourages and enables the participants to take what they have learned back to their home community, parish, deanery or diocese.

Many alumni have gone on to a variety of ministries and offered their leadership in many parts of the Anglican Church of Canada and elsewhere. These include parish youth ministry, university campus ministry, outreach and social justice ministries, senior-level camp staff, planning a Province-wide Residential Schools Awareness worship event in Ontario (2001), Church Army training and Diocesan youth programs to name a few. Some have been inspired to pursue further coursework at university in theological or religious studies alongside their major field of study. Many alumni speak of Ask & Imagine as the turning and grounding point for them in their faith journey. A number have recognized an emerging call to ordained or lay ministry in the Anglican church.

Travel and tuition costs for the program are currently paid for by a grant, no matter where participants come from in Canada. Participants – with contribution from their diocese and parish – pay a total of $800.00 for the two-week program.

The document Serving God’s World, Strengthening the Church identifies youth ministry and specifically, youth and young adult leadership development as one of its primary propositions, as outlined in the following excerpt (bold emphasis added here):

“This Framework proposes:

…that additional initiatives to serve local mission, in areas such as congregational development, stewardship education, youth ministry, and leadership development, become part of the mission of the General Synod

that, between 2004-2010, there be series of national (or regional) leadership development conferences for

youth and young adults,
leaders in ministries of stewardship education,
Canadian church leaders with an interest in international partnerships,
leaders in evangelism
leaders in congregational development.

that each General Synod committee be asked to develop a vision of key goals and areas of work arising from this plan

that the structure of General Synod committees be revised as needed for this period so as to reflect these priorities, and that each committee participate in a process for reviewing and monitoring the implementation of this Framework

We recognize that this Framework is ambitious and far-reaching, including as it does work now being done as well as new work. We acknowledge that the resources required for full implementation are not yet in place. We therefore propose:

that this Framework be phased in over its six-year lifespan as resources become available through increased efforts at stewardship and fund raising and

that interim shifts in allocation of existing resources may be made, mindful of long-term commitments undertaken by General Synod

that the process of planning and refinement continue through the next six years, guided by the Council of General Synod and its Planning and Agenda Team, allowing for flexibility in emphases as conditions dictate ….”

Background to the Ask & Imagine Program :

In 1998, all theological colleges and seminaries in North America in the ATS (Association of Theological Schools) were invited by Lilly Endowment Inc. to submit proposals for Theological Programs for High School Youth. Huron University College developed a proposal to initiate a now national program for youth that could help address the following questions:

  1. Where are the leaders of tomorrow coming from?
  2. How are we fostering a sense of vocation in young people?
  3. How do we engage youth with leadership, theology and ministry (in all its forms)?
  4. How are we nurturing the faith and developing skills of young leaders?

The proposal was accepted and in 1998 Huron was one of two Canadian schools to receive initial funding of $232,000.00 for a four-year period to develop and operate the program. To date, Huron is the only Anglican/Episcopal school in North America offering such a program. Other Anglican seminaries have courses or programs for adults interested in youth ministry, but none which are for youth and focus on leadership/ministry skills development in young people themselves.

The Faculty of Theology at Huron University College has developed an excellent program which is filling a void in the Anglican church that has been clearly identified in the Framework document. Ask & Imagine is affirming and developing young vocations, developing leaders for the church and community and encouraging young people to engage their faith in their life and career choices. Two follow-on grants have been received (in 2001 and 2004) for the expressed purpose of further program development, promotion and to engage partners and constituents in shared ownership and sustainability.

Ask & Imagine is now established as a nation-wide program with an impressive record and a great diversity of alumni engaged in various ministries. The program has received excellent reviews from alumni, clergy and parents from Eastern Newfoundland to British Columbia and many points in between. A significant development and fundraising initiative has just begun.

At this point in time in our history, it would be of mutual benefit to broaden the base of support and awareness of this program. In essence, the groundwork is done, an excellent product has been created, the structure, support and staff are in place and – like marketing an excellent product – here is a program with a five year proven track record which meets one of the primary initiatives within the Framework. This resolution proposes that we not reinvent the wheel, but connect with an existing program.

The intention of this resolution is to begin developing a partnership with the national church, so that the ACC as a whole may share ‘ownership’ of the program. This ownership may take the form of:

the creation of a national advisory committee
active promotion of the program

A quick fact list about the Ask & Imagine program:

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Further information is available on www.askandimagine.org

 

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