Arising out of a need in the congregation, the Maylands Mt Lawley Uniting Church Youth Group began in February 2016. After a year of being in operation, it is a much loved activity of the church.
Rev Kim Francis, Minister at Maylands Mt Lawley Uniting Church, co-ordinates the Youth Group alongside her son, Joel Francis, and Liz Lee, a member of the congregation, with the help of other parent volunteers. The group has about ten members, with around six attending each week. Some are members of the congregation, who also bring along friends.
Each Sunday, from 12noon–2.00pm, young people in years 6–12 share food, activities and discussion. Sometimes the group meet at the church, other times they head out and about. Outings have included activities like badminton, mini golf, kayaking, rock climbing and sailing.
Once a term they hold a cooking competition, and every week they enjoy a simple, but varied lunch together. Occasionally, they also meet with other youth groups from The Billabong, Mt Pleasant and Nedlands Uniting Churches, and they have worked through the Alpha Youth Film Series, a course designed to create conversations for young people exploring life, faith and meaning.
Some members of the Youth Group have also become more active within the congregation, taking on responsibilities during Sunday worship and helping out at the congregation’s regular fundraising event, the Maylands Mt Lawley Uniting Church Jumble Sale.
The presence of the Youth Group has helped create intergenerational relationships in their church.
“It’s added to the church,” Kim said. “It was the kids themselves who wanted to come down to the Jumble Sale and do henna tattoos. They did a fantastic play at Christmas and they’re actually quite creative kids. I think it’s added a lot to the church.
“I think the congregation has become more intergenerational in the format of the service,” Liz Lee, volunteer, said.
Kim said that it is important that members of the Youth Group are welcome as part of the church, and hopes that they feel they belong. But its purpose is not just to attract young people to the church, but to engage with them holistically.
“Youth Group has got a physical games aspect and spiritual, social, friendship and intellectual component – it’s sort of holistic,” Kim said. “We do pray and support the kids and celebrate their milestones and their different gifts.
“We hope that they enjoy themselves and be part of the group, but we hope that they’ll grow in the Christian faith as well.”
Ainsley Scott-Lee is a regular attendee at the Maylands Mt Lawley Youth Group. She said the youth group is a fun, welcoming place.
“The Maylands Mt Lawley Youth Group is a great place to meet new people,” she said. “I enjoy going to youth group because there is a mixed community where you fit in and you can enjoy yourself.
“We also learn about God through the games we play, as well as a discussion at the end of each youth gathering. Although our youth group may be small, we still have an amazing time and we welcome you to join us.”