Greg Stier on Halloween

Greg Stier writes on Halloween = Satan’s Birthday Party?:

Last year my boy asked me, “Daddy, is Halloween Satan’s birthday party?” I laughed out loud and said, “No. Satan doesn’t have a birthday party because Satan was never born. He was created by God”…A little crash course in angelology for my sweet little boy.

There’s all sorts of opinions floating out there about whether or not Christians should celebrate Halloween. Some side with the Jehovah’s Witnesses when it comes to this holiday (hell-i-day?) and choose not to celebrate in anyway whatsover. Others gather at local church Harvest Festivals for games, candy and holy fun. Still others dress their kids up and march them door to door to celebrate with the pagan tots.

What’s the trick to surviving this treat filled holiday with your faith in tact? Here’s a few suggestions:

1. Don’t be a legalist …

2. Use it as an opportunity to engage others with the gospel …

3. Give lots of candy to the neighborhood kids.

If you are a believer in Jesus then you should be overly generous when your doorbell rings. Give fistfuls of candy, not a breathmint taped to a gospel of John.

All the neighbors should know you as the candyman (or woman) during Halloween, as opposed to the family who turns off the porch light, hunkers down to do Bible trivia with their kids while listening to Bill Gaither music cranked up loud to drown out the doorbell as it rings again and again and again.

The only thing worse than being stingy with candy at halloween is leaving a gospel tract at a restaurant with no tip in it. If you represent Jesus then you should represent generosity as well. Sure, leave the tract but put a 20% tip in there as well…or more.

So this Halloween, give them tots lots of treats, cavaties and love. Don’t be overcome with evil but overcome evil with good…and candy bars.

What do you think?

Stranger hailed ‘hero’ after helping Farnborough autistic child on train

The mother of a five-year-old boy with autism has hailed a young man a “hero” after he stepped in to help calm her son during a difficult train journey.

Gayna Pealling hailed Daniel Ball, 21, from Farringdon, “my hero” after he distracted her son Jack when he became distressed on a train to Farnborough.

She posted images on Facebook of Mr Ball playing with Jack, which have been shared hundreds of times.

The pair have since began campaigning to raise awareness of autism and ADHD.

Ms Pealling, a single mother from Farnborough, Hampshire, was travelling home from Portsmouth when her son Jack began having a “meltdown”.  She said:

“I can’t thank Dan enough for what he did that day.  Strangers just think my child is misbehaving but it is just his condition. I got a lot of bad looks from a lot of people on the train – which didn’t help the situation.”

Dan helped distract Jack, who was shouting and swearing, by asking him to come and draw with his sister Amy, Ms Pealling added.

The pair have since set up a campaign to help raise awareness of the condition with the help of Mr Ball’s mother Barbara, who has worked in the special needs sector since 1976.

Mr Ball also has a fundraising page for the National Autistic Society which has already exceeded its £1,000 target.  He said:

“I thought that, as people have taken the time to like and share the post with the photos of me in, they might be able to share a few pounds and – hopefully – we can make a bit of a difference”

The team has created badges which say “The Rescuer” and “Come to my rescue” which they are urging people to wear on public transport to help bring attention to parents with autistic children who may need help.

Mrs Ball, said:

“Judging by the response to Gayna’s Facebook post, most parents would be grateful for a smile, a nod or a word of support or even an offer to help in an extreme situation such as Gayna and Dan found themselves in.”

CrossTeach banned from Church primary school for being ‘extremist’

A primary school in Kent has cuts its ties with a Christian group after parents complained of religious extremism and claimed children had been distressed by comments about gay marriage and a demonstration of “God’s power” in assemblies.

Dan Turvey, the headteacher of St John’s Church of England primary school in Tunbridge Wells, told parents in a letter that he was ending invitations to the charity CrossTeach to lead school assemblies and take lessons, after what he called a campaign by parents.

One parent said children were being told ‘they would not go to a good place when they died’ if they did not believe in God, according to the Telegraph, and another said her son had been told ‘men can’t marry men’, according to the Guardian.

The parents group said in a statement:

‘We recognise and respect the school’s Christian values but think there is a brand of Christianity that is abusing that respect. The basis of [our] complaint relates purely to concerns over the welfare and safeguarding of children who we believe are being exposed to potentially damaging ideology.’

In a letter to parents on Monday Turvey said he was ‘deeply saddened’ to be severing ties but acknowledged children had been ‘upset and disturbed emotionally’.  He wrote:

‘After careful consideration I have decided that we will end our regular commitment to CrossTeach and that they will no longer lead assemblies or take lessons.’

But he added: I do not believe CrossTeach has done anything wrong.’

He said the group would continue to run a voluntary after school club. ‘They do not deserve the tarnishing of their good name and allegations of extremism that have taken place over the last few months,’ he told parents.

One parent who asked not to be named said:

‘I didn’t pull my mine out because overall I think it would do more harm than good to segregate them.

‘But I do know some of the children have been upset by what they have heard. No one minds Nativity plays and Bible stories but considering most of the parents at the school aren’t practising Christians I think the feeling is that it’s all too much.

‘In Tunbridge Wells the vast majority of primary schools are affiliated with the church so it’s not like you have a choice whether you expose your children to this.

‘Personally I want my children to learn about all religions. If you want them to be raised as Christians there are plenty of Sunday schools.’

But Turvey hit back at the parents’ complaints and said: ‘It is my view that the use of social media can be destructive and counterproductive. In this case I believe that the damage caused by the use of this media will take a very long time to repair.’

He added ‘relationships have been soured and trust eroded’, telling parents ‘the past few months have been stressful, tiring and a distraction from our focus’.

Wayne Harris, the national director at CrossTeach, said the group was a charity and worked with schools under constant supervision, observing school policies and national guidleines, where applicable. He added:

“Whilst we note the strong comments made by Mr Daniel Turvey, Headteacher, in support of our workers and activities, Crossteach is very disappointed that, after 16 years of supporting the school, our work will no longer be available to young people at St Johns CE Primary School, Tunbridge Wells.

“Wherever possible we work in partnership with local churches and we reflect their teaching, always aiming to be sensitive to the local context, and recognising that churches vary. We teach mainstream Christianity.

“In 16 years of Christian schools work no teacher has ever raised a concern that something has been said that could be interpreted as in any way ‘hateful’ or ‘extremist’.”

Choose your Ultimate Saints XI

From The Dell to St Mary’s, there have been many greats to have worn the red and white stripes – but who would be in your Ultimate Saints XI?

That’s the question Southampton fans are being asked, ahead of a major exhibition about the club that will open at SeaCity Museum next year.

An independent panel of supporters and club historians have created a short-list of Saints legends for fans to choose from, with the vote now open.

To qualify, players need to have represented the club after 1945 and have made 150 or more appearances, unless they are deemed to have made a particularly special contribution or significant impact during their time with Saints. Current players are not included in the vote.

The supporters’ all-time XI and manager will be revealed as part of the special exhibition at SeaCity Museum, which is due to open on 29th March 2018.

To submit your Fans’ Ultimate XI, simply select your choices here.

Everyone who enters will be in with a chance of winning one of five pairs of tickets to the VIP exhibition launch on 28th March 2018.

Please note that voting closes at 8pm on Sunday 5th November.

Want to join the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Youth Commission?

The Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Michael Lane, is seeking volunteers aged between 14 and 25 years old to help give young people a voice on the crime and policing issues that matter to them most.

The purpose of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Youth Commission is to make young people part of the solution to tackling crime and improving policing, rather than being seen as part of the problem. It is made up of up to 50 young people aged between 14 and 25.

The Youth Commission currently has four priorities:
• Mental Health
• Hate Crime
• Cyber Safety
• Unhealthy Relationships

Youth Commission members identify the issues that young people are concerned about most and gather opinions on what the specific concerns are and ideas on how to tackle them. They also work to raise awareness and educate young people via campaigns, such as this year’s #GoFISH cyber safety campaign, run workshops, speak at events and take part in a range of other activities.

Members of the Youth Commission gain a variety of skills, meet and work with a range of people, learn about different issues that are relevant to them and their peers and get to be part of some great youth orientated events – this year members have attended festivals, youth conferences and summer activity schemes.

If you are interested is applying (or know someone that maybe interested) then please complete the online application form by 03 November 2017 which can be found here . This is the first part of the two stage application process.

Applicants that reach the second stage will be invited to an assessment evening week commencing 20th November. Applicants with experience of the police and criminal justice systems, as an offender, victim or any other interaction are welcome to apply.

Award in Community Development

Are you involved in volunteer or paid community development work?  This is a chance to gain skills and share ideas and experiences with other people and earn a certificate.

The course is suitable both for people who are volunteers or who are just starting out in a community development role, leading to a CPD certificate at Level 2 or even Level 3. The Level 3 is suitable to people with existing experience as a community development worker.

Six Friday sessions – 9.45 – 2.45pm:

  • 12, 19 January
  • 2, 9 and 23 February
  • 2 March

at the Swaythling Neighbourhood Centre, off Broadlands Road, Southampton, SO17 3AT

Fees depend on your income. For more information or to book please call 023 8067 1111  or email  ichambers@twics.org.uk

Children’s & youth work links

Links from the world of children’s and youth ministry:

‘Harry Potter’ author J.K. Rowling opens up about books’ Christian imagery: ‘They almost epitomise the whole series,’ she says of the Scripture Harry reads in Godric’s Hollow.

Youth Court Protocol – what’s new?: The MA Youth Court Protocol was originally developed in 2003 as additional guidance for magistrates on the practices and processes of the youth justice system, but it has evolved to be a useful resource for all those who come into contact with the youth court.

Applications for grants to support British Science Week 2018 are now open: There are three grant schemes available to support British Science Week (9-18 March 2018) activities: one for schools, one for community groups (including youth clubs), and one for BSA branches.

Poor white boys are the new oppressed: Trevor Phillips, ex-head of the Commission for Racial Equality, writes a fascinating article on how recent statistics shows “every chance that while the Sikh teenager will one day turn into a highly skilled doctor, the grime-music obsessed African sixth-former will become a pin-striped lawyer, and that mathematics-nut Chinese GCSE student will end up a tech entrepreneur, the best that your average working-class white boy can hope for is a part-time job in an Amazon warehouse.”

These 4 reasons are why youth workers are leaving the church: James Ballantyne blogs on why he believes youth workers are leaving the church – this is essential reading for church leaders.

 

 

Oxford college banned Christian group from freshers’ fair

As the university academic year kicks off, once again, we see a Christian Union having their activities on campus restricted.  Balliol Christian Union (CU) was banned from attending the Freshers’ Fair by the JCR over concerns at the “potential for harm to freshers” and because they wanted the freshers’ fair to be a “secular space”, according to Oxford’s student newspaper Cherwell.

Eventually the CU was told that a single multi-faith stall would be allowed to display leaflets, though no representatives would be allowed to staff it, according to leaked emails. Balliol CU boycotted this option.

The decision has caused anger at Balliol, where a motion was reportedly passed unanimously accusing the JCR committee of “barring the participation of specific faith-based organisations” and describing the step as “a violation of free speech [and] a violation of religious freedom”. The motion prohibited the barring of official religious societies from future freshers’ fairs.

In an email exchange, JCR vice-president Freddy Potts, on behalf of the JCR committee, reportedly told a CU representative:

“We recognise the wonderful advantages in having CU representatives at the freshers’ fair, but are concerned that there is potential for harm to freshers who are already struggling to feel welcome in Oxford.”

“Christianity’s influence on many marginalised communities has been damaging in its methods of conversion and rules of practice, and is still used in many places as an excuse for homophobia and certain forms of neo-colonialism.”

In a Facebook post, JCR president Hubert Au said the decision to have a multi-faith stall rather than a specific CU stall, was reached “in light of both concerns raised by members [of the Welfare sub committee] and by an undergraduate survey conducted last term, which indicated a lack of familiarity as to where non-Christian societies, events and services were located”, the paper reported.  “We didn’t want to monopolise the presence of any individual faith/belief society at the Balliol freshers’ fair.”

The Rev Nigel Genders, the Church of England’s chief education officer, said:

“Freedom of religion and belief is a fundamental principle that underpins our country and its great institutions and universities.

“Christian Unions represent some of the largest student led organisations in many universities across the country and to exclude them in this way is to misunderstand the nature of debate and dialogue and at odds with the kind of society we are all seeking to promote.”

The Rev Richard Cunningham (Director of UCCF) said:

“We are however concerned that the current desire to provide safe spaces on campus does not infringe on the core liberties of freedom of speech and freedom of association which are surely foundational to the university experience and indeed to basic human flourishing.”

Get Inspired Southampton

A free fun interactive event for young people aged 10 – 16 years, Get Inspired showcases the wide range of employment opportunities available in the region. Running on Saturday 14th October, 10.00am until 3.00pm at the O2 Guildhall for FREE.
With many high profile businesses and employers in the city exhibiting with hands-on interactive activities, this event is a great way of helping young people to learn about the various careers and training options that are right on their doorstep, planting a seed to raise their career aspirations from an early age and inspiring them to aim high.
 

Children’s & youth work links

Links from the world of children’s and youth ministry:

How do we help young people to pray?: Joel Goodlet has written a great blog on the need to stop sending out the invitation to ‘try prayer’ and find a way instead to encourage our young people to devote themselves to prayer.

Hugh Hefner Wrecked My Life. . . Sort Of. . .: Walt Mueller blogs on the cultural impact that Hugh Hefner had.

If you have not read the Nashville Statement, please don’t: Steve Holmes nails it, on how the Nashville Statement is framed to try to make us take sides, and the loudest responses have been similarly framed.

The Annual Bullying Survey 2017: the fifth and largest edition of our yearly benchmark of bullying in the United Kingdom. Ditch the Label, the anti-bullying charity, surveyed over 10,000 young people aged 12-20 in partnership with schools and colleges from across the country.

Regular Energy Drink Use by Young Adults May Hike Risk of Substance Abuse: A new study by University of Maryland School of Public Health researchers suggests young adults who regularly consume highly caffeinated energy drinks may be at risk for future substance use.

Get £10,000 to help the environment

Environmental issues are already presenting challenges to how we live, but what are we doing about it? Digital technology can help create solutions and lead us to a greener, better world. As a generation, we have the innovation, skills and passion to drive positive change, so we want you to get thinking about the environmental problems we all face, and how digital tech can help solve them.

If you have got an idea to help the environment, such as improving energy efficiency, reducing waste or increasing recycling, and you are aged between 17 and 24, then you could apply for up to £10,000 from The Environment Now to bring your idea to life!

SO WHAT EXACTLY IS THE ENVIRONMENT NOW?

 

The Environment Now  funds young people’s ideas to tackle energy efficiency, waste reduction and recycling, using the power of tech. Successful applicants get £10,000 to develop their idea over 10 months, as well as mentorship, work experience and insight days with industry professionals. It’s funded by O2 and the National Lottery’s Big Lottery Fund through the Our Bright Future programme, and managed by the National Youth Agency.

If you feel inspired to tackle environmental problems with digital tech, the next deadline for project applications is looming – 14 November . You can find out more and apply for an Environment Now grant of £10,000 here.

WHAT KIND OF PROJECTS CAN GET FUNDING?

If you have an idea of how digital technology could help the environment, The Environment Now want to hear from you!

They’ve already funded projects like…

LettusGrow: a company on a mission to reduce food waste around the world through soil-free gardening.

Filamentive: a 3D printing filament business that needs money for experimentation, research and development into new recycled and recyclable materials.

Virtually There:  an app that will contain different virtual reality experiences highlighting the impact of global warming, waste and deforestation.

For more information on other projects The Environment Now have already funded, take a look here.

HOW CAN I APPLY?

Applications for funding are open until 14th November. Go to The Environment Now website to read the full criteria and apply for funding!

If you have any questions about funding or Thinkspiration events, you can contact the team at The Environment Now here.