Children’s & youth work links

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

Homophobic, biphobic and transphobic (HBT) bullying tackled in new guidance for Church schools

Guidance for the Church of England’s 4,700 schools published today aims to prevent pupils from having their self-worth diminished or their ability to achieve impeded by being bullied because of their perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity.

The report makes 12 recommendations for schools including ensuring schools’ Christian ethos statements offer “an inclusive vision for education” where “every child should be revered and respected as members of a community where all are known and loved by God. ”

Clear anti-bullying policies should include HBT behaviours and language, policies on how to report incidences should be accessible, staff trained on recognising bullying, curriculum and collective worship should support the vision and the wider church ensure that schools are responding well to the guidance.

In the foreword of the report, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said:

“All bullying, including homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying causes profound damage, leading to higher levels of mental health disorders, self-harm, depression and suicide.

“Central to Christian theology is the truth that every single one of us is made in the image of God. Every one of us is loved unconditionally by God.

“This guidance helps schools to offer the Christian message of love, joy and celebration of our humanity without exception or exclusion.”

The advice is an update on Valuing All God’s Children, guidance published in 2014 which tackled homophobic behaviour. This update covers a wider range of negative behaviours, incorporates the relevant legal and inspection frameworks and reflects the Church’s Vision for Education, whose four elements of wisdom, hope, community and dignity form the theological basis of the guidance.

 

Chief Education Officer for the Church of England, Nigel Genders, said:

“Providing an education to our 1 million children that will enable them to live life in all its fullness is a big responsibility.

“This practical and thoughtful advice is packed with templates and a comprehensive selection of resources for schools, teachers, families and young people. I hope that it will make a difference to our school communities and individual pupils too.”

The report acknowledges that it is likely that not all will agree on issues to do with human sexuality, marriage or gender identity. It goes on to say that:

“However, there needs to be a faithful and loving commitment to remain in relationship with the other and honour the dignity of their humanity without ‘back turning’, dismissing the other person, or claiming superiority.” 

The full report can be found here.

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.”

Archbishop: Church of England schools can help shape ‘hopeful’ society

Archbishop Justin Welby visits St Bartholomew’s CofE primary school, London, 26 January 2016.
Archbishop Justin Welby visits St Bartholomew’s CofE primary school, London, 26 January 2016.

Read the Archbishop of Canterbury’s on the vision for CofE schools in this week’s TES:

Education is at the heart of the work the Church of England does for the common good.  Through its 4,500 primary and 200 secondary schools, it educates around one million children a day. It is estimated that around 15 million people alive today attended a Church of England school.

The fundamental purpose of Church of England education is to nurture people to live life in all its fullness, inspired by Jesus’s message in the Gospel of John: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it abundantly.” Non-church schools also have inspiring visions, albeit articulated in different language; to inspire and educate the whole person, building them up to flourish in the world.

Click here for the rest of the article.

A Hopeful Future – Renewal & Reform

The second of four films themed on the vision and narrative of Renewal & Reform. The Bishop of Burnley is joined by Youth Council representative Alexandra Podd, and Archbishops’s Council member Rebecca Salter, in looking to a hopeful future.

Watch the second video in the series here:

Youth Evangelism Officer appointed

jimmy_dale__002_Jimmy Dale has been appointed as the Church of England’s first national Youth Evangelism Officer.

In response to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s focus on evangelism. Jimmy will take up the role in October. He will hold a national remit to develop and disseminate models of evangelism among 11 – 18 year olds.

This new role aims to promote the mission of the church to and by 11-18 year olds. In collaboration with Dioceses, Jimmy will develop, pilot and evaluate effective models of youth evangelism that enable young people to reach their peers with the Gospel. Working alongside bishops, clergy, youth advisers and youth workers, he will then ensure that parish leaders have ready access to those models.

Speaking after his appointment, Mr Dale said:

“I’m so excited to be starting in this new role and the potential that it brings. It’s brilliant to see young people as they evangelise to their friends and support them in that, and helping churches reach young people with the good news of Jesus. I am really looking forward to working alongside people across the country as we seek to support and promote where youth evangelism is working well, as well as dreaming together of new ways to reach young people with the gospel.”

Mr Dale will work with both the Mission and Public Affairs Division (MPA) and the National Education Office of the Archbishops’ Council, as part of a small team focussed on youth evangelism.

Jimmy Dale comes to the post having worked as Centre Director and founder of Newham Youth for Christ and with previous experience in youth work. He holds a BA (Hons) in Youth Work and Applied Theology from the University of Gloucestershire.

Welcoming the appointment, the Director of MPA, the Revd Dr Malcolm Brown, said:

“I am very pleased that we have appointed Jimmy Dale to this important new post. It represents a creative response to the priority of youth evangelism which combines the resources of the Education Office and the Mission and Public Affairs Division and will start to address the challenges of reaching out to a generation which can confound our assumptions about how they see the world, the church and the gospel.”

Chief Education Officer, the Revd Nigel Genders, added:

“The priorities set out in Going for Growth include every young person having a life enhancing encounter with Jesus Christ and the Christian faith and recognises the vital need to enable the capacity of young people as agents of change and transformation. We are delighted to welcome Jimmy to bring a specific focus on youth evangelism to this work and look forward to working with others across the church as we seek to enable young people to reach their peers with the good news about Jesus.”

Information about Going for Growth can be found here

Why your church needs to know about Pokémon GO

Pokemon Go

The Church of England has written a very helpful blog post on what your church needs to know about Pokémon GO:

The NSPCC has issued advice to parents of those children playing Pokémon GO in the UK. Whilst we would encourage churches to engage with those playing the game, be they adults or children, we also understand the concerns that the NSPCC have raised with regards to keeping children safe. Our first priority as a church should be to provide a safe place for children and vulnerable adults with regards to Pokémon GO.

Please make sure you read the advice on the NSPCC’s website here:https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/keeping-children-safe/online-safety/pokemon-go-parents-guide/

If you have any concerns in relation to those playing Pokémon GO, please feel free to talk to your Safeguarding Officer.

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First of all, what is Pokémon GO?
Pokémon GO is a mobile and tablet app game which lets players find Pokémon (Animated creatures, first created in the 90′s, which players have to catch, train and battle with). The game takes place in augmented reality (meaning the game combines real life action with virtual gaming) by using GPS as you walk around towns, cities and other locations to find the Pokémon.

The game has been an overnight sensation with millions playing it around the world.

Why does your church need to know?
Your church might be a ‘PokéStop’ – real life buildings and landmarks that players have to visit to get certain items they need to play the game. Your church could also be a ‘Gym’ where players can battle their Pokémon. (Being Gym means people spend significantly more time battling Pokémon.)

Pokémon Go is therefore giving churches around the country a great opportunity to meet people from their area who might not normally come to church. However, we all need to be aware that this game means that children under the age of 18 may come into contact with people who may present a risk.

How do you know if your church is a Pokestop or a Gym?
Download Pokémon Go on your mobile or tablet. Through the game you will be able to see if your church is a PokéStop or a gym.

You might also spot people standing outside the church on their phones who may be playing the game and at your ‘PokéStop’.

What can your church to do get involved?

  • Place welcome signs outside: encourage them to come inside and offer them drinks and snacks. The game also uses a lot of battery so why not create a battery charging station? If you’ve got it, let them connect to the church’s wifi

  • Speak to players about the game: learn how to play it yourself, it’s a good way to start a conversation that may lead on to other things.

  • Hold a Pokeparty like Christ Church Stonehttps://www.facebook.com/events/246500169067368/

  • Tweet about it: Just like St Stephens Rednal and Hope Church Islington did. Don’t forget to use #PokemonGo

CofE Communications update – August 2016

The latest editions of InReview and InFocus are now available to download

Their aim is to keep people in touch with the activities of the Archbishops’ Council, Church Commissioners, Pensions Board and other bodies which serve the Church at national level.

 

York General SynodInReview

August’s edition of InReview, including news about York General Synod, The Church of England Vision for Education and more is available here.

Pupil Premium awards 2016InFocus

August’s edition of InFocus, including resources for safeguarding, Renewal and Reform and more, is available here (4-page version here).