By Bellah Zulu, ACNS
Youth leaders today expressed their appreciation to Southern Africa’s Provincial Synod for its support, but have asked for greater involvement.
On the last day of Synod, which has been going on since Tuesday this week, Provincial Youth Co-ordinator Tony Lawrence said to ACNS, “We have a lot of confidence in our leaders, especially the Archbishop, but at the same time there is still a challenge of them really listening to the youths and their ideas.”
Mr Lawrence said he was not satisfied with youth representation at Synod, “There are some concerns and in some cases frustrations that the voice of the youth is not been adequately heard."
He suggested the possibility of a Provincial Youth Synod to help highlight youth issues. “An idea we had some time ago is whether we could have a three-yearly Youth Synod running parallel to the Provincial Synod and discussing similar issues to input into the main Synod,” he said.
“This would be good exposure for young people and they would know and get used to meeting procedures. In addition, both the young and the old would really get to understand each other better.”
Provincial Youth Chaplain, the Revd Tom Tshiponyane said he was happy with how the Synod was tackling youth issues, “At least Synod has embarked on a vigorous general education campaign,” he said. “We are confident that they will support young people.”
Speaking earlier, Primate of Southern Africa, the Most Revd Dr Thabo Makgoba encouraged young people not to despair. He said, “The Anglican Church today is much more open than during our time. Things are changing.”
He challenged young people to take the initiative and not seek permission from adults all the time. “Young people need to know that they are also called by God,” he said.
The issue of youth education and how the Church can help was also discussed at length during Synod deliberations. Some members presented motions suggesting how the Anglican Church should emulate other Churches in Southern Africa such as the Methodist Church, which has turned all its churches into youth study centers.
“In some schools students aren't allowed to stay behind once classes end,” said one delegate. “This is bad for those who do not have a conducive study environment in their homes.”
Delegates challenged the Church to use the many retired teachers who are willing to contribute their time to help young people with their study and homework.
“The use of retired teachers can help students who are facing an increasingly challenging and difficult curriculum,” echoed Tony Lawrence. “The church can lay the foundation for academic achievement by encouraging and helping to develop hope in students that it’s worth gaining a good education to help them in their future life.”
To this end, Synod resolved that the Church in Southern Africa will “avail our infrastructure and human resources for education and academic development."