Allowing space for growth is a key part of ministry with young people.
In our journey as a PULSE team, we have opportunities to connect with young people from across the Uniting Church, build relationships, and help encourage them to use their gifts and skills both in and out of church.
Unlocking keychain leadership is important. To empower others, especially young people, to grow into their gifts, to grow in their faith journey, and to grow into leadership positions in the church.
It is a blessing to see one of the many young people we have met and got to know develop and gain confidence in himself and his leadership capacity.
Michael Ramaidama Utoni is a Fijian born young adult who attends Burwood Uniting Church.
Having first met Michael at Synod in 2019, it was great to see another young Fijian in the space. Passionate, outspoken, charismatic, and authentic, I was excited to build a relationship with Michael and see what opportunities we could help him be a part of.
With his passion for climate action and already some involvement in the climate space from ties with Christian Students Uniting, it was only logical to invite him to more spaces to share his story, his voice, to continue to advocate for climate action.
An outcome of this has been a beautiful poem shared at the 2021 Why the Uniting Church supports the School Strike 4 Cliamte Movement Online Forum, that has just been reshared with video production at the recent Young Adult Climate Policy Forum.
His poem, I am, shares the experience of rising sea levels and the continued cry to have his home, his identity, saved
I hope that we continue to journey with young people and hand over leadership, put a spotlight on their voice and concerns, allow them to grow into these spaces, give space for them to share resources with the wider community.
I challenge congregations with young people in them, to be intentional with their growth, how you support them, the opportunities you provide for them.
I challenge congregations without young people in them to find ways to support and help in the growth of young people in your local communities, in your families.
Allow that space for growth and opportunity.
Ofa Foiakau is the Youth/High School Ministry Lead and Field Officer (Central/West) within the PULSE team.