Back in the mid-70's, my local church put on a couple of musicals - Weller's Hill-Tarragindi Uniting, which had been a co-operative Methodist & Presbyterian parish for 4 tears prior to church union. I've recently uncovered and digitised the cassette recordings of the two shows. Here they are as mp3 downloads. The audio quality is what it is. I think the year was 1975.
I have a copy of the program somewhere and will add it to this post when I find it. The extant photos, however, will remain hidden for legal reasons.
The older youth and young adults, including me, were in the first musical, while the second featured the primary and younger secondary age kids.
Here are direct download links. Right-click (PC) or control-click (Mac) to download.
I'm at the Uniting Church's National Christian Youth Convention in Sydney. About 1000 people, very multilcultural, including about 150 indigenous people from right across Australia. An excellent first day.
Last week, the Adelaide College of Divinity Academic Board approved two new Diploma pathways, one in Children, Youth & Family ministry, and one in Discipling Adults. One of my final tasks at College has been to propose these new Diploma 'pathways' for approval within our Bachelor of Ministry. These are one-year full-time (equivalent) tertiary diplomas; students can continue towards a BMin if they wish. The pathways require studying at least one unit across all four areas of the degree, but then allow for specialisation within the total 8 units.
When the new BMin was created, the "Pastoral Studies" stream was split into a "Leadership" stream and a "Christian Education & Discipleship" stream. The latter stream is the one that I headed up briefly after the change. It allows for a range of units that are broader than the usual ordination requirements, so that we can provide for lay workers and members of the church who want to be better equipped in faith and ministry. This is an open path for following your call.
The new BMin allowed for some quite different subjects in the first year - a stronger focus on mission and culture, and seeking to engage learners whose focus was more on the practice of ministry that formal study of theology. So, for example, the two first year core units in our CE&D stream are "Spirituality for 21st Century Disciples" and "Media and Communication in Contemporary Culture". Not your usual first year BTh subjects.
One of our daughters is getting quite involved with The Oaktree Foundation, a social change movement run by young people, with almost no paid staff. Accordsing to their website,
"The Oaktree Foundation is Australia’s first and largest youth-run development agency. We’re another garage-startup. We began in 2003 with 30 people,
working in living rooms and public halls. Now we’ve grown to become an
established NGO, comprising of 300 volunteer staff and seven fully operational state offices."
Our daughter has been on the "Make Poverty History" national road trip to Canberra, attended by 1000 young people, is volunteering one day a week in the SA office (she had to apply and be interviewed for this), was making a promo video for them last night, and is about to go to Cambodia with them for 3 1/3 weeks to check out their development projects.
I'm intrigued by how empowered these young adults both feel and are. No-one in the organisation is over 26 years of age. For a long time I've felt that young adults will eventually leave any organisation that they are not running. I know so many Christian young adults who are more interested in changing the world than in joining the church. Church is not a 'cause' in and of itself, and most church youth or young adult groups have social transformation as a minor aspect of what they do, if at all.
I hate numbered lists and I hate them more when they use alliteration. So why am I posting eight "E" words. Today I was part of a consultation led by Sarah Wilke who heads up the Upper Room in the US, the Methodist spirituality publisher. She wanted to explore how they engage with those Gen X and Y who are on the fringe of outside the church, yet questing spiritually. It's a great question and it was wonderful to be part of a group of local educators and ministers to toss the topic around.
During the session I scribbled a page full of notes and I thought I'd unpack and share them here since I didn't get them all out at the time.
There's been a bunch of research done on the spirituality of young people, both in Australia and overseas, and I've blogged about that from time to time. For some reason I wrote down eight "e" words that summarise some of that combined with some of my own observations.
Eclectic - young people are comfortable 'putting together ' a fluid spiritual identity, drawing on different beliefs, practices and traditions. This relates to Anthony Giddens' notion of self-construction of identity in late modernity. It was reflected in the Gen Y spirituality research done in Australia. They're not necessarily interested in the whole system or package.
Experiential - people like Len Sweet and Mike Slaughter have been saying this for ages. Experience over information is the name of the game. I think partly that is the culture of the time, the 'language' of media, but it's also about seeing if it works for me.
Enjoyment - the Gen Y research in Australia found that young people mainly wanted to enjoy themselves. They hope for a good life now and later. They want to have fun and enjoy positive friendships and family relationships. I suspect that they don't assoociate church with enjoyment...
Electronic - we talked about about platforms today, but not about mediated spirituality much. We live in the electronic age, and I've written elsewhere about the connection between technology, spirituality and sexuality. Intimacy, transcendence and adventure connect these three things.
Environmental - the Australian Gen Y research found significant levels of concern by young people for the environment, even if they didn't know what to do about it. There's a bit of a paradox here between young people spending more time indoors glued to a screen and a heightened concern for our planet. Nevertheless voting patterns also reflect this reality.
Experimental - young people's spirituality is not only eclectic and experiential, I think it's also experimental. It is about creativity, adventure, new horizons. I wonder what it means for faith to be an active adventure.
Epsiodic - this isn't in any research that I've seen but time and time again I've encountered young people whose sense of God is connected to events - a big monthly youth worship service, a biennial youth convention, an annual leaderhip conference. These 'high points' are both transformative and sustaining.
Ethical - The "Spirit of Gen Y" study suggested that young people who were more 'spiritual' were also more ethical. This is a more complex argument and one that I'd want to contend. Nevertheless the study suggested links between spirituality/religion and ethical values or behaviour. The quest of young people to work out what is right and responsible is undoubtedly a spiritual quest.
I'll offer some more thoughts in the next couple of posts.
The Uniting Church's next National Christian Youth Convention is in January 2014. It will be 59 years since the first one was held. I thought I'd reissue the video that I compiled for the 50th anniversay NCYC here in Adelaide in 2005. It shows my age, but I've been to 13 NCYCs. I've been on staff for three of them. They have been life-changing for me, for thousands of others, and for some of our family as well. (well, in my view it's been transformational for our kids and I would do anything to get young people to go to them.)
So here's the video that I compiled a few years ago in celebration of that 50 years. It was screened at a celebration service in January 2005 on the afternoon before NCYC 2005 began. This was perhaps not the best timing, for me at least. I'd been up until 2.30 am editing the video, and NCYC 2005 started that afternoon, and I did have a supervisory role that week...
HUGE praise for Al and Rachel and Michelle and Peter and the rest of the team for that amazing week. Anyway, enjoy the reissue. BTW spot the twins!!