The Lambeth Talk

I had the privilige of being up in Leicester yesterday for an international gathering of young people and Bishops ahead of the Lambeth conference. The idea was for young people and Bishops to be in dialogue, and to explore and hear what the priorities were from the perspective of young people. The day was structured around the themes of Life, Faith and Power and was largely run by the young people which made it wonderfully messy, edgy and fun as well as deeply meaningful. As you can probably imagine, issues of justice, poverty, the environment, aids and the mission of the church were of primary importance to the young people.
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I was particularly struck by one piece of drama on the issue of Power. The setting was the end of a church service and the ‘adults’ were audibly discussing the service and whether it had engaged the young people. The young people meanwhile, in white masks and only miming their conversation were revealed, by the text on the screen, to be discussing their disengagement, ideas for change and longing to be heard.
The young people were then invited into the adult meeting and asked if they were happy and engaged. They immediately agreed they were (while the text on the screen revealed their true and opposite feelings).
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I thought this was a powerful piece on Power. The need for the power dynamics to change through listening, giving away power and building of trust in order to hear the really real, to create a space and place where the power dynamics are no longer controlling and influencing the outcome.

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The group of young people that Anna and I took from the Diocese were so much fun to spend time with and I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation, debate and shared experience. Bishop John spent a good chunk of the day with us as a group. At the close when all Bishops were asked to pledge one thing that they would be doing in the next 12 months as a result of the day, Bishop John committed himself to working with young people to move youth representation in the Diocese forward, fab!
It was easy to spot Archbishop John Sentamu even with so many other Bishops present:
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3 Replies to “The Lambeth Talk”

  1. ‘Changing the power dynamics’ I think is crucial but I reckon its a process that takes a long time and effort on the whole church communities part…because the temptation is especially under the stress of organizing a service….to step in and take control, its so easy to do but so dis empowering to the young people. I think sometimes we do this without even realizing it…good article!

  2. that is what true participation and empowerment is about… I long for the day when young people can be honest about their disenfranchisement and also some adults and proper dialogue can take place with active listening…

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