From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Youth Ministry Workers From The Church of Scotland

Date 04 May 1996 16:06:07


96049     Youth Ministry Workers From The Church of Scotland 
                         Tour Louisville 
                         by Julian Shipp 
LOUISVILLE, Ky.--Three people engaged in youth ministry for the Church of 
Scotland toured Louisville, Ky., Jan. 19-24, and included a visit to the 
Presbyterian Center. 
     The visitors, Steve Mallon, Kathy Hooke and Campbell Bell, said that 
in their conversations with youth throughout Scotland they have found that 
many young people are spiritually aware, but most do not view the church as 
the locus for working out their spirituality. 
     Mallon, Hooke and Bell minister to youth on two fronts: They work with 
local colleges and universities to provide leadership training for youth, 
and they give youth a greater voice in the denomination by training young 
adult leaders at the congregational level. Mallon, Hooke and Bell said they 
work with youth ages 12 to 25. 
     "We had heard that the issues facing young people [in the U.S.A.] were 
very similar to the ones facing youth back home," said Hooke, a youth 
adviser in Glasgow. "So we wanted to see how the [Presbyterian Church 
(U.S.A.)] is responding to this and how the church is trying to integrate 
young people into the life of the congregation. 
     "We've been talking about things like violence, drug abuse and alcohol 
abuse," Hooke added.  "And other things, too, like social attitudes, racism 
and sexism." 
     Of particular interest to the Scottish visitors was last year's 
Presbyterian Youth Triennium, a record-setting event held in West 
Lafayette, Ind., that attracted more than 5,600 young people from all over 
the world. 
     The Triennium is held every three years and was created by the 
denominational staff of the former United Presbyterian Church in the 
U.S.A., the former Presbyterian Church in the U.S., the Cumberland 
Presbyterian Church and the Presbyterian Church in Canada. 
     Bell, who is responsible for teaching certified youth ministry 
training courses, said the Church of Scotland has similar youth activities, 
including  "Youth Night," a celebration that occurs after the General 
Assembly.  He said the Church of Scotland also conducts youth assemblies 
every three years. 
     Mallon, who is the national youth adviser for the Church of Scotland, 
said one of the greatest challenges he faces in conducting youth ministry 
is forming long-term relationships with young people. He said gaining their 
confidence is not easily achieved, since many young people are cynical of 
mainstream religion or view religion as something "irrelevant to their 
     "You have to have confidence to build relationships with young 
people," Mallon said. "And I think what all of us are trying to do is 
connect with young people and engage them in a manner that they might have 
an understanding of God." 
     "In terms of young people identifying with the church and seeing it as 
having relevancy to them -- we don't see that happening that much," Hooke 
said. "In small groups like Bible studies, for example, you need to find 
what means of worship works for them and try to get them in the spirit of 
     The three visitors stopped in Louisville on their way to the 1996 
Young Life Conference in Orlando, Fla.  Bell said he hopes to both raise 
his own awareness of youth issues and share his experiences with other 
international delegates from different areas of the world, including 
Africa, the Far East and South America. 
     "I think one of the interesting things for me will be to see whether 
or not we have become a global village with the influx of technology that 
has taken over many parts of the world," Bell said. "But we've been very 
encouraged by everyone we've met so far. They've been very honest and open 
with us." 
     During their stay in Louisville, Hooke, Mallon and Campbell also 
visited Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Southern Baptist 
Theological Seminary, Cedar Ridge Camp, Actors Theater of Louisville, and 
several local Presbyterian congregations. 
     They met with several national staff members at the Presbyterian 
Center, particularly those who work in the Christian Education Program Area 
of the Congregational Ministries Division. 
     "Young Life" is a nonprofit, nondenominational mission organization 
whose purpose is to show adolescents Jesus Christ and his relevance to 
modern life. It has served teenagers for 50 years and now operates in some 
440 communities in the United States and Canada and 32 overseas countries. 

For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
  phone 502-569-5504            fax 502-569-8073  
  E-mail   Web page: 


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