CTE Enabling Group celebrates young ecumenists

Are young voices important? Catch up with the presentations from the gathering of our national Member Churches in October 2023.

The Autumn 2023 Enabling Group focused on encouraging the engagement of young adults in England’s ecumenical movement. This is a current strategic priority for Churches Together in England. The Bill Snelson Young Ecumenists Fund was launched at this event. Attendees also heard from young leaders from across our Member Church traditions.

In an opening reflection, CTE Trustee and theologian Victoria Turner asked Are young voices important?

Download Victoria’s slides from her presentation (pdf)

Youthscape’s Rachel Gardner shared research on the current youth cultures to help church leaders engage with younger generations

Download Rachel’s slides from her presentation (pdf)

In the ‘From our tradition’ session at Enabling Group we heard from the District Superintendent of the Wesleyan Holiness Church Rev David Whyte. David is the youngest-ever Superintendent of his denomination in England.

Download David’s slides from his presentation (pdf)

Young voices at their first Enabling Group:

Rev Lois Beynon

As a 30-something priest in the Church of England and a Denominational Ecumenical Officer (DEO), I really valued the opportunity to gather with leaders from such a wide range of denominations to explore the way in which younger generations are experiencing, and engaging with, ecumenism. The Enabling Group offered a space in which we could grapple with balancing attractional models of church with deep-rooted historical practices. This was a breath of fresh air amidst the rhetoric of ageing and diminishing congregations which are a tough reality for many churches.

Focus was placed upon ensuring tokenism is avoided, instead valuing the contributions young people bring. I was pleased to hear Rachel Gardner speak into this with the backdrop of her own mission field, which brought our conversations out of theory, and into reality. Victoria Turner also reminded us that young ecumenism isn’t anything new. Even at the World Missionary Conference in 1910, often hailed as the birthplace of ecumenism in the UK, Joe Oldham, then in his thirties, was one of the key planners for the event. Within my own denomination, there has been a real push to encourage young vocations in recent years, and it was a real gift to see this vision for encouraging younger leaders shared amongst other denominations, and by CTE.

Rev Lois is Team Curate in the West Hereford Team Ministry and is the Church of England DEO for Herefordshire.

Elliot Vanstone

I valued being at Enabling Group because it’s important for young people to be in the room where it all happens. To feel like you have a say and that your opinion is valuable. 

Young ecumenism is an integral thread in the overall fabric of ecumenism. Without the input and presence of young ecumenists, the future of our churches won’t be as strong as it could be”

Elliot is the Mission Adviser at the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and is a member of the planning group for The Bill Snelson Young Ecumenists Fund.

What is Enabling Group?

Our Enabling Group brings together CTE’s Member Churches, alongside representatives from Intermediate Bodies and Charities and Networks in Association.

Meeting twice a year, the group has the task of nurturing ecumenism in England (encouraging churches to work together) and provides a space for churches to discuss issues of common concern.