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Youth Column: A Very Powerful Experience

Youth Column: A Very Powerful Experience

Monday July 8

Bethany Pringle reflects on the gifts of the National Youth Assembly ahead of the preparation for this year's event, which takes place next month.


The first National Youth Assembly I attended was in 2013. I also attended the following year, and then returned in 2018 after a few years away.

At the end of NYA 2018 I was one of 18 delegates elected to be a youth rep. The first couple of times I attended as a delegate I was only just old enough to go and quite shy. We are put into small groups during the Assembly and I remember my small group leader asking if I would like to be a youth rep. I immediately came up with several excuses; I was too busy starting university, other people would do it better, it just wasn’t for me. By the time I came to apply this year those excuses had fallen away, and I felt moved to put my name forward.

The 18 NYA youth reps are divided into three working groups each with six members. Each group was to focus on each of the three main topics from NYA. I was part of the end of life issues group. End of life issues is a massive topic. We realised the full extent of this when we started discussing what we hoped to achieve during the year. For example, we liked the idea of running social media campaigns alongside national and international days relating to end of life Issues, such as child bereavement awareness. It was very humbling to discover that one of these awareness campaigns exists for most weeks in the year, highlighting different struggles around end of life. Most of the work we have done centres around allowing conversations about difficult topics. We also thought about the role that the church has to play in facilitating this.

On May 4 we had our fifth and final youth rep meeting. It was sad to reach the end of the journey we have taken over the last year, despite all the achievements to celebrate and reflect upon.

One of the best things that NYA has given me and many other young people is other Christian friends our own age. Many of us attend a church where we are the only young person or in a very small minority. It is a very powerful experience to worship with 80 other young people, and especially to have the privilege of taking those important issues forward and working on them for a year.

I have been given the confidence to speak out about my faith, and also about issues that concern me. Even in my own church, I am now better equipped to use my gifts. Having a platform to be heard is so valuable and it is inspiring to hear others stand up and share their experiences and stories. Becoming a youth rep allows us to take those conversations forward through the year and try to do something really positive with them. I have had my voice heard and been listened to, whether by NYA delegates at one of our debates or through speaking at Guild meetings as a youth rep.

The next NYA takes place next month. We will have new topics and new youth reps will be elected to serve. I pray that anyone elected for the first time next year will feel the same sense of empowerment that I have been given.


NYA 2019 takes place at Gartmore House, Stirlingshire, over the weekend of August 16-19. Booking closes next week. More information and registration at eventbrite


If you are under 30 and involved in the Church of Scotland, and would be interested in writing for this column, please email us on magazine@lifeandwork.org

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