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Young people set to "regenerate" the church at national summit

Thursday 3rd March 2011

More than 100 young people are preparing to meet with Church of England bishops at a national summit in Sheffield where the future of the church will be discussed.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, will be attending the Regeneration Youth Summit on March 3rd along with more than 25 bishops and 30 youth leaders.

Regeneration is being led by young people, aged between 15 and 21 years old, and offers them a unique opportunity to meet with bishops on their terms. Throughout the day they will seek to make the future generation a priority for the Church of England and discuss in small groups how the church can better equip, resource and reach young people in the UK.

The youngest member of the Church of England's General Synod, Sam Follett, 20, will be leading the event with the help of five other young people and Church Army's Chief Executive, Mark Russell, 36.

Regeneration, the brainchild of Mark Russell who is urging the church to put young people at the top of its agenda, is being sponsored by Church Army with the support of The Archbishop of York Youth Trust.

Mark Russell said: "The church is wrinkling and shrinking; we are neither reaching nor discipling young people in significant numbers. The Church of England in many places has an average age of over 60, and the missing generations see the church as irrelevant and sidelined.

"I passionately believe the Christian message has something powerful to speak into young people's lives. Both as a youth worker, and as CEO of a mission agency, I have seen how the Christian message can change lives"

Regeneration is taking place between 9.30am and 5.15pm at St Thomas Church Philadelphia, 6 Gilpin Street, Sheffield, S6 3BL.

Quotes about Regeneration

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, said: "I hope this will be an event that really connects the church with the energy and vision of young people, so that God's loving purposes can be taken forward with fresh commitment."

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, said: "I have the highest admiration for young people; some people say they are our leaders of tomorrow but actually they are our leaders of today! It is my prayer that through events such as Regeneration that young people will be inspired to be the change that they want to see in their own communities."

Regeneration has also secured the backing of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Church Army's President. He said: "God loves young people, yet so many young people have little or no connection with our church. As President of Church Army, I am delighted it is sponsoring this major event to address this challenge head on. I pray this summit helps empower a new generation of young people to make a difference in our world for Jesus Christ."

The Bishop of Sheffield, Dr Steven Croft, said: "I am really delighted that this event is taking place in Sheffield and looking forward to welcoming and listening to what these young people have to say. Engaging through faith with the reality of people's lives involves listening to one another's stories. Regeneration should enable us to do just that!"

Sam Follett, said: "I am certain this day will not only be a day of affirmation for this generation of young people, but one that will encourage and inspire our church's leadership; giving them hope for the years to come. Helping to organise this event has been a real privilege and I pray that we will all walk away from it challenged and empowered to bring about the change we long to see – young people being reached with the life-transforming gospel of Jesus."

Andy Croft, Associate Director of Soul Survivor, said: "Regeneration is a fantastic opportunity for us to gather as family, worship, pray and listen to each other as we discern a strategy for youth ministry in the coming years. When current leaders meet young people anything can happen, my prayer is that God brings about tomorrow today."

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