URC Youth Moderator reflects on her #10YearChallenge

hannah jones news bannerThis month, the #10YearChallenge has taken over social media. The premise is simple: post two pictures of yourself, one from 2009 next to a very recent one, to see how you’ve changed.

Hannah Jones, Immediate-past Moderator of the United Reformed Church (URC) Youth Assembly, gives the challenge a twist, as her term in office comes to an end.

Hannah reflects on her ten years of Youth Assembly experience using this year’s theme ‘One Body: We’re all in this together’. The assembly took place on 18-20 January:

When I started attending Youth Assembly ten years ago, I sat in the audience and never left my seat.

It wasn’t until my sixth Assembly – in 2016 – that I finally stood up and spoke. I felt compelled to speak at this Assembly because of the steps the Church took towards progression and inclusion by becoming the first UK Christian denomination to allow same-sex marriages.

This led me to think more about where URC Youth could focus on inclusiveness and diversity, and following conversations with my colleagues, we created the ‘equality and diversity representative’ role.

I’ve grown from being a quiet, often confused, member of Assembly, to someone who jumps up at the chance to speak, to becoming the Moderator of Youth Assembly.

I have witnessed change and helped create change. Has it all been worth it? Most definitely! The opportunities that came my way as moderator and being part of the URC Youth have varied vastly but enabled me to grow in my faith and as a person.

Ten assemblies ago I was a student in Year 10 with many life goals. I dreamt of becoming a doctor, of having a family and sharing my form of ‘church’ with them.

Ten years later, I am in medical school, have moved in with my partner, and have seen and shared milestone after milestone with my Church family, all of whom I met through URC Youth.

I learned three key points as moderator:

  • We all have a part to play in the Church. We each have so much to give, and so much to offer.
  • Don’t just use your voice to speak but use it to encourage action. Young people are not too ‘young’ to use their voices; Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist for female education who, aged 17, became the youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and Mahri Black, who became an Scottish National Party MP aged 21, are great examples.
  • It’s ok to get it wrong. The best lessons are learnt through trying something and seeing what happens.

The key aims of Youth Assembly are: making friends, developing in faith, letting your voice be heard, empowering young people and independence, developing yourself as a person and having fun.

So, if you’re a member of the URC and aged from Year 10/S3 to 25 years, then get involved with URC Youth and the Youth Assembly. I cannot recommend it enough.

Picture: Hannah Jones, Immediate-past Moderator of URC Youth Assembly. Inset: Hannah 10 years ago.