Young, woke, Christians speak up in new book

Last Updated on 4 March 2022 by Ann-Marie Nye

A complaint about how young people’s views are often dismissed by churches has led to the publication of an important book.

Each chapter of Young, Woke, and Christian: Words From a Missing Generation, edited by United Reformed Church Youth member Victoria Turner, is written by a different young Christian from a different tradition.

It covers themes such as climate change, racial inclusivity, sexual purity, mental health, homelessness, food poverty, sexuality, trans identity, feminism, peace-making, interfaith relations, and disability justice, and is a cry for the reform of the church to not ally with ‘woke’ issues because they are popular with youth, but because they are gospel issues.

Victoria explains how the book came about.

“I was complaining again to my boyfriend about how young people’s political energy and vision of justice is often dismissed by churches.

“I told him my dream was to produce a book called ‘Young, Woke and Christian’ and just shout that these things we’re passionate about aren’t things that can be dismissed but are gospel issues. I also was really mindful that I wanted to use the charged word of ‘woke’ because it has such a rich history, and seeing it being misappropriated makes me quite sad honestly.

With a clear idea that she wanted young people to speak for themselves, Victoria set about sourcing contributors.

Renowned author and theologian, Professor Anthony G. Reddie, Director of the Oxford Centre for Religion and Culture at Regent’s Park College, who writes the book’s prologue says: “Young, Woke, Christian: Words From a Missing Generation offers a bold and prophetic vision for a radical liberationist mode of Christian faith that speaks to the need for churches to become allies to all those who are marginalised and oppressed. It is a bold call for Christianity to rediscover its radical roots and to side with the powerless, the weak, the poor, the broken hearted and those who are told that they do not count and that their lives do not matter.”

Victoria further explains the book’s importance.

“Young, Woke and Christian is important because nobody has argued against this idea of the ‘missing generation’.

“I feel like if my generation is missing then it means people don’t have to engage us as part of the church body. Also, I find that a lot of youth work studies which I have read concentrate on evangelical Christians, which have left me wondering where myself and my friends are because we don’t fit their models.

“I think there’s a big misunderstanding about my generation not being religious. We’re definitely Christians, but less dedicated perhaps to upholding flawed and fossilised structures and more inclined to look at where we can be disciples in the world.”

Victoria says she loved editing her first book.

“It was a joy,” she continues. “I did a lot of the work on trains to and from the Council for World Mission archives in the School for Oriental and African Studies in London from Edinburgh.

“The whole process has just inspired me and made me feel really hopeful. I loved the challenge of helping the contributors really nail their chapters, while at the same time trying not to lose their voice. It’s almost like mediation. There’s a lot of energy around it already which is so exciting.”

The book, available for £13.99 from the URC Bookshop, will be launched at St. Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace in Bishopsgate, London, on 16 March from 6-9.30pm. Tickets are free. If you would like to attend, please book your ticket here.