Government minister to address National Youth Assembly this weekend

Andrew MacPherson and Hannah Mary Goodlad,
Andrew MacPherson and Hannah Mary Goodlad, the incoming and outgoing Moderators of the National Youth Assembly

Nearly 100 young people from across Scotland are gathering tomorrow for the annual National Youth Assembly residential meeting.

Representatives from churches within around 25 Presbyteries will spend four days worshiping, socialising and discussing a wide range of issues including the number of young people suffering poor mental health.

Minister for Mental Health Maureen Watt MSP is addressing delegates on Sunday and will answer questions on what the Scottish Government is doing to tackle one of the most challenging issues of modern times.

Deep conversations

Designed to enable young adults aged 17-25 to have a voice within the Church of Scotland, the NYA features workshops on wide variety of topics from the future of ministry, gender violence, disabilities, honour killings, equality, democracy, homelessness, ecumenical relations and leadership skills.

Delegates will also discuss ways to help church congregations reflect on worship and encourage deep conversations about encounters with God.

The NYA has chosen Andrew MacPherson, a member of Broxburn Parish Church and a Boys Brigade officer who works in banking as a change analyst, to be its next Moderator.

He replaces Hannah Mary Goodlad. Lyndsay Kennedy will be the clerk for the 2016-17 session.

Mr MacPherson said: “The year ahead has great potential for the National Youth Assembly.“We are tackling issues that heads of government in our country are really focusing on at the moment including mental health and gender justice.

“We are delighted to be hosting Scottish Government minister Maureen Watt and I'm sure her input we be greatly valued as part of our discussion.

“Our other main topic is one which the Church of Scotland is investing a large amount of time and money - the future of ministry.

“The Church is looking at various forms that are in their relatively early stages like Fresh Expressions and Path of Renewal.”

Fantastic platform

Mr MacPherson said he was “very excited” about the year ahead.

“We have great opportunities to continue some of the great work completed last year under Hannah-Mary's leadership and I will be making my thanks and appreciation of her year known during our opening session this weekend,” he added.

“I have no doubt it will be tough but I'm excited to see what we can turn around at the end of the year.”

Miss Goodlad, a member of Queen’s Cross Church in Aberdeen, said her year as NYA moderator was very rewarding.

“It has been excellent and I gained lots of skills as a leader and have been able to meet some incredible people within and outwith the Church,” she added.

"It has been fantastic to have had a platform to speak from and promote the voice of young folk in the church at local, national and international level with my trips to Israel, Egypt and Brussels.

“I have tried to have a strategy that nothing is too big or small and say ‘yes’ to as many things I was asked to do.”

Strengthen Christian Faith

Miss Goodlad, who works in the oil and gas industry, said she had no doubt that the profile of the NYA had increased in the last year.

She added that highlights for her included raising nearly £10,000 for the St Andrews Refugee Service in Cairo (StAR) and distributing more than 200 school-start up backpacks to Syrian refugee children in Scotland.

Miss Goodlad, who said she was also proud of NYA’s work to highlight climate change, said the organisation was vitally important to the Kirk.

“The NYA encourages and strengthens the Christian faith of a lot of young folk by bringing them together,” she added.

“It also equips and inspires them to really make positive change within their own churches and they come away from the NYA engaged and energised.

“It develops young leaders and gives them a space to grow and voice their thoughts and opinions.”

The NYA gathering runs from Fri 19th August to Monday 22nd.

You can follow proceedings via the NYA’s Facebook page and Twitter feed.