Mark Wells is a full–time theology student at Queen’s University and a parishioner of St John’s Moira where he is an active volunteer.
It was Mark’s first visit to Albany Diocese and his trip had a slightly different flavour to the rest of the team’s as he had a chance to get involved with the youth work at the Convention. He shares his impressions below:
This year along with the Bishop and a number of other clergy I attended the 147th conference of the diocese of Albany. Leaving on 3rd June we spent some time in Greenwich at “Christ the King Spiritual Life Centre”, a wonderful conference centre facilitated by the diocese for ministry. This is also where the “Beaver Cross” camps are held each year and it was therefore very interesting to see these facilities and to see how these camps are organised and run. While visiting the centre I also had the pleasure of meeting the Diocesan Youth officer John Iseman and the activities coordinator for the centre Caleb Ames. They are both very busy individuals so their time spent with me, answering my questions about their ministry was very much appreciated. They have a wonderful vision for youth ministry within the diocese and it will be amazing to be able to pray for them and watch how God blesses them in these coming years.
After a few days in Greenwich we went up to “Camp at the Woods”, another conference centre a few hours north of Greenwich, for the Convention. Over 600 laypeople and clergy from all of the diocese (and all over the world) came together and it was wonderful to be able to observe this. Many different seminars and services ran throughout the week but alongside this the youth interns for the diocese and a number of volunteers ran the “Youth Rally” which I had the privilege to be a part of. Much like any youth weekend, this included a lot of fun and games as well as some worship and teaching time with the interns. It was amazing how the young people and leaders allowed me to assimilate into the group, to be able to minister to the kids and as well as observe how they minister to youth. It was a very professional ministry and I will certainly bring some of their energy and practical skills back to our camps in the summer.
One of the wonderful parts of the youth rally was that the youth were not completely separated from the rest of the conference. We were able to sit in for part of the Bishop’s opening address which marked the beginning of the conference, to partake in the very powerful healing service as well as being able to minister through worship in the youth mass on the Sunday morning (I was even asked to administer the Eucharist, which was a wonderful privilege).
Our brothers and sister in Albany do worship slightly differently to us, as they a certainly more high church than we would be but they are a vibrant and loving community of believers who are working to their utmost for the Kingdom of God. Their love and hospitality towards me and us as a group astounded me and filled me with a deep affection for the church there. I have learnt a lot in my experience with them throughout the week and look forward to being able to return their hospitality as they arrive in Northern Ireland in the end of June to come to Summer Madness with us.