|The Band With No Name is greeted with enthusiasm during Gracefest 2010 at Ripon|
One of the myths that is around about rural life is that there 'aren't many young people'. (I hear that said by churches approximately once a day.) Actually one source of research suggests that under 16's account for only 0.9% less of the population in rural areas than in urban ones. It is true that the 16-24 year old age range migrate to the towns and cities in large numbers, but 43.4% of all migrants to the counrtyside are aged between 25 and 44. There's young and there's young, I suppose. But all this suggests that, even though we do have an aging population in the region, there ought to be quite a few under 40's around. And I think the evidence of my eyes tells me this is so! So I was interested when our Children and Young People's Officer told me about a conversation he had had with NYCC's Children's Strategy and Commissioning Officer who alerted him to the fact that there are young families who are isolated and perhaps needing help across the area, especially in the Ripon, Wensleydale and Richmond areas. On Sunday, at Sharow, the congregation was collecting toys for churches to distribute over Christmas and this got me to thinking about what we can do to support and encourage older young people and particularly young parents. Some of our churches have after school activities (not necessarily - indeed, often not - in church) and many of these result in parents coming to pick children up and stopping to chat, join in with activites and share refreshments. Several of these 'clubs' are bigger and more regularly attended than Sunday services. It's very good when the lines between Sunday worship and community celebration get blurred like this and great fun when the church goes to where people are.