Every year the European Methodist Youth and Children’s council (EMYC) meet and the aim of this meeting is to advocate for the voice of children and young people within European Methodism. Focusing on the young people and leaders who we work with and who we would love to reach out to. This year we had an amazing time in Porto, Portugal.

Forty-two people attended the conference this year with four of them being from the Irish Methodist church.  There are over 23 countries represented at these events and they are always extremely inspiring. This has been my fourth year at EMYC, each year I have had the privilege to go as a youth delegate. As a youth delegate, it has been an amazing opportunity for myself to go and meet people across the Methodist connection all over the world, to grow in my confidence as a youth worker and as myself.

For me, the whole conference is extremely relevant as we are able to help each other to grow and develop in our work with the children and young people we work with. Through EMYC, relationships between the youth and children departments from different countries have strengthened with us allowing the children and young people we work with to meet each other. IMYC invited the other countries to our national event “The Big Weekend” so it will be great to have some of our friends come over and worship with us and maybe even join us for Castlewellan Holiday Week in the summer.

One of the things we do at EMYC is called open space. Open space gives people the opportunity to talk about items that are important to them within their ministry. It gives us all the opportunity to share our ideas, resources and a space to ask our questions. The topics are always interesting and relevant, it is so helpful to hear how other countries are experiencing situations that we are going through. One open space group that I went to, we were discussing self-image among young people and the impact social media has on our self-image. It was really eye-opening to hear the conversations that have been happening in some of the peoples home countries and within their youth groups.

I have loved my time as a youth delegate at EMYC, getting to know people and getting to experience new things. One of my highlights each year is sharing communion with everyone, there is something so special about sharing communion with people from over 20 different countries, all praising and worshipping the one God. Over my time with EMYC I have learnt that we are so blessed with the resources we have, the young people we have coming through our doors each week and for the family that is the Irish Methodist Church.

EMYC has been an amazingly weird adventure and I wouldn’t change it for the world!

Claire Stewart