This sermon was written by Rebecca Cromwell who spoke during the YF lead services in both Kirkcaldy and Dunfermline. These are her words:
What does faith and going to church mean to you? This is a question which I’m sure we’ve all been asked on numerous occasions and is something which can be difficult
to answer, especially for teenagers. Do we just go because it’s a chance to see friends and because it’s part of our weekly routine or do we truly go for worship and a connection with God?
If you asked me that before I went to Glenalmond I would have probably told you that I go to church because I either have to go to serve or because mum said I was going. But since experiencing Glen, my attitude and perspective towards church has completely changed.
Glenalmond is a place for teenagers from all over Scotland to meet together and to share their faith with one another. We get up to all sorts of things, as I’m sure your already aware, but today I want to tell you about the faith, spiritual and community aspect of Glen.
Each year the theme of Glenalmond is different and links to everyday life as well as our spiritual lives. This year the theme was sci-fi and Star Wars and we had the opportunity to participate in various themed activities. I found it very interesting that the leaders managed to link the theme to Bible readings and our faith. One thing that I have realised and taken away from the week is that Glenalmound is a beacon that leads us into the light of Christ. This certainly, in my case, is true.
Glenalmound has enabled me to take part more within church life and to venture into deepening my faith and spirituality. I am now a member of the Provincial Youth Committee representing the Diocese of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane along with Rebecca Fleming.
This year I was honoured to be invited to speak at General Synod about PYC and Glenalmond. It was an absolutely fantastic experience that was nerve racking but certainly something very rewarding. I know a bit more about what happens at General Synod and the sort of things that get discussed. I was also asked this year to represent the whole of the Scottish Episcopal Church at the Church of Scotland’s, National Youth Assembly in the summer. It was a great chance for me to find out more about the Church of Scotland and the youth network that they have. I was apprehensive about going as I had never attended anything like National Youth Assembly before and I had never taken part in any church activities outside the SEC. I shouldn’t have worried however. Everyone was friendly and welcoming and the best thing about it for me, was meeting so many lovely people from different denominations. I am very thankful for these opportunities I’ve had because of Glenalmound and hope that others will also have the chance and feel able to take part in similar events in the future.
I think I speak for all of us in saying that Glenalmond truly is incredible. Each year it gets bigger and better. There is something so unique about the atmosphere there. We are all connected together through our faith, like one big, loving family. That’s what Glen is, a community and a support network. Each and every one of us is there for each other.
Last year, me and others received our exam results while we were there. Delegates and Leaders alike supported and comforted us while we waited to receive them and were there for us even if the results were not what we expected. For many delegates Glen has made them feel more confident in themselves and able to discuss how they feel and what they believe.
Certainly you feel like you’re not alone and it becomes easier to stand up and tell people that you are actually Christian because sometimes that’s hard to announce that when you attend a school where most people aren’t part of any religion.
We have also had teens attend Glenalmound who have never set foot in a church before, let alone know what the Eucharist is. They all came along because their friends were going and because they were curious to find out more about the Christian faith. They have all come back, year after year and have started attending their local Scottish Episcopal churches.
This really highlights how empowering Glenalmond is and I would ask that if you have a daughter or son of Secondary age that you encourage them to go to Glenalmound and experience it’s unique effect.
Glen 17 will sadly be my last. I want to thank all the leaders and delegates for making the camps so memorable and enjoyable and I hope that next year will be yet another one to remember. Next year on April the 1st we are celebrating 20 years of youth camps and youth work within the SEC. A special day of celebration is being held at St Marys Cathedral in Edinburgh and is open to anyone to attend. More details are to follow soon but put the date in your diaries and please come along.
Glenalmond has been played such an important part in the development of my faith. It really has opened my eyes to the light of Christ and made me realise that even when life seems dark and is tough, God is always there in all his glory.
At Glenalmond I have experienced creative and moving worship and prayer – very different from our largely traditional services in church on a Sunday. I have made life-long friends – young people from all walks of life with many different views and opinions.
I have learned that no matter what we do in life, where end up or who we become, God is there every step of the way.
And so it just remains for me to leave you with one last thing from Glen 16 – may the force be with you!
The provincial youth cross pictured represents the youth work carried out across the whole of the Scottish Episcopal church. The cross itself is made up of 7 smaller crosses representing each diocese (our own the light blue one). At each years youth camp (currently held in Glenalmond) physical crosses are brought from each diocese and put together in a jigsaw to symbolise the coming together of people from across the country.