New church gap year to encourage vocations for young people looking to serve their community

'Persuit' is a gap year initiative from the Diocese of Chichester
'Persuit' is a gap year initiative from the Diocese of Chichester

Young people are being invited to spend a gap year serving their community through the Anglican church.

The ‘Persuit’ Gap Year initiative has been developed by the Diocese of Chichester’s youth team for young people discerning their vocation and call and includes leading its May Camp youth event and an oversees mission project.

Dani Taylor, Diocesan Youth Officer is leading the scheme, which she said would give young people the opportunity to focus on an area of ministry that inspires them.

She said: “Our vision for the Pursuit year is to see a generation of young leaders released to learn, grow, be challenged, make mistakes and, most of all, to lead in step with Jesus.

“However, our vision is beyond a year - the journey towards being a great leader is a lifetime pursuit. We want young people to catch God’s vision for his people and to be the outworking of that in the world.

“Participants will be able to spend a year, unhindered by responsibility, listening to God, serving in the local church and discerning their vocation and call.

“They will have the opportunity to love and serve the local church and their community as well as give time to God and deepen their knowledge, theologically, biblically, spiritually and practically.

“We want all associates to be able to gain hands-on experience that comes from pursuing God, seeing where he’s working and joining in.

“Each associate will have the opportunity to be involved with our flagship diocesan youth event, May Camp. They will be given the chance to plan, lead and experience more than 500 young people coming together to worship and learn about Jesus.

“They will also embark on a two-week overseas mission trip, experiencing serving Jesus in a new and challenging location.”

Rev Carl Smith, rector of St Mary’s, Slaugham and St Mark’s, Staplefield, completed a similar scheme formerly run by the diocese called YES (Youth Equipped to Serve) at St Luke’s Prestonville in Brighton in 2000.

He said: “When I reached the end of my time at college, I knew I wanted to do something for God but was unsure as to what that could be.

“A number of people suggested I try a year out in the diocese. I worked for a church in Brighton, mainly with the young people, but also getting involved in the worship music, PCC, as well as some city-wide ministries.

“It was great to have a year in which I was able to explore different aspects of ministry inside and outside the church, aided both by an amazing mentor and a great vicar.

“It was also really formative for me to share this experience with five others who were doing the same year out in other churches.

“I highly commend a church-based year out to any young person who wants to explore ministry in any capacity.

“So much of what you learn will be transferable to so many situations in your future ministry, whatever that may look like.

“I hope that, now I am ordained, I will be able to encourage someone in the early explorations of their vocation the way I was encouraged in my year out, and hope that St Mary’s and St Mark’s can become a placement for someone who wants to go on this adventure of discovery with Jesus.”

For more information contact Dani Taylor at dani.taylor@chichester.anglican.org or go to www.pursuitchichester.org.