Karen writes: When you arrive in Aston, one of the most noticeable features is the great numbers of young people. This is not only because the under-25s make up a large proportion of residents here (~50%), but also because it is a densely-populated area with several schools and two colleges. In the evenings, our young people are much less likely to travel out of the area for activities than their peers in other parts of the city.
This is one reason why the Salvation Army have chosen Aston as the site for one of their “New Expressions Of Church” pilot projects, known as The Wash. The officers of the project, Karen and Simon Cardy, are sure of their particular calling from God to serve in Aston.
As a church fellowship, The Wash intends to grow as a “youth church” ― a group mostly aged 16-25. The original Salvation Army congregation had already moved on to other fellowships before the launch of The Wash.
At present, the main focus of the ministry is local children aged 5-12 and their families. The children (who are receiving a great investment of energy, prayer and love through their involvement with The Wash at this stage) will reach their teenage years having already had a strong relationship with the Christian outreach workers and with an introduction to the Gospel through activities they have taken part in. This is an excellent foundation that The Wash can build upon.
Other Christian groups in Aston are actively involved in outreach to our young people, and a high priority is placed on co-ordinating activities and working in partnership. Partnership activities include a multimedia training project for unemployed young people, and outreach to our local schools by offering assistance with their assemblies, after-school clubs and Religious Education lessons.
In short, the local fellowships have a powerful shared vision for young people in Aston. There are so many opportunities to follow up. Please pray for the young people and families of Aston, and for all those (including myself) involved in youth outreach through the various Christian projects in the area.
David and Juliet add: Although it is a distant memory now, we were extremely encouraged by our commissioning service at the end of April. Over a hundred friends from different places and churches came to support us, and the whole service was a great celebration of community. Thank you!