Youth Group at Dan-y-Graig LEP

At Dan-y-Graig LEP Church in Risca, as with many churches since the pandemic, we have not been immune to declining numbers, especially with our young people. Before the pandemic, we had a thriving Sunday School. However, during the pandemic, time did not stand still and our young people grew up, and have busy lives with school, college, university, other commitments or now have weekend jobs.  

Although our young people may not be able to attend our traditional Sunday services, we had to think of ways of adapting to suit them as important members of our church family.

For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:20)

Last year, we started a monthly group with the young people, where we undertake a variety of fun and engaging activities such as film nights, sports day, and cooking lessons where we made leek and potato soup. In our May get-together we hosted a vegetable planting evening; this was a chance to teach our young people about God’s creation in a fun and engaging way, whilst looking at the environment and our role in it. It was also an opportunity to play in the mud. As per the typical Welsh weather, rain nearly stopped play, but a few raindrops wouldn’t stop our young people!

Picture the scene: our church vestry, tarpaulin, ill-fitting gloves, five big bags of compost and a few packets of seeds. Let’s just say, Monty Don is safe in his job for a while! Despite there being more compost on the floor than in the planters, it was wonderful to share this time together.  

The young people planted potatoes, leeks, carrots and spring onions. Hopefully, we might see the fruits of their labour at the Harvest festival in September. We may even get some of our young peoples’ famous leek and potato soup.

There’s also nothing wrong with a bit of healthy competition either, so we started a sunflower competition using sunflower seeds donated to the church. The contest is still underway, and provides a great talking point for everyone when they enter the church grounds. We do however have a confession to make; we did discover a few weeks after planting the sunflowers that the seeds we had planted were dwarf sunflower seeds, so perhaps the ambition for a 6-footer is a little optimistic!

It is lovely to see the young people every month, in fellowship together in and around the church. There is always lots of fun, lots of laughs and, as any good church gathering, lots of tea! The young people bring so much life and enthusiasm to church. It’s because of them we’re embarking on a mission to start our accreditation for a Bronze Eco Church award. They are so passionate about the world we live in, that they want to protect it, and they see church as a place that they can help to do that.

Dan-y-Graig has entered a new chapter, and as always, we are adapting to, welcoming and embracing the change. We have been very fortunate to receive the Daphne and Bethan Jones Memorial Fund grant which will enable us to grow our group and undertake bigger and better activities over the next year! The young people are so pleased and grateful for the support of the URC.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

With thanks to Gareth Coombes, Dan-y-Graig LEP