8 April 2020 | Watford, England [Natalie Davison]
A rapid close-down of major events and then churches has meant British Pathfindering has undergone a major change to adapt to the COVID-19 crisis.
The Adventurer and Pathfinder Bible Experience Union Final, which took place entirely online via the Zoom platform on Saturday, 14 March 2020, was a major transformation from a physical to an online event with just three days’ notice. Now with families in lockdown, with no opportunity to meet for Sabbath school, youth programmes, Adventurer or Pathfinder clubs, and church services, the British Union Conference Youth department has moved much of their programme to digital platforms.
Within just one week, Pastor Adam Ramdin, North England Conference (NEC) Youth director and Pastor Anthony Fuller, South England Conference (SEC) Youth director, both held very successful Youth Week of Prayer events on Facebook from 21-28 March.
Regional directors also took part in online streamed talks for local churches, such as the Stanborough Park Church nightly talks for youth, which featured Pastor Clifford Herman, SEC Pathfinder director, and Pastor Dejan Stojković, BUC Youth Ministries director, amongst others. Hundreds of youth logged in, watching and contributing to the online discussions, talks and studies. Not content to run the programmes only for the Youth Week of Prayer, the online forums have continued in both Conferences with almost daily programmes including health & wellbeing slots, Bible studies, book clubs and more.
Adventurers and Pathfinders are not being forgotten. Following an urgent meeting with regional Pathfinder directors, Pastor Stojković introduced e-Club Pathfinder tutorials on, 29 March. Using the BUC Facebook page live and Zoom platform trialled so successfully for the Adventurer Bible Experience (ABE) and Pathfinder Bible Experience (PBE) testing, hundreds of Pathfinders and their leaders linked in for the inaugural session at 10am.
Paula Carillo, BUC IT director and former Pathfinder club director at Stanborough Park Church, taught the basics of British Sign Language and had an enthusiastic audience signing and singing along with her. This was followed by Clifford Herman presenting the Peacemaker e-Honour. Finally, but not least, was a very informative and well-presented Fire Safety e-Honour from Jason Edwards, a firefighter employed by the Avon Fire & Rescue Service. This included a ‘virtual’ tour of his fire station since a real tour would not be possible under the lockdown circumstances.
Pastor Herman is encouraging the SEC Pathfinders to study for their honours at home as well, by introducing a set of Honours which can be achieved in their own time. The details are all on the SEC Pathfinder website and include pre-recorded video sessions, worksheets and tests. He will also be a regular presenter for the live BUC e-Honours.
The community spirit on Zoom was so encouraging and it was as if the children, sitting in their living rooms with their families nearby had gathered for an extended club meeting. Messages flooded in during the live sessions via Facebook, zoom and WhatsApp, contributing encouraging comments and valid questions about each subject, while club leaders shared their joy for the opportunity to join a ready-made alternative programme for the Pathfinders. A father of three from Worcester church said it was the best morning his children had spent since the isolation period began.
Pastor Stojković enthused, “Despite the country being locked down, we are still able to encourage the children to develop their skills and maintain their relationships with each other during these trying times. There was a real connection element to the event on Sunday – it was like an online club promoting the spiritual, social and group learning experience they would usually have had in their regular clubs.”
The enthusiasm extended far beyond the British Isles. Being an ‘online’ club, people joined from across the globe including Dubai, the Netherlands, Bosnia & Herzegovina, the Virgin Islands, Australia, Serbia, South Africa, UAE, Montserrat, St Vincent, Norway, and the USA.
The Trans-European Division and the General Conference Pathfinder directors have both shared the event on their social media platforms and encouraged their readership to join in. Pastor Gary Blanchard, General Conference Youth Ministries director, will be teaching an honour next month too. As of 4 April, the programme has now expanded for the Adventurer e-Club.
Those who miss the live sessions can catch up using YouTube links and download the worksheets and tests. Full details are posted on the BUC Youth Ministries website. Most honours involve some homework elements which the students need to complete in their own time before filing everything in their club folder for assessment when clubs do finally resume.
Even in these troubled times, when we are not able to meet in person, providing the e-Club online programme for the Adventurers and Pathfinders and the Youth Facebook/Zoom forum each evening is proving to be a vital link for the children, youth, their parents and leaders too.
tedNEWS Staff: Victor Hulbert, editor; Deana Stojković, associate editor
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