Rhondda Gower is a member of Gaetz Memorial United Church, Red Deer and was also one of the first members of the Regional Youth Council for those 14 to 17 years of age. She starts her Bachelor of Music studies at the University of Alberta in September.
As the first graduate of the Chinook Winds and Pacific Mountain Regional Youth Council, I am extremely grateful for the opportunity and experience that working with this group gave to me.
Connecting with like-minded individuals who share the desire to see change and growth in the church and develop ideas that will have lasting change is exactly what I have been looking for as someone interested in the politics and operations of the church. We had a very diverse group of young people and it was a pleasure getting to know everyone and learn about the experiences of the other youths in their churches and how it differed from mine.
Across provinces, from big city churches to small town churches, the way we experience the church and how the church treats its young people we found was different depending on where you were and many other factors. This was fascinating to me and as a now young adult in the church, helped me keep a lot of things into perspective as I start to engage in the wider church. As the oldest member, I appreciated the role I played as a mentor and leader to the other members who had never experienced being on a council or committee, and I loved watching them grow to love the process of the council.
Getting to work with such compassionate and driven First Third animators was also incredibly meaningful; their dedication to their work and patience working with us was certainly encouraging and having them teaching and supporting us through the process of creating and operating the council was incredibly encouraging.
Attending the 2023 Chinook Winds Regional Gathering as a member of the Youth Council allowed me to engage with my regional church community in a way that was incredibly unique due to my position, and contrary to my experience as a member at large at the gathering the year prior. The process of putting forward motions, watching the discussions and opinions held by the seasoned church members and then watching the votes occur was a tiring yet very rewarding and educational experience.
I had the chance to engage in conversations with ministers and leaders from across the region and understand their experiences and struggles with engaging youth in their congregations. I felt very much that I belonged there, that I was there serving an important purpose, and I felt that especially in the process of speaking to motions and engaging in discussions surrounding the proposals I helped create and eventually saw pass. Seeing the impact that I could make was eye-opening and has inspired me to continue being involved with congregational affairs and youth ministry.
Rhondda Gower graduated from Lindsay Thurber High School, Red Deer, this spring and is now starting a Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Alberta. She was a senior counsellor at United Church’s Kasota East Camp this past summer.
Interested in being part of the Regional Youth Council? Email Chinook Winds First Third Animator Chris Mah Poy.