The Youth Council was formed in 1974 by Dr Alan Cairns in an effort to co-ordinate and combine the efforts of the Free Presbyterian Youth. Since its inception the Youth Council has sought to extend Christ’s kingdom and develop Christian character among the youth.
Where did the youth council originate?
The first meeting of Youth Fellowship delegates was held on 19th February 1974 in Sandown Road church. The meeting was chaired by Rev. Alan Cairns, and attended by 38 delegates from 22 Young Peoples Fellowships. The list of delegates at that first meeting makes interesting reading – included are names such as Derek Irwin, Alan Dunlop, Reggie Cranston, all recognisable as men who have since become Ministers in the Free Presbyterian Church (In fact, it’s true to say that a considerable number who have attended and been involved in the Youth Council over the years, have subsequently entered training and “full-time” service in the Lord’s Work).
Why was the youth council formed?
The purpose of that first gathering was outlined by Rev. Cairns – to form a body, representative of the Youth Fellowships, which would co-ordinate and combine the efforts of Free Presbyterian Youth. Like our denomination in a sense, the Youth Council was born out of the midst of protest. The effort at that time to raise a protest against the rock-opera “Jesus Christ, Superstar” had highlighted the difficulties in contacting and organising Fellowships for a combined effort. On other occasions there were difficulties and overlaps in arranging Free Presbyterian Youth activities. The Youth Council was set up to enable Fellowships across the Province to more conveniently arrange joint activities. It also provides a forum (as expressed in its constitution) “to discuss Young People’s work in general for the edification of Free Presbyterian Youth”.
How is the youth council made up?
The Youth Council consists of two representatives appointed from each Fellowship, These delegates, every two years elect an ordained Minister as Chairman (or more officially President) of the Youth Council. Since its inauguration, twelve of our Ministers have held this “prestigious” office – Dr. Alan Cairns, Rev. Ken Elliot, Rev. Fred Greenfield, Rev. Hillis Fleming, Rev. John Morrow, Rev. Reggie Cranston, Rev. Ron Johnstone, Rev. Robert Walsh, Rev. Alan Lamont, Rev Samuel Murray, Rev. Thomas Martin and currently Rev. Ian Harris, each man bringing his own particular emphasis to the work among the youth. At the same time as the appointment of President, a committee comprising representatives from each county is also elected. The function of the committee (of which the President is also a member) is to “discuss and recommend to the delegates’ activities designed to further the objectives of Free Presbyterian Youth”. The Youth Council is of course subject to the authority and rule of the Presbytery in all matters. It should be emphasised that the Youth Council does not consider itself to be a “revolutionary voice of youth” ; quite the contrary, it is part of the overall body of the Free Presbyterian Church, and seeks to maintain that distinctive stand of our denomination.