Walking into Media City UK Church, one might hear first-year Youth & Community student Amy Swan plying her fellow youth workers with theological questions, and drawing them into friendly debates and discussions.
Amy Swan grew up attending a Nazarene church in Scotland, so it seemed natural to enroll at Nazarene Theological College in 2017 to earn her Bachelor’s Degree in Theology (Youth & Community). Thus, until now, she says her theological exposure has been limited to that of her home denomination.
But at her placement with Media City UK Church, located at Oasis Media City Academy in Salford, Amy is working alongside and learning from more experienced Christian youth workers from a variety of denominations beyond her lifelong experience in the Church of the Nazarene.
Being exposed to the ways people from other traditions do ministry has expanded Amy’s perspective and understanding of youth work, and added to her practical skills toolbox.
“When you meet people of different perspectives and denominations, it’s a whole new world,” she said while preparing for a Thursday night Café Church service. “The way they would do things to the way I would do things – it’s cool to get different ideas and different ways of doing things.”
I actually really enjoy it, I like getting to know someone on a one-to-one level, just sitting having a chat.
Amy started the placement in September alongside her coursework, and will continue in the placement for the three years of her studies. Media City UK Church has given placements to several NTC students in the past, and values the extra help in mentoring children, assisting with Thursday night Café Church, Friday night youth club and chaplaincy lunch times at the school.
“The biggest thing is having people who are able to think outside of a church context,” said Adam Webster, community development leader at Media City UK Church. “But also because of the nature of the work, it’s very much sink or swim. Amy can swim. She’s a good pastoral support.”
Amy has been mentoring two girls since spring term started, after receiving mentor training with Adam through the autumn term.
“I actually really enjoy it,” she said. “I like getting to know someone on a one-to-one level, just sitting having a chat.”
The girls have been referred for mentoring, and although Amy knows the issues behind the referrals, she waits for the students to broach the subject. So far, each girl has developed a sense of trust to be able to mention it on her own.
The Thursday evening Café Church is held in a space inside the Academy, but students and families from other schools also attend. Amy is in a rotation of helping to plan and lead the service; when not leading, she is there in a support role.
She was drawn toward youth work through a sense of calling to the youth at her local church.
“I really get on with young people,” she said. “I felt God was calling me into some sort of ministry, and I chose youth.”