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Young Voices Speaking Old Words: A Lectionary Revolution – BACI’s Spring Lecture

Young Voices Speaking Old Words: A Lectionary Revolution – BACI’s Spring Lecture
RevoLectionary writer Emma Rothwell and founder Scott Evans (Centre) with BACI committee members, the Revd Dr William Olhausen, Barbara Bergin, Canon Dr Ginnie Kennerley and the Revd Jack Kinkead at the BACI spring lecture.

There is a story being told on the internet which is not being informed by the church while there is a narrative happening in the church which is often not informed by the wider world. So says Scott Evans, founder of RevoLectionary, the weekly online blog on the lectionary which is written by young adults.  

Scott was speaking at the Biblical Association of the Church of Ireland’s Spring Lecture which took place in Christ Church Cathedral,Dublin, yesterday (Sunday April 29). He was joined by one of RevoLectionary’s writers, Emma Rothwell, who is the Diocesan Youth Officer for Meath & Kildare and chaplain at Wilson’s Hospital School.

RevoLectionary is a 600 to 1,000 word blog released every Tuesday on the readings for the following Sunday to help people who are going to be preaching to engage with the text and hear young adults’ perspectives on it. It is also for people who are interested in following the lectionary and hearing the voices of young adults.

The blog grew in response to three challenges and three opportunities. Scot identified the challenges as being Biblical illiteracy and the difficulty young adults have in engaging with the Bible; the need to engage in the online world; and the need to bring the perspective of the wider world in which we live to the church.

“There is a story being told on the internet that is often not being informed by the church so we wanted to introduce ourselves into that space and be part of the online conversation. But there is also a narrative that is happening in the church world that is not being informed by the wider world in which we live. We wanted to be able to participate in that so that we could feed into the conversations that are happening in churches,” he explained.

He also identified three key opportunities which he said included a local and global network of clergy and lay readers who have to preach on a particular passage every Sunday. “We have a captive audience and there is not a lot of people creating stuff for them,” he pointed out. He added that creating websites has never been cheaper or easier. Most importantly he highlighted the “unique relationships with passionate and articulate young adults who truly care about what’s happening in the world, what’s happening in church and what’s happening in Scripture”.

Emma Rothwell spoke about why she enjoys writing for RevoLectionary. She wanted to get involved because she loves to study the Bible and share it with others and was delighted to get the opportunity to go deeper into the Bible. She spoke about her background in the Church of Ireland and as a student of the Bible and highlighted the foundational value of children’s ministry.

But she said that when young people enter secondary school the Church of Ireland failed them. “We confirm you and then give you no idea what to do or how to be a Christian after that point. That’s difficult because young people won’t come, they won’t come to church or to anything that you’re doing so the blame can’t really be put on clergy. But you don’t get a step up as to how to read the Bible as an adult,” she commented.

The lectionary is a discipline and being involved in Revolectionary is a discipline for her, Emma explained. As someone who prepares a weekly sermon for her school, she said she realised it was easy to fall into a rut and ask what will they get out of this piece of Scripture. In RevoLectionary she is not feeding a congregation but starting a conversation.

She stressed the importance of stories and the narratives of the Bible and the lectionary is based on the idea of story and continuing the story. “The spirit of the age is yearning for the narrative approach… people want a truth that feels real,” she said.

Concluding, Scott said that the strength of the project was the diversity of the team of writers and their different backgrounds from which they approach the text. He said all the contributors, except Emma, were raised outside the Church of Ireland which raised the question of how the Church of Ireland could create models for increasing Biblical knowledge without bringing in people from the outside.

He said the success of the project would be measured by its capacity to create ways to increase Biblical knowledge and understanding of the text and to raise up students with knowledge and wisdom. He said it also gave young people the opportunity to create an ethical framework which is dynamic and nuanced because it is them we need in our pews and pulpits in the future.

RevoLectionary is funded by the Priorities Fund of the Church of Ireland. It can be found at www.revolectionary.com/.  BACI exists to enrich and deepen the use of the Bible in the Church of Ireland. See www.bibliahibernica.wordpress.com

BACI’s spring lecture was livestreamed on Dublin & Glendalough’s Facebook page. You can watch it back here: