When our retiring SU Board Chair, Gordon Brown, gave his report to the 2018 AGM, he used the word ‘momentum’ to characterise the year of SU ministry.
He gave God the praise for significant positive impetus in our ‘Grow the Team’ strategy. Growing the team is about numerical and qualitative growth amongst young people, volunteers, staff and supporters and in each of these areas there is reason for thanks.
2017 saw us celebrating the 150th anniversary of SU and the diversity of the 600 people who attended and participated in the thanksgiving service towards the end of the year said everything about the team that is SU Scotland. From the person who had been involved with SU for over 70 years to the young people who led us in a praise song they had written, it demonstrated what God has done and is doing.
The celebrations took place against the background of a serious financial challenge. Here’s what Gordon Brown had to say about the bridging of the £250k gap in annual giving that we faced. ‘I have been associated with many Christians organisations over the years and I can honestly say that I have never seen anything close to the response that we get from our supporters - it is truly astonishing. I do want to thank all those who give to SU Scotland, whether in money, time and prayer support’. ‘Closing the gap’ is, of course, an ongoing issue so we still need to work hard to grow a financial base that is solid and sustainable for the future.
All this results from our shared vision to see the children and young people of Scotland exploring the Bible and responding to the significance of Jesus. The past year has seen increased bookings for SU Holidays, continued steady growth in our school residential provision at Alltnacriche and Lendrick Muir as well as the ongoing work through our 470 weekly school groups. The school groups are a major focus for the coming period with a target of 500 groups. We aim that the SHINE! Initiative, inspiring young people in secondary schools to reach out to their peers, becomes a fixture in the calendar for November each year; while a major push for volunteers will enable us to take up more of the unclaimed opportunities for SU groups in schools.
We look for momentum in growing young people who will lead an SU group in their school. It can be costly. Like the young lad who was only given permission to start a group if he first went and explained why to the school’s LGBT group. Or the young leaders who, having prayed and worked to start a group faced the disappointment that no one else came. Christian service can be tough but there are so many examples of labour that is not in vain.
Take our new centre at Gownbank for example. It opened in summer 2018 but only because of supporters who gave almost £270k to enable its refurbishment, local volunteers who have prayed for SU ministry for years rolling their sleeves up and mucking in; SU staff working above and beyond. And all so that children and young people can see and hear the gospel. So that momentum can be maintained.
Thank you for being part of the team. May the Lord enable us to grow together in love for Him and service of others.
Andy Bathgate and Jim Dewar