I recently visited Thorntree Primary School in the east end of Glasgow where Susan Millar leads an SU group with the help of Kathleen Millar. I seized the opportunity to ask Susan how the group came about and what it’s like to run a sizeable and energetic group. With over thirty children attending weekly, they certainly have their work cut out!
Back in August 2014, Susan approached Thorntree Primary through her role as a youth worker at Shettleston New Church. “I went round the P6 and P7 classes as well as advertising the SU Group at assembly”, says Susan, who saw the group grow steadily since it first started. “On our first week, we had four P6 boys, but now we have up to 32 kids from P6/P7 coming along on a weekly basis to play games and hear Bible stories.”
With the group still being relatively new, some specific challenges cropped up “We don’t have a legacy of young people and parents who’ve been to SU Camps, so it’s challenging to introduce SU residential to the young people and their families”, explains Susan. “But I’m positive that, over time, that will change.”
Nevertheless, there are plenty of positives to take from running an SU Group, such as getting to know the young people. “Finding out where they’re from, what lives they live, what hobbies they have, it’s great. It really makes our SU Group feel like a big family.”
Telling the young people about the Bible and Jesus is a vital part of an SU Group and seeing the youngsters take in the stories is another highlight for Susan. “Hearing them retell Bible stories they’ve learned is great, they’re so good at remembering even the finest of details!”
Talking of stories, good material is important to run an effective SU Group. Susan: “I use a mixture. I’ve used some pre-written stuff, which is then adapted to the group. Currently, I am about to adapt an SU Light resource called 'God is Great', where we will be learning about God through the life of Solomon. Additionally, to support the story, I use a mixture of visual aids and group activities.”
In addition to preparation and good material, Susan urges that the right attitude is crucial in running an SU Group. “It’s all about getting to know the young people, and showing them that you genuinely care about them. It really creates a welcoming SU Group, one that the young people look forward to coming along to.”
Mary-Louise ('ML') Stone is the Regional Worker for Glasgow. ML is originally from Caithness but has lived in Glasgow for 8 years now and almost managed to master the city centre's one way system! She is a member of The Gathering Church and likes to spend her free time riding her motorbike, playing sports and spending time with friends (but not all at the same time).