Renate Japenga. © Albin Hillert/CEC
Renate Japenga will soon turn 30, the age limit for attending the General Assembly of the Conference of European Churches (CEC) as “youth”. It is her first time at such an event and, after a couple of days, she has already realised how inspiring this experience is for her. “I don’t always feel young myself in this environment. But as I do youth work with the young people in my church I am getting a lot out of meeting people that I can take back for my work,” she says.
Like 75 participants at the Novi Sad Assembly, Renate attended the Youth Pre-Assembly Event from 28 to 31 May. The young people there were either delegated by their church to the General Assembly, or are advisors on behalf of European youth organisations, or, again, are stewards assisting in running the Assembly. In these four days, they benefited from learning how CEC works, delved into the topics and the challenges of the Assembly, and raised the voice of young people.
Renate is currently studying theology at the Protestant Theological University in Amsterdam. She has left her two little girls in the Netherlands in order to come and offer her services to the Assembly Worship Committee. “I have discovered so many things I did not know about other churches and other cultures. I’m going to be able to share all that with the young people I work with every day,” she says.