Michael Pryke, 18, has been welcomed as the new Youth President of the Methodist Church with a service at Oswald Elliott Hall, Stamford.
This important role in the life of the Church will see Michael represent thousands of young people across the UK, both at home and abroad.
Michael has taken up his new role following an election that took place at last year's 3Generate, the Methodist Children and Youth Assembly; taking over from the previous Youth President, Tim Annan.
In his inaugural address, Michael thanked former Youth President Tim Annan for his work over the past year before moving on to his own priorities and motivations for the year ahead.
"Every young person has a gift, a skill, a talent, they can offer the Church. Yet we do not take them up on it. And too often young people are looked down on because we are young," Michael said.
"It's time that we engage with the issues, to not be pushed to the back of the queue or line and to not be looked down on... We have the ability to make the changes that we want to see."
You can read Michael's inaugural address below.
My grandmother always used to say to me that patience is a virtue.
It is a virtue I have not yet learnt.
For a number of months now I have had to say that I am the Youth President Elect, or Designate – I'm not quite sure which I'm meant to say – and that I have to be patient to wait to say the next sentence.
My name is Michael Christopher Pryke and I am the Youth President.
For those of you who know me know I can ramble on for days about what I'd like to be able to do in my year. But in my order of service I was given a few months ago, Andy put 'a brief word'. Which I think is his way of telling me to get on with it.
I'd like to start by congratulating Tim on his year and I'm sure that everyone will join me in wishing you the best in your future endeavours.
I'm a great fan of the reading that Tim just gave to us: "Don't let anybody look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers". Especially that last bit, "set an example for the believers."
Often it's people older than us that set the examples for us, mothers, fathers, grandparents, teachers or ministers, all set an example to us. But it's rare that a young person in the life of the Church sets an example. And yet young people are so important in the life of the Church, yet sometimes we are denied the voice we do truly deserve. I have been very fortunate and very lucky in my life to have been given such a prominent role in the Church, but it is my wish, my hope, that every young person could have the opportunities that I have had. Every young person has a gift, a skill, a talent, they can offer the Church. Yet we do not take them up on it. And too often young people are looked down on because we are young.
It is my aim within my year in office to challenge this.
The Collins dictionary says: 'If you set an example, you encourage or inspire people by your behaviour to behave or act in a similar way'. My challenge this year is to inspire. To inspire young people about the Church. From there I'd like to see young people start to inspire the church itself, on a local, circuit, district, national and even an international level.
It's time that we engage with the issues, to not be pushed to the back of the queue or line and to not be looked down on.
Now is the time that we can say that we are proud to be young Methodists, because we have a voice. We have the ability to make the changes that we want to see.
Within my year in office, I wish to focus on the theme of hope. We live in an age where it seems that we have lost all hope, and we see in the news these negative stories, we forget there is always... there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.
I decided to focus on this theme after going to Kenya with Karabuni Children and meeting them and meeting a woman. Now she lived in a small shack. Not even the size of the front two rows here. And we walked to where she lived. There was a small child playing outside in the dust. The ground was hard. There was shards of glass and all other things on the floor and she had no shoes on. She was playing with these plastic bags crushed together to make a football. And she just seemed so happy. So gleeful despite the situation and circumstances that life had thrown at her. Her mother invited us into her home and said: "Ah, I see you have met my daughter Hope" and that has just stuck with me.
That we are so lucky in this country and I feel that we take for granted all that we have. So let us remember to be grateful for what we do have. Let us remember that no matter what life may throw at us, there is always hope.
Now when it comes to picking a hymn, I am very traditional, and I do love good organ music. And also as Methodists we are surrounded by some brilliant hymns, so it is rather hard. 'And can it be' comes to mind, speaking of the amazing love that God gives for us. I used 'Thine be the Glory' as my confirmation hymn. Or perhaps I could use 'All people that on earth do dwell.' But after an awful lot of deliberation, and mum telling me that 'All things bright and beautiful' is not an acceptable choice.
I settled on a hymn by Frances Jane van Alstyne. It speaks of the great things God has done for us and I am very thankful for the opportunity that God has given to me this year.
So to coin a phrase that I do rather like, as Methodism was born in song we shall sing: 'To God be the glory, great things He has done.'