Diocese of Portsmouth

    These teenagers aim to model real unity

    Children and Young People
    5 May 2024

    WHEN these young people get together each month, their church denomination barely registers.

    These 11 to 18-year-olds eat, pray and worship together at High Tide youth services, meeting at a different church each month. And they’ve been away for three residential holidays to deepen their discipleship too.

    What they are aware of is their commitment to Jesus and to each other. And they hope their example of church unity is a model for older Christians.

    Hannah Scott, aged 18, is one example of the fluidity these teenagers feel about denominations. She grew up at Leigh Park Baptist and attended Emsworth Baptist Church as a teenager. She helped out at holiday clubs at Church of the Good Shepherd, Crookhorn, and then started to attend its youth group. Now she’s on a Discipleship Year based at St Jude’s Church in Southsea.

    “When we come to High Tide, we don’t think about denominations,” she said. “High Tide is a lot of fun and we enjoy worshipping together. At the end of the day, there is so much more that unites us, and Jesus calls us to be one Church.”

    Amber Gadd, 17, from St George’s Church, Waterlooville, has been coming to the monthly High Tide youth services for almost two years. She said: “Our church youth group is quite small and meets in someone’s house, which is great for reflection and discussion. But we love making friends with people from other churches and worshipping in a bigger group at High Tide.

    “We talk about the differences and similarities in our churches, but it’s great that we all come together and those things don’t really matter.”

    Olivia Gate, ministries co-ordinator at Christ Central, Portsmouth, is one of many local youth leaders who has consistently brought her young people to High Tide events.

    She said: “Our teenagers adore High Tide. It’s special because they are able to be with so many other young people who know Jesus. So often we can be quick to see divisions, but these young people just see it as one Church.

    “Our group has talked about denominations and asked why they matter if people just love Jesus. High Tide reflects that, and I think it’s a model for other parts of the Church.”

    Teenagers worship together at the regular High Tide events
    Teenagers worship together at the regular High Tide events
    Prayer for others is an important part of the High Tide youth service experience
    Prayer for others is an important part of the High Tide youth service experience

    And Sam Ackerman, minister at Horndean Baptist Church, sees High Tide as a natural part of the ecumenical relationships he’s developed with other local ministers.

    “Young Christians can find themselves in a small group at church and even more isolated at school, so it’s great for them to see they’re part of something bigger,” he said. “One of the great things High Tide has done is the Jeremiah Project, which involved a few of the older teenagers doing regular Bible study and developing their faith even further. They even get a chance to lead upfront.

    “I really believe in ecumenism, and events like High Tide show there are ways for us to come together around what unites us and to learn from each other.”

    For more details about monthly High Tide youth services and the latest summer residential planned for this August, see: portsmouth.anglican.org/hightide

    Upcoming Events

    More events