Young adults in the Northern Australian Conference (NAC) had the opportunity learn about who they are in God’s image, how to deal with personal trauma, the link between communication and intimacy, and how a relationship should work in a biblical context in the Riverside Adventist School library (Townsville, Queensland), on July 29.
Presented by editor of Adventist Record and Signs of the Times magazines Jarrod Stackelroth, and his wife, Lyna, Godly Relationships was aimed at singles, dating and married couples, and was an interactive day of workshops, small group sessions and keynotes.
“We wanted to run this event because there is a need for our young people to have a conversation about relationships,” explained Pastor Travis Siutu, NAC youth director.
“Our young people learn about relationships from movies or social media as opposed to what the Bible says and, unfortunately, it is not a topic being spoken about in our local churches so we wanted to have a safe space where our young people could learn and talk about relationships.”
Together for 17 years and married for almost 13, the Stackelroths gave an authentic, story-driven perspective of relationships in light of some of the hurdles that young people face.
“It is important for relationships to have a good foundation and core principals in order for them to be successful,” said Mr Stackelroth. “We’ve had a lot of experiences—ups and downs—in our own relationship and feel like being vulnerable and transparent with the younger generation will allow them to be more willing to ask questions and share any issues they have when it comes to relationships.
“As a church, we need to create these safe spaces, that give our young people permission to share their stories also—to be authentic and vulnerable.”
Attendee Elizabeth Suchaneck from Aitkenvale church had this to say: “The program was really good. It was insightful and gave us the opportunity to talk about topics that are difficult to talk about and that are rarely discussed in church.
“It gave me the confidence that I am doing something right and showed me where I can improve in my relationships, especially the session about being my true self, not only in romantic relationships, but all my relationships,” she added.
“Our young people are seeking and searching, not just in regards to relationships but other topics too,” said Pastor Siutu. “It is our duty to give them a space where they can talk about these issues and give them something to think about as they tackle life.”
NAC hopes to hold more of these types of programs in the future.