Waldensian Review No 130 Summer 2017 - Page 8

On one of the guys’ backpacks there was a sticker that read ‘Mediterranean Hope’. I knew of that project, which is based on Lampedusa, an island near Sicily, and is funded by the eight per thousand of the Waldensian Church. In that one life saved we found a deep connection between countries, traditions, and customs, raised above all distinctions: humanity at its very best. That is the east end, too: people battling to survive through many adver- sities, addictions and mounting debts but still open and willing to learn and to change, and still generous to a fault. In the midst of it all is the church, which is may be small in numbers but not small in efforts, tirelessly working in hospitality with community groups, food banks and charities in and outside Scotland, making God’s love felt, one life at a time. Rev Monica Michelin-Salomon News from Sicily Good news from Sicily! For the first time in 20 years, a FGEI group has been established. FGEI (Federation of Protestant Youth in Italy) is the ministry for the Baptist, Methodist and Waldensian Churches that takes care of teenagers and young adults all over the country. Youth groups are fab and it feels good to be in a Church where young people are visible and active members. The downside of this is that youth groups are very delicate and may cease to be in a short space of time, due to people growing up or, as quite common in Southern Italy, moving up North. The previous FGEI group in Sicily was a very strong one, so strong that once its members grew up, for 20 years there was none to take its place. Eventually things changed and there is now a small and promising group that is officially federated to FGEI and attends local and national meetings. How was this possible? Creating a youth group in small, precarious and isolated Churches like the Waldensian and Methodist Churches in Southern Italy requires a complicated strategy. One important aspect is to begin to work immediately from Sunday school to Confirmation classes. In the last 10 years or so, the Sicilian Churches created a network for teenagers, called Catechismo Circuitale [meaning one or two meetings a year], with participants gathering from all over the island. It has proved a successful and useful idea. The numbers are still small, but it is far more rewarding for young people (not only for them) to meet twice a year in groups of 15 or 20 than meeting once a week as two or even four people in their own Church. Now those who attended these gatherings in the past years are in their very early twenties and find a way to be in the Church together. The English Committee of the Waldensian Church Mission gener- ously supported our teenagers in Sicily in the past years, both by financing the Catechismo Circuitale and the attendance to other meetings organized by FGEI. Little by little, step by step, with a little help from our friends (and with 6