At a time like this, it is reassuring to remember that Urban Saints has been around for well over a century. The people that make up this movement have overcome many tough periods and dark times – warfare, economic recession, spiritual decline and pandemics.
Even when our society and culture has changed, Urban Saints (and Crusaders before that) has adapted our approach to continue to provide safe spaces for young people to explore faith. The impact of the current coronavirus outbreak may see the way we engage with our communities change for the foreseeable future but we will always have local, weekly, face-to-face gatherings at our core.
Even after all these years, the concept of making disciples in local weekly Groups is not the only thing that has lasted long after the initial exchange in a London park between Albert Kestin and four boys in 1900 (read the story at: www.urbansaints.org/history).
A movement of ordinary heroes
Urban Saints has always been defined by a vast community of committed volunteers. These ordinary men and women have caught the vision to see their communities impacted with the hope of the Gospel and they have sacrificed much, over many years, on behalf of the children and young people in their communities.
A desire to gather together
From formal Sunday afternoon Classes in the early days to the array of local Groups that now form the Urban Saints network, we have always prioritised meeting together. Lasting disciples are not made in isolation but rather in regular relationship and ideally face-to-face (even when that is through a digital screen).
A heart for those beyond the edges of church
Urban Saints started when church attendance was the norm and then, as now, our mission has always been to reach out to those young people who will never engage with the Church. While our Groups haven’t always focused on the most needy of society, they have continued to engage young people beyond the reach of the Church, often in some of the most deprived areas of the UK and Ireland.
An access point to truly unforgettable experiences
The sight of young lads clambering over a huge working steam locomotive begs the question, are Urban Saints still able to offer the kind of opportunities that money alone simply can’t buy? From rallies at the Royal Albert Hall to adventures building communities in far off nations, via major theme park gatherings, weekend festivals and so much more... we think we can still hold our own in this regard!
A longing to seek adventure in the open air
We just love camping and it has always been a part of the very fabric of Urban Saints. Our Camps have been a formative and much loved part of our story since the very beginning. The camping experience itself may be a little different these days but Urban Saints still has a desire for outdoor adventure at its very heart.
A commitment to invest in future generations
We have never merely gathered young people. Being part of a Class or a local Group has always been a place of intentional development and disciple-making. The Leaders who modelled what it’s like to live effective Christian lifestyles have also poured themselves into their young Group members. Many batons of faith and leadership responsibility have been passed on for the sake of those yet to come.
A passion for the Scriptures and to pray
Teaching from the Bible and devoting ourselves to prayer have always been non-negotiable. It looked very different in our early days and it continues to change and shift with every new generation, in terms of style, interpretation and outworking, but the movement continues to be anchored by the same passages full of robust truth, transformative love and the power of God’s Spirit.
A calling to be more Christ-like
It’s a simple calling and yet we acknowledge that it takes a certain kind of commitment to see it happen. We are and always have been intentional about training to be more like our Saviour. From the youngest child to the most wise and experienced leader, we all know there is much left to learn in our discipleship journey.
A conviction that ‘good enough’ is just not good enough
Throughout our story, there are examples of leaders who would not settle for anything less than the best, whether it was how we celebrated milestones or memorials such as Urban Saints Westbrook for those taken in warfare. Even now we believe that our commitment to compliance and process is a justice response – the very best of our efforts for those we care about and minister to and those we directly serve who feel likewise.
It’s these qualities that have sustained Urban Saints over so many years and will continue to see us make lasting disciples in relational, missional Groups for many more years to come. What we do and how we do it may change, but our values remain exactly the same as always and they will continue to do so. These days present us with a pioneering opportunity, yet we will not compromise on who we are to see this generation become His disciples.
...and throughout, a great crowd of witnesses, invoking the passage in Hebrews 12, are standing together as different generations to ensure that Urban Saints continues to transform young lives for Jesus Christ. Urban Saints is built on people like you and our lasting legacy is the many faithful volunteers who have served and prayed over the years. We have a history together and we also have a future together.
Paul Windo - Communications Manager
Calling all past Crusaders! 'Crusaders Reunited' is a Facebook group for sharing memories of previous Crusader Classes / Groups, Camps and overseas missions between 1906 and 2006. We’d love you to share your stories, photos and memories of Crusaders, and to invite your Crusader friends.