After we announced Ant Horton as our new Chief Mission Officer, Premier YCW got in touch to ask Ant about who he is and what really excites him about the new role. Here's what they published last month...
"It is very life-giving to have places where young people can be themselves..."
YCW: What is your background?
"I enjoy journeying with people and have spent most of my working life in youth work. I started as a volunteer leader in the church youth group at the same time I was working in the reprographics industry. Following a sense of calling to change careers, I studied youth ministry at Oasis whilst being part of the youth team at Bromley Baptist Church. In 2001 Rachel (my wife) and I moved to Guildford to take up the role of the Youth Pastor at Millmead, then in 2015 I became CEO of east to west."
YCW: How did you hear about Urban Saints?
"I have known of Urban Saints (Crusaders) since I went along to a group when I was in primary school (in Petts Wood in the London Borough of Bromley). It was at a time when the group transitioned from meeting in a Church hall to meeting in the local school, the change meant that more people came along. Looking back, it was probably my first lesson in mission, going out from the church into the community. When Rachel and I moved to Guildford, we were introduced to the amazing group of Urban Saints where one of my sons is now involved. It is very life giving to have places where young people can be themselves and be able to create a shared identity where they can experience God’s love."
YCW: How have you found youth work?
"In the last 30 years of youth work, there have been many ups and downs for me, yet through it all, I have realised that God has called me to create places where people thrive. This might be in groups of young people, in teams that I lead or am part of. I am motivated by developing cultures where we learn by doing, recognising our values and explicitly living them out. As a friend of mine puts it, “If we take care of the values, the mission will take care of itself”. Over many years I have come to understand the importance of forming cultures that are supportive, where it is safe to try, fail, learn and celebrate together. All of this is in the context of knowing our identity is in God (John 15).
Over recent years at The east to west Trust, we have seen a growing focus on young people’s wellbeing and mental health. For all of us, the last year has been like no other. However even before Covid-19, the demise of open access youth work settings in communities and the strain that CAMHS services are under, gives a huge opportunity to bring together the young people in our communities who are longing for connection. This will be a collaborative effort for Urban Saints and other organisations to create life-giving local groups for young people across the UK and Ireland.
I am hugely excited to be given the opportunity to join Urban Saints and to get to know everyone in the movement. From what I know from the local Urban Saints leaders, the movement is made up of highly committed people who want to see the best for the young people they serve. I am looking forward to joining in on what God is already doing through His people and stepping into the future together."
(First published by Premier Youth and Children's Work. Reproduced with permission)