How it all began

In 2004 a few ordinary people sensed a move of God to come together to discuss and pray, with different
pieces of a jigsaw of ideas coming together. The group came from diverse backgrounds and
denominations, but shared a common belief in the power of God to transform lives for good. The needs
of young people became the first focus, with so many disillusioned teens, high suicide rates, and high
levels of addiction. Like most towns, groups of teens were hanging around the streets, with a lack of
activities they can afford, so many dangerous temptations, and so many feeling alone in the crowd…

First steps

In 2006 the group worked with Operation Mobilisation to host a group of teens from
Cornerstone Christian Church in New Jersey to create a summer youth drop in centre named “The Rock”
in Kilkenny, in St Mary’s Church of Ireland Hall. Nobody knew quite what to expect, but after two weeks
starting with no-one, the results were clear – Irish teens loved “The Rock”! The drop in centre was so
well received that Cornerstone decided to send a summer team for several years following, and from that
base a small local work was started.

Background research

A number of similar projects around the country were explored and some of the best ideas taken on
board. Further research in five secondary schools in Kilkenny showed not only what kids do, but also
what they would like to do. Over 70% indicated that they would simply like a safe place to hang out.

Bigger steps

A more regular “drop-in” developed over the next few years, run by local Kilkenny people under the
umbrella of Kilkenny Christian Centre, which registered as a Charity. During that time it has been a
delight to see teenagers mature and grow into leadership, with a teen committee taking responsibility
with much of the organising and planning. A huge boost to the work with young people was the arrival of
volunteer Tim (also from Cornerstone Church and our first full-time Youth Worker) to train and teach
young leaders and to provide drive and focus. We have been privileged to have more good leaders
since: a series of keen student leaders as interns, Youth Workers Conor and Kaddl to follow on from
Tim, followed by Jesse and Kellen. The youth drop in centre became well established running weekly in
Kilkenny, with a youth café running after school during the week. Activities provided have included ball
games, big screen Wii, table games and tuck shop, but a lot of teens come to just hang out. Events may
include movie nights, game nights, theme nights, battle of the bands, dress up, discussion nights, etc.

Building relationships

“The Rock” is not just contained within the walls of the building it is run in. Often, the teens of the Rock
will be found hanging out in town and having conversations with leaders in the local cafés. The
relationships formed between teens are the driving and sustaining force behind “The Rock.” For those
who want to dig deeper into spiritual things, Bible studies and discussion groups have been available –
but no pressure! Those professing Christian faith are encouraged to get involved with Bible study and
where possible get involved in their own churches. Summer work over the last few years reached other
parts of Ireland too, with our American friends working with local support to apply a similar model of
youth drop-ins in other parts of the South East.

Rock relaunch

“The Rock” has been kindly hosted in a school and in the Methodist Church, but until recently has not had a permanent home. After a short break, now The Rock is at a new stage, to some degree re-inventing itself in its own premises (relaunching Spring 2019). The basic concept holds true, a youth ministry in the heart of Kilkenny where teens can come to hang out in a safe place, build relationships with other teens and adult volunteers, and find acceptance, belonging, hope, and support. It is exciting to have James and Rachel Krechnyak as our first ever employees, appointed to develop the Centre and nurture the development of The Rock. We look forward to the Lord leading us in the next chapter of The Rock Story…