The value of the voices of youth and young adults was affirmed when the 2004 General Conference voted overwhelmingly to add an address by a young person to the agenda for the 2008 General Conference.
“There has been an incredible celebration of youth and young adults as we continue to dream a church,” said Jay Williams, young adult delegate from Western New York, as he proposed adding the address to the next conference.
Youth and young adults have served as vice chairs of legislative committees, chairs of subcommittees and have spoken out many times on the floor throughout the 2004 General Conference.
“There has really been a strong outpouring of love and support for young people. We have been encouraged to continue to be witnesses, to continue to dream and hope,” Williams said.
“For a young person to make an address to the 2008 General Conference shows the entire church that young people can be in leadership and have a voice,” said Julie O’Neal, Scottsdale, Ariz. Along with Williams, she co-chaired the Shared Mission Focus on Young People. “We have some good things for the denomination to hear.”
The denomination’s top legislative assembly, which meets every four years, will gather in Fort Worth, Texas, in 2008.
The approval of the Division on Ministries with Young People came May 1. The new division creates a central place for youth, young adults and workers with young adult ministries to find support and direction for their ministries. The division will be housed in the Board of Discipleship.
“The passing of the legislation to create the Division on Ministries with Young People gives hope to those working in these areas and sends a message that the church is ready to make it a priority to make disciples of young people,” O’Neal said.
Williams said the church is definitely moving in the right direction.
“I feel good about it.”
*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer.
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