The 2012 General Conference on the morning of May 3 overwhelmingly supported a measure to direct United Methodist boards and agencies, annual conferences and local church groups to consider the school schedules of young people. The vote was 682-251. The measure is nondisciplinary, so it’s nonbinding.
That vote followed the earlier defeat of an amendment aimed at strengthening the measure’s language.
Global Young People’s Convocation and Legislative Assembly, which met in Berlin in 2010, submitted the petition, 20437, to General Conference.
Delegates heard this morning from young people who struggle to balance their school obligations with the invitation to make their voice heard in church decision-making.
Emily Allen, a delegate from the California-Nevada Annual (regional) Conference, in proposing the rejected amendment read a statement from Doug Palmer, a 16-year-old in the Rocky Mountain Conference.
“I serve as president for the conference Council on Youth Ministries,” Palmer’s statement said. “This year I also served as an ex-officio member on our conference Board of Discipleship; however, I didn’t get to actually serve. The board didn’t talk with me about when the meetings would be, and when I contacted them about the issue. They told me that all of their meetings were to be held in the middle of the school day. Because I was unable to attend any of their meetings, the board went an entire year without any youth voice.”
Kae E. Tritle, a delegate from the Iowa Conference and a registered nurse, speaking against Allen’s amendment pointed out that lay members also have a difficult time getting the time off necessary to attend church meetings.
She said that she took vacation time to attend two weeks of General Conference, and she had been working with her supervisor since November to get that time off.
Some delegates worried that the measure did not take into consideration the global nature of The United Methodist Church and the varying school schedules around the world.
“This was done with the global church in mind, knowing that most of us in here want to hear and see the representation of young people around the globe,” said the Rev. Seth McPherson, a young clergy member of the Western Pennsylvania Conference. He was speaking in favor of the unamended version of the measure.
He added that just because the church has “token” representation, “all things will not be all right.
“We will not save The United Methodist Church as young people, just as you will not save The United Methodist Church,” he said. “God’s kingdom, the Spirit coming among us now, that is what will save us.”
Note: Corrected to fix a typo noted in the comments below.