General Conference approves Division on Ministries with Young People

Thousands of dreams came true May 1 when the 2004 General Conference voted overwhelmingly to approve a Division on Ministries with Young People.

"This proposal has been met with enthusiasm and cooperation across the church," said Arthur Jones, delegate from North Texas, as he presented the petition to the conference.

"This is exactly what the church needs."

The conference voted 780 to approve the division; 109 opposed the division and there were 11 abstentions. The budget of $6.6 million, which included $1.8 million off the budget, was approved by a vote of 749 for, 140 against and 7 abstentions.

"This is an historic moment," said Jeffrey Greenway, Western Pennsylvania delegate and chair of the legislative committee on discipleship. "The young people have shown us a model where the old things pass away and new things come into being."

The Shared Mission Focus on Young People, an initiative of the United Methodist Church since 1996, brought legislation to create a Division on Ministries with Young People. The division will be at the United Methodist Board of Discipleship in Nashville, Tenn.

Since 2001, the Shared Mission Focus leaders have been gathering dreams on their Web site, www.idreamachurch.com:

  • "I dream a church that would look upon everyone and see only what God sees."
  • "I dream a church where young people across the global village are celebrated as partners in service for Christ."
  • "I dream a church where young adults are welcome not just in speech but in action."
  • "I dream a church where young people’s call to ministry is recognized and encouraged without taking into account their age."

As part of the proposal, the United Methodist Youth Organization and the Forum for Adult Workers in Youth Ministry will disband. The Shared Mission Focus on Young People will be folded into the new division.

In preparing the petition, the team’s research showed that while the general church offers many opportunities for youth and young adults, those ministries remain disconnected, and often the message does not reach the local church. The division will create a central place for youth, young adults and workers with young adult ministries to find direction for their ministries.

Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer.

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