Young adults express frustration, hurt over exclusion at gathering

TAMPA, Fla. — The Rev. Stephanie Gottschalk had a message for General Conference delegates: I love you, but I feel betrayed.

Gottschalk, 31, is a first-time delegate from the Western Pennsylvania Annual (regional) Conference to the 2012 General Conference. She said she came to the top lawmaking gathering to “hear other voices and share my own … to be in holy conferencing and grow together through that.”

Although inspired by the dreams and visions for the future of The United Methodist Church that were shared throughout the conference, she said the gathering “opened my eyes to a painful reality — the pain of coming to the table with a heart open to listening and finding closed-door meetings, manipulation of the process and systematic prejudice against those of color and those of gender and those of different ages, whether young or old.”

Throughout the 11-day assembly April 24-May 4, young adult delegates urged greater inclusion of young people in the decision-making of the church. Many expressed feeling their voices were ignored.

Just before Gottschalk spoke, delegates rejected a motion to increase the number of youth and young adults represented on the denomination’s general agencies and boards in the new church structure delegates approved May 2 called Plan UMC.

During Gottschalk’s moment of privilege before the body, young adult delegates and guests lined the perimeter of the bar in silent protest.

Sign up for our newsletter!

umnews-subscriptions
General Conference
With coronavirus cases on the rise across the U.S. and public gatherings still limited for the foreseeable future, United Methodists are urging 2021 General Conference organizers to plan for an online conference. Laptop image by Kathryn Price, United Methodist Communications; view of the stage at the 2019 special session of General Conference by Kathleen Barry; graphic by Laurens Glass, UM News.

Should General Conference go virtual?

With COVID-19 still on the rise, a number of United Methodists are pushing for next year’s meeting to transpire online.
Church Growth
The Rev. Lovett H. Weems Jr. Photo courtesy of Wesley Theological Seminary.

Young elder numbers near historic low

United Methodist clergy age study shows modest growth period has been followed by drops in the number of both men and women elders under age 35.
General Conference
The North Texas Conference voted at its Sept. 19 annual meeting to submit legislation to General Conference 2021 that would begin the process of changing the church’s Cross and Flame insignia. Logo courtesy of United Methodist Communications.

Conference backs replacing Cross and Flame

North Texas Conference joins pastor in saying the insignia of The United Methodist Church is, inadvertently, racially insensitive.