Youngest delegate gets permission to skip school

Technically, Ryan Bostdorf is skipping school.

He’s doing so with permission from his parents and teachers, however, because he’s getting an education he simply couldn’t get in class.

At 14, Bostdorf is the youngest delegate elected to attend the top legislative assembly of the United Methodist Church. He is one of nearly 1,000 people from around the world elected to the 2004 General Conference.

“I thought by me coming to General Conference it’s saying that youth want to be involved, and want to be able to make decisions, and not just sit back and let the adults make everything,” said Bostdorf, who is a member of Halifax (Pa.) United Methodist Church, where his father serves as the associate youth pastor and his mother is choir director.

The delegate from Central Pennsylvania Annual (regional) Conference is spending long hours in committee meetings, wrestling with the wording of proposals and petitions that will help shape the future of the 10 million-member denomination. From homosexuality to global missions, he’s tackling some of the toughest issues facing the world wide church.

“I love sitting there and thinking that I have power to do things for my church,” Bostdorf said. “I love how everyone from around the world can come together and just be one body and unite and make the great decisions that they’re going to.”

Although he’s missing his ninth-grade classes, Bostdorf said he still has plenty of homework. After the late-night committee meetings, he starts in on his school studies. He’s also required to write a report about his experience at General Conference.

While this is no vacation, he said he’s glad to be serving his church in this way. When his duties as a delegate feel overwhelming, he relies on faith and prayer to God.

“I know that he’s always around me and if I do have trouble, I can just talk to him,” he said.  “I’m talking to him a lot because it is very overwhelming, but I’m getting through it.”

*Riemland is a correspondent and freelance producer for United Methodist News Service

News media contact: (412) 325-6080 during General Conference, April 27-May 7. after May 10: (615) 742-5470.

Sign up for our newsletter!

umnews-subscriptions
General Church
The Rev. William B. Lawrence.  Photo by H. Jackson/Southern Methodist University.

Possible steps after General Conference delay

A global pandemic has postponed General Conference, but the former Judicial Council president argues there is still work that cannot wait a year.
General Conference
Clergy members bless the elements of Holy Communion during the 2016 United Methodist General Conference in Portland, Ore. The Commission on the General Conference met March 21 to discuss next steps after coronavirus concerns forced the postponement of this year’s legislative assembly. File photo by Paul Jeffrey, UM News.

Updated: Looking at new General Conference dates

General Conference organizers met in closed session to explore when they could reschedule the lawmaking assembly after the coronavirus-compelled delay.
Global Health
The Minneapolis Convention Center — scheduled to host the 2020 General Conference — announced it is now canceling gatherings of 50 or more people through May 10. The decision comes as General Conference organizers already were considering postponement. Photo by Dan Anderson, courtesy of Meet Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Church leaders postpone 2020 General Conference

With the venue that was scheduled to host is canceling large events through May 10, General Conference organizers decided they have no choice but to find new dates.