I was talking about the Bishop's Address in the last blog. After hearing about the 4 areas of focus, we heard from the Young People.
I've actually written a little bit about this on another blog, in response to someone's observation that there was no representation by any young adult from the SouthEastern Jurisdiction.
Here's what I said:
I am here in Fort Worth for the duration of the General Conference, and I'd like to address a couple of the topics raised by people. Just so you know, I am 36, so just out of what is technically considered "young adult", though still considered by my AC "young clergy".
First, the applause at the end did not have a patronizing feel in the arena--there were lots of tears running down the folks of a lot of people, including some of our delegates. To be in the room when something like that happened was incredible and to have that presentation happen on the heels of the Bishop's address (which was also spectacular) was a real way of saying that they hit a home run. When we broke for lunch there was energy and passion running through the crowd and lots of conversation about it everywhere I went. Their address has continued to be a part of many of the conversations that I have heard taking place in committee meetings as well.
Second, I'm usually a bear on representation, but I think that it didn't have much affect on me (I'm from the South Central) simply because with the exception of Kira and possibly Jason (who spoke about being from the reddest of red states), they didn't speak about their young adult status in geographical terms. They spoke about it in relational terms, which is I think much more characteristic of this age group. It's been said before in this blog that young adults are a much more mobile population (for example, Texas in the South Central Jurisdiction is my home, but I went to college in the Western Jurisdition and seminary in the South Eastern Jurisdiction). I would be interested to know if any of them have spent significant time in any of the other jurisdictions. I guess the point I'm trying to make is that I didn't get the feeling that any of them were particularly trying to represent their jurisdiction. I think they were far more concentrating on representing their age group in relationship to all the other age groups, which may have been enough for this time. Though clearly not, since it bothered some.
Third--I too noticed the lack of college/campus ministry. I would be interested to know if any of them participated in campus ministry of the United Methodist variety. Campus ministry has become so underfunded that I think it's very possible that the university or college (if they went) they attended did not have a Wesley ministry attached. What does it mean that the most compelling stories these six could tell were not about our presence on campuses?
Fourth--back to the question of what they were actually saying. I think what I took away from it was that young adults didn't need the patronization of older adults, either lay or clergy. That they have hope and energy now. And that they aren't giving up on the United Methodist church, despite what some people have read and interpreted the stats to say. They were saying, "We don't just deserved to be trained to sit at the table someday. We deserve to be at the table now because everything you're talking about--hope and passion and energy and creativity--we have it now in spades. What we do need is your prayers and your support and a place to give our voices. We will not be you. We will be ourselves. And everyone needs to get okay with that pretty quick 'cause we aren't going anywhere."
I hope that you'll go online and listen to the Young Person's Address. Remember--that address is www.gc2008.umc.org.