|Legislation reflects range of young people?s concerns|
Theon Johnson III (left), Bishop Warner Brown
(center) and Violet Mango take time out to talk between legislative
sessions. A UMNS photo by Kathy L. Gilbert.
By Kathy L. Gilbert*
Jan. 11, 2007 | JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (UMNS)
Young people from around the world worked on legislation ranging from
social issues to representation in The United Methodist Church during a
first ever global event held Dec. 28-Jan. 1.
"We got a lot accomplished for the voice of young people because a
lot of good legislation came from this gathering," said Katie Zilm, a
delegate from Song of Life United Methodist Church, Mesa, Ariz.
The Global Young People's Convocation and Legislative Assembly was
sponsored by the Division on Ministries with Young People, United
Methodist Board of Discipleship. The denomination's Book of Discipline
states that a global convocation of young people will meet every four
years "for the purpose of celebrating the mission and vitality of young
people in the United Methodist Church."
Voting delegates from the five jurisdictions of the United States and
from the seven central conferences in Africa, Asia and Europe
considered 44 pieces of legislation to send to the 2008 United Methodist
General Conference, which meets April 23-May 2, Fort Worth, Texas.
General Conference, the denomination's top legislative assembly,
approved the creation of the Division on Ministries with Young People at
its last meeting, in 2004.
The legislation approved in Johannesburg was translated into French
and Portuguese, and in order to pass, had to receive a two-thirds
The two-thirds majority was important to Devin Mauney, a member of Christ Church United Methodist, Tucson, Ariz.
Devin Mauney makes a point about legislation during the Global Young People's Convocation and
A UMNS photo by Kathy L. Gilbert.
"We wanted to accurately represent the voice of young people at this
convocation," he said. He noted there were two main streams of
legislation: young people's representation in the church and statements
on social issues.
Mauney serves on the United Methodist Commission on Communication.
Having strong young people's voices in the church's board and agencies
is important, he said. "I also appreciated the flexibility of the
legislation that said whenever possible we would like consideration for
"On the other side we had a lot of statements on social issues," he
said. "We had one on war and peace that was very important. Young people
came out with a very strong voice on issues of homosexual involvement
in the church - what rights and privileges they have."
The youth passed legislation to ensure no person will be denied
membership or ordination in The United Methodist Church "because of
their differences." The denomination's Book of Discipline forbids the ordination of self-avowed practicing homosexuals.
"The legislative process was full of youth and young adults and very
few 'mature' adults," said Nicki Spencer, a member of Theressa Hoover
United Methodist Church, Little Rock, Ark. "That was good."
Aarendy Gomez, a member of San Juan Mission Metodista Unida, Clanton,
Ala., agreed. "It was us that did all the legislation instead of the
Call for peace
The young people wrote a statement of concern on the human rights
situation in the Philippines, with the help of delegates from that
In part, the statement says: "Human rights are in danger in the
Philippines. The image of God in every person is being assaulted in many
ways, including God's servants - bishops, pastors, deaconesses and
women, men and youth lay leaders. These prophet servants of God have
preached, with costly discipleship, the good news to the poor, deprived
and marginalized peoples of the Philippines."
Rebecca Nolte responds to a
question during a legislative
session of the convocation.
A UMNS photo by Kathy L. Gilbert.
The statement calls for United Methodist young people to pray for the
Philippines and to work with the United Methodist Youth and Young Adult
Fellowship in the country.
In another statement on war and peace, the young people said: "We are
those sent to the front lines of every war, by every nation and
organization which chooses to engage in war." The statement goes on to
say young people are "most affected by the insidiousness of war" while
having the least voice in decision making.
The statement affirms The United Methodist Church's stance on war and
peace as stated in the Social Principles, Paragraph 165, VI, Section C.
"We are the young people of The United Methodist Church. We affirm
God's clear call to be instruments of peace in all corners of the
world," the convocation said.
'Where we are headed'
In other action, the legislative assembly wrote a statement of
concern for poverty around the world; affirmed the church's campaign to
address malaria, "Nothing but Nets"; and called for $100,000 from
apportioned funds to be allocated to the United Methodist Global AIDS
Additional legislation dealt with having youth and young adult
representation in the local church, annual conferences, jurisdictional
and central conferences, the Judicial Council and General Conference.
"We had an opportunity to sit down and talk with people with whom we
disagree," said Brian Schlemmer, Tempe (Ariz.) First United Methodist
Church. "While we passed a lot of legislation that will be turned down, I
hope General Conference looks at this and sees where the future of
church leadership is. I hope we can start looking at ways right now
where we can reconcile where we are and where we are headed as a
*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.
A visual journey through the Global Young People's Convocation
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Devin Mauney: "Great to take such a strong stance."
Bryan Plummer: "Having opportunity to sit down together."
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Global Young People's Convocation
Division on Ministries with Young People