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Young people’s unit sees leadership change, approves grants

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A UMNS photo by Kathy L. Gilbert

Violet Mango is co-chairperson of the Division on Ministries with Young People.
Aug. 8, 2006

By Kathy L. Gilbert*

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) ? “I feel like I am in the Lord,” William Tolentino told a gathering of youth and young adults from a pulpit in the United Methodist Upper Room.

“Until today, the Upper Room has just been a dream; I have only seen photographs of this place,” he said. “Being inside this room feels like I am inside the Lord.”

Tolentino and Mighty Rasing, youth from the Philippines, were overjoyed to be at the annual meeting of the United Methodist Board of Discipleship’s Division on Ministries with Young People. Since the division was formed in 2004, this is the first time youth from the Philippines have succeeded in getting visas to visit the United States.

Tolentino, president of the United Methodist Young Adult Fellowship, and Rasing, president of the United Methodist Youth Fellowship in the Philippines, led the opening worship service for the division, which met Aug. 3-6 in Nashville.

Their presence energized a meeting that was highlighted by discussions about leadership changes, grants for ministry projects and plans for upcoming youth gatherings.

Fifty-nine youth, young adults, and adult workers with young people from around the world serve on the Division on Ministries with Young People. The 2004 General Conference approved the formation of the division to connect young people and those in ministries with young people to each other and the church.

The division models a global community with 17 representatives from 11 countries other than the United States.

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A UMNS photo by Kathy L. Gilbert

"You are leaders of leaders, and we need all your voices," newly elected co-chairperson Theon Johnson III says.

At the meeting, the Rev. Lillian Smith, the first top executive for the division, announced she will leave to take the position of Eastern Pennsylvania Conference director of connectional ministries, beginning Sept. 1.

“I was honored to help launch the Division on Ministries with Young People. The foundation has now been laid; it was a joy to see this dream become a reality. I look forward to seeing what God does in the future,” Smith said.

The Rev. Dawson Taylor, one of the first co-chairpersons of the division, also announced his resignation. Taylor, a recent graduate of Perkins School of Theology, has taken a position at a church in Dallas.

“Doing the work of this division takes a lot of work, and I began to feel like it was time to go and let someone else lead,” he said. Taylor was elected co-chairperson at the division’s first meeting in October 2004. Violet Mango, Zimbabwe, serves as the other co-chairperson.

“I leave knowing the people gathered here have the power to change the church and the world,” Taylor said. “They have the courage, integrity and passion, and they work tirelessly for young people and the needs of the church.”

Theon Johnson III, Canton, Miss., was elected co-chairperson. Johnson also serves on the United Methodist Student Movement’s steering committee.

“You are leaders of leaders, and we need all your voices,” Johnson said. “Thank you for this honor.”

Youth Service Fund grants

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A UMNS photo by Kathy L. Gilbert

"I feel like I am in the Lord," says William Tolentino.

During the meeting, division members voted to grant $109,000 to eight international and U.S. projects engaged in ministry with youth and young adults in 2007 from the Youth Service Fund. Money in the fund is raised by youth to support programs for and by youth.

Six international projects and seven U.S. projects were granted $100,000 from the 2007 grants for ministries with young people. Money for these grants comes from the denomination’s World Service Fund.

The gathering also granted scholarships to three students for the Richard S. Smith and David W. Self scholarships.

The scholarships are named for former staff executives of the United Methodist Board of Discipleship who were staunch supporters of the former National Youth Ministry Organization. The scholarships are awarded annually to United Methodists who are beginning their first year of undergraduate study. The Smith awards go to racial-ethnic minority students.

The grants and scholarships must be approved by the Board of Discipleship’s executive committee, which meets in October.

Assemblies planned

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A UMNS photo by Kathy L. Gilbert

The Division on Ministries with Young People models a global community with representatives from 12 countries.

Division members also heard plans for two upcoming events, the Global Young People’s Convocation and Legislative Assembly, set for Dec. 28-Jan. 1 in Johannesburg, South Africa, and Youth ’07, set for July 11-15 in Greensboro, N.C.

This is the first convocation and legislative assembly for the division. Future events will be held every four years. The convocation is open to youth, young adults and adult workers with young people for all over the United Methodist global community.

The legislative assembly delegation will comprise five youth (ages 12-18), five young adults (19-30) and two adult workers with young people from each U.S. jurisdiction, and the five central conferences outside the United States. Delegates will bring legislation, petitions and programming to the division or to the 2008 General Conference, the denomination’s lawmaking body.

The schedule and speakers have been confirmed for the event, said Kenia Guimaraes, director of central conference relations for the division. The event will be translated into English, French, Portuguese, German and Russian. The Africa University choir will provide the music along with local musicians, she said.

Costs and registration details can be found at www.globalconvo.org. A deadline of Oct. 15 was set for sending legislation to the division for consideration during the legislative assembly.

Members of the design team for Youth ’07 said the event will include four nights and five days of music, worship and praise. Information about the event can be found at www.youth2007.org.

Reports were heard from the four “tables of ministry”: advocacy, faith formation, leadership and resource development, and communication and networking. The division’s three networks — youth, young adult and adult workers with young and young people — also met to discuss future plans.

*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 newsdesk@umcom.org.

 
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