Oct. 6, 2004
By Linda Green*
Tenn. (UMNS)-A standing ovation and applause ushered in the
denomination’s entity that will be central place for youth, young adults
and workers with young adult ministries to find direction for their
new Division on Ministries with Young People held its first meeting
Sept. 29-Oct. 2 to begin giving youth and young people a greater voice
in the United Methodist Church.
division aims to "empower young people as world-changing disciples of
Christ," to nurture faith development, and to equip young people "so
that they will be in the mix," said the Rev. Lillian Smith, who begins
leadership of the division Oct. 18.
heart of the division is the "desire to transform young people’s lives
and empower them to be a living gospel, agents of change and
transformation in their families, their communities and their world,"
youth and young people representing countries where the church is in
ministry began their time together with opening worship during the fall
meeting of the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. The division is
part of the discipleship agency.
36 youth and young adults in attendance came together and "united in
Christ to serve God in so many ways," said Geronima Dumagos of Baugio
creation of the division is important to the church, Smith said,
"because in many instances, young people are not present, and if they
are not present, their gifts are not being used, their leadership is
absent. Young and old alike should praise the name of the Lord, and we
have to ensure that the young are there also."
who has been involved in youth and young adult ministry for years, said
people in those categories are absent from the church because of
perceptions that the ministry is not relevant to them. In addition, they
have not had opportunities to be in ministry, she said. "They have been
told, ‘you can do it later, when you get older.’"
The division, she
said, represents a holistic, denominational approach to ministry based
on an intergenerational partnership of youth, young adults and adult
workers with young people.
The Rev. Lillian Smith
prayer for the work of this division is that it will help
congregations, campus ministries and other ministries intentionally
engage young people in ministry, so that we can not only make disciples
for Jesus Christ but equip them to build up the body of Christ," she
church’s 2004 General Conference approved the creation of the Division
on Ministries with Young People on May 1, in a 780-109 vote with 11
abstentions. The budget of $6.6 million, which included $1.8 million
from off the budget, was approved by a vote of 749-140, with seven
abstentions. A proposal from the General Council on Finance and
Administration reduced the budget to $1.6 million, with $4.73 million
coming through other channels.
the creation of the division, the United Methodist Youth Organization
and the Forum for Adult Workers in Youth Ministry will disband,
effective Dec. 31. The Shared Mission Focus on Young People, a
churchwide initiative since 1996, is being folded into the new division.
for creating the division cited research showing that while the general
church offers many opportunities for youth and young adults, those
ministries remain disconnected, and often the message does not reach the
local church. The division creates a central place for youth, young
adults and workers with young adult ministries to find direction for
is that central place for youth ministry that interested Malte Wolman
of Stuttgart, Germany. "I’m here for the opportunity to gather with
people from across the world and from the United Methodist Church in
America to talk about what is youth work over the world."
wants to learn about the similarities and differences in youth work in
America and in Europe. "We have to learn from one another and be
openhearted for the mission of Christ," Wolman said. "We are doing the
same job all over the world, and we can learn from one another."
new division comprises 59 members, ages 12 to 30. The Rev. Karen
Greenwaldt, top executive of the Board of Discipleship, expressed
sadness that several young people from the denomination’s central
conferences-regional units in Europe, Africa and Asia- could not attend
the division’s first meeting due to an inability to obtain visas for
travel to the United States.
Seven of the 12
already-named division members from central conferences did not attend.
Five additional representatives from central conferences have yet to be
selected. Nevertheless, the division had representation from Germany,
the Congo, and the Philippines.
it first order of business, the division elected Vanessa Trejo of San
Antonio and Dawson Taylor of Richardson, Texas, as co-chairpersons and
approved four tables of ministry: advocacy, leadership and resource
development, communications/marketing, and faith formation.
division’s members spent considerable time outlining issues of
importance. Those concerns centered on the needs of youth and young
people in their communities-what they face in school and what they want
from the church. "The issues of young people are the issues of every
church member," Taylor said.
division is an exciting adventure that was created to ensure that, as a
church, we really care for young people," Taylor said. "It is a
cohesive group that will minister to young people inside and outside of
co-chairperson, Taylor said his vision is for the division "not to
become a bureaucratic nightmare." He wants it to empower the local
church to reach young people effectively. Doing so is "vital for the
future of the church," he said.
and young adults are not only the leaders of tomorrow’s church. We are
the leader’s of today’s church as well, so we have to make sure that we
are empowering and training that leadership," he said.
Lynch, Goose Creek, S.C., wants to increase interaction with people
from across the globe. "If you don’t interact with others, you cannot
through a sign language interpreter, Stephon Williams of Baltimore,
came to the division as a representative of the deaf community in the
United Methodist Church. He called the division exciting and unique
because "it is one of the first opportunities for a deaf young adult to
participate." He wants to give the division a new perspective about deaf
youth and young adults, sign language and the deaf culture.
is important for me to be involved in the United Methodist Church and
in this division for my own personal spiritual growth, and to help other
deaf people grow spiritually also."
*Green is a news writer for United Methodist News Service.
News media contact: Linda Green, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com .