10/13/2003 News media contact: Tim Tanton · (615) 742-5470 · Nashville, Tenn.
By Carol Fouke*
Motoe Yamada. Photo number W03036, Accompanies UMNS#487
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NEW YORK (UMNS) - Katherine Parker, 25, of Ames,
Iowa, looks forward to networking with others who are organizing for
change. Grant Kinney, 21, of Alma, Mich., seeks a ministry that reflects
Parker and Kinney, both United
Methodists, are two of 10 young adults from across the United States
selected as stewards for the National Council of Churches' November 2003
General Assembly in Jackson, Miss. Their stated mission will be to
"serve in the background and observe up close the deliberative work of
The annual meeting brings together some 250
delegates from the NCC's 36 Protestant, Orthodox and Anglican member
denominations for business and fellowship, small-group discussion of
current issues, daily worship and Bible study.
"I hope that by
being a steward â€¦ I will be able to network with others, especially
young adults, who are organizing for change around faith issues," Parker
writes in her application. She says she learned the importance of
ecumenical work while serving as a mission intern at the Asian Rural
Institute in Japan on behalf of the United Methodist Board of Global
Kinney sees the ecumenical movement as critical to a
rebirth of Christianity. He explains his personal interest in ecumenical
work and in serving as an intern at the assembly. "I seek ministry that
is 'outside the box,' that seeps out the doors of the church, that
incorporates and transcends traditional church models and that reflects
ecumenical compassion," he says.
This year, delegates will elect
NCC officers for 2004-07 and install them along with the council's
president for 2004-05, Bishop Thomas L. Hoyt, leader of the Fourth
District of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in Shreveport, La.
Two of the stewards - Cyreeta Collins, 31, from Jamaica, N.Y.,
and Adrian Evans, 30, of Mobile, Ala. - are CME members. In her
application, Evans expressed her delight at Hoyt's NCC presidency and
said, "I intend to be in attendance regardless to celebrate this
achievement with him, for our church is extremely proud."
Stewards Program, new this year, is the latest addition to a wider NCC
program of support for young adult leadership in the ecumenical
movement. The activities of the NCC's longstanding Ecumenical Young
Adult Ministries Team include a biennial "Come to the Feast" conference,
which draws 300-plus participants.
The NCC Constitution
specifies that at least one in eight of each member denomination's
delegates to the assembly should be age 18 to 30. A Young Adult Caucus
was formed at last year's assembly. On Nov. 3, a pre-assembly event will
give young adults opportunity to participate in common prayer,
ecumenical learning and visioning, and dialogue with leadership of the
NCC and of Church World Service, the global humanitarian agency of the
NCC's 36 member denominations.
The stewards' work - assisting
with hospitality, registration, audio-visual needs and technology,
communications and other tasks - will be complemented by their
interactions with national church leaders and their experience of an
assembly's rich interdenominational and multicultural environment.
Jones, 25, a United Methodist from San Antonio, is so eager to be part
of an NCC General Assembly that he wrote in his application, "I would
clean toilets if it meant that I got to listen and learn from this body.
It would be an honor to be there."
Motoe Yamada, 27, a United
Methodist from Berkeley, Calif., knew nothing about Christianity during
her childhood in Tokyo. Through an ecumenical campus ministry at the
University of Toledo, she learned that Jesus loves her, and she became
baptized. "Because of my unique background, I was not aware of
denominational differences," she writes. "I believe that God made us to
work together, not to fight against each other."
While working on
hunger issues, Melissa Porter, 27, a United Methodist from Virginia
Beach, Va., recalls feeling frustrated by the division among churches.
"I am eager to learn further ways to tear down walls as we work together
not for the sake of religion but for humanity," she writes in her
The 10 stewards' expenses will be paid by special
donations from three individuals, who designated their contributions in
support of expanded opportunities for young adults to take leadership in
ecumenical endeavors, says the Rev. Patrice L. Rosner, NCC associate
general secretary for education.
Their selection, from a pool of
20 applicants, was based on a detailed application. During the assembly,
each will interview assembly participants with particular expertise -
for example, interfaith relations or education ministries - and will
write a 500-word essay on their experiences as a steward.
stewards will spend Nov. 2-7 in Jackson for a schedule that includes
orientation and debriefing, the Young Adult Pre-Assembly Event and the
Nov. 4-6 assembly itself.
In addition to the United Methodists,
the stewards hail from four other denominations - the Christian Church
(Disciples of Christ); Christian Methodist Episcopal Church; Roman
Catholic Church; and United Church of Christ.
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*Fouke is media liaison for the National Council of Churches.