Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Youth make themselves heard!
The President of the House of Deputies, Bonnie Anderson, gave us some sobering statistics about the membership of our house. Some of interest were that about 80% of the deputies in the House were age 65 or more. Less than 3% were under the age of 35. Even less than that -- 2% -- were less than age 25. That is not a good indication of how involved youth and young adults are in the legislative process of our church.
But that 2% are doing all that they can and people are paying attention!
Last General Convention, Mr. Ian Hallas was the first youth elected Alternate Deputy for the Diocese of Chicago. This time, he is the second youngest full Deputy at Convention. The youngest deputy is a friend of mine, Olivia Adams, in the Diocese of Western Michigan (also in Province V). Ian and Olivia are fine examples of the kind of energy, intelligence, and passion that our church needs to move forward and keep the Episcopal Church relevant both now and into the future.
In addition to youth deputies sprinkled throughout the House, the Official Youth Presence (made up of two young adults from each Province) is also on the floor of Convention. While they have seat and voice, they do not yet have vote in the House. Resolution D066 hopes to change that. If passed in both Houses (in two consecutive General Conventions), it will grant the Youth Presence vote.
Other resolutions regarding young people in the church are:
B003: Camping Ministries
This resolution would direct the Youth Formation Area of the Evangelism and Congregational Life Center to help dioceses to develop currciulum, training, and resources for camp programs. Chicago has been fortunate to have a wonderful Summer Camp program in place for many years.
D064: Youth Meeting in Europe
This resolution includes many young adults actions including recommending 30 young adults make a pilgrimage to Geneva Switzerland to engage with organizations like the World Council of Churches and the World Health Organization in implementing the Millenium Development Goals. All activities are designed to help build leadership skills and a deepening of faith through engagements in the work of the Church.
D065: Youth Seat, Voice, and Vote on Vestry
This resolution directs that each congregation create at least one youth seat on their Vestry or Bishop's Committee. This seat(s) would include voice and vote for a one year term for a youth between the ages of sixteen and eighteen. Here in the Diocese of Chicago, we wrote and passed a similar resolution and have authorized youth on Vestry for over five years now.
At Monday's morning legislative session, Mr. Zach Brown and Ms. Carolyn Chu addressed the House of Deputies with empassioned speeached on the vitality and importance of youth and young adult participation in the life of the Church. One quote I particularly liked was "It's our job to show you our interest; it's your job to give us the opportunity."
Young people have been showing their love and dedication to the Episcopal Church during this Convention. The other 80% of the House is taking notice. This is a good thing! Let's work to empower more youth to get engaged in mission and involved in the life of our church -- at the parish, diocesan, and national levels!