One of the joys of General Convention 78 so far has been seeing so many young people here. The Official Youth Presence (above, being presented to the House of Bishops) are a body of two youth selected from each Province of The Episcopal Church. They have seat and voice (but no vote) on the floor of the House of Deputies. They live together in community for these two weeks with adult mentors and focus on spiritual formation and leadership development. This great group calls themselves the Unofficial Youth Presence. They are from the Diocese of West Missouri and a few from Kansas. I’ve run into them several times. West Missouri has sent a group with adult mentors to the past 4 or 5 General Conventions. This is genius, I think. These youth are SO excited about the work of our church. They are worshiping with thousands, hearing great preaching, hearing about different ways to engage mission, listening to debate on topics (and they can speak at hearings if they want to) and observing how our shared governance works. More dioceses should do this. I’m sure the folks in West Missouri would be glad to help.
And this is a so called committee of the House of Deputies composed of members born in the 1990’s. They were charged with bringing the traditional greetings from the House of Deputies saying the house was organized and meeting. I was delighted to see so many of them, and I’m convinced this example of service among our young adults is the direct result of investment in church wide youth ministries.
An official young adult presence is also here somewhere – I’ve heard of them but they’ve been too busy to photograph!
I tell parents and our youth minister at the congregation I serve that getting young people involved in diocesan and larger church ministry is crucial for their spiritual development. Going to camp, diocesan youth events, even General Convention helps young people discover the church beyond their home church and begin to find their place in the whole Body of Christ. In a time when many young people are abandoning or never claiming faith, it is lovely to see young people who are falling in love with God through the work of this church. This is something to celebrate and encourage.