UMC to Consider Central Youth Group

( [email protected] ) Feb 06, 2004 02:25 PM EST

Four panelists representing the youth of the United Methodist Church, drafted the preliminary legislation to create a new Division on Ministries with Young People, Jan. 29-31, in Pittsburgh.

The new division will complement the Shared Mission Focus on Young People initiative of the UMC that was created 8 years ago.

Since 2001, SMF leaders have gathered their dreams on their Web site:

"I dream a church that would look upon everyone and see only what God sees. I dream a church where young people across the global village are celebrated as partners in service for Christ. I dream a church where young adults are welcome not just in speech but in action. I dream a church where young people's call to ministry is recognized and encouraged without taking into account their age,” the website quotes.

Two young people, John and Charles Wesley, dreamed a church into being, said Jay Williams, co-leader of the Shared Mission Focus on Young People. "It was at the ages of 22 and 26 that our church's founders stood to witness a change that God was making through them and the church.

"We too are dreamers."

Williams was one of the four panelists discussing the legislation to create the new division. The event, sponsored by United Methodist Communications, was in preparation for the denomination's top legislative body, meeting April 27-May 7.

Other panelists included Julie O'Neal, co-leader of the Shared Mission Focus on Young People, Analisa Trejo, president of the United Methodist Youth Organization, and Ciona Rouse, director of the Shared Mission Focus on Young People.

"What we bring to you today is a response to that charge," said O’Neal. "What we envision is a denominational strategy, a body of the general agencies, whose purpose is to empower young people as world-changing disciples of Jesus Christ."

According to Williams two organizations – the UMC Youth Organization and the Forum for Adult Workers in Youth Ministry – will pledge themselves under the new division if it is approved.

"The division will serve as a central place for youth, young adults and workers with young adult ministries to find direction for their ministries," she said.

O'Neal asked, "Do you know a young person who was active in youth but disappeared after they graduated from high school? If this is familiar to you, know that your church is not alone."

The division will work to reach those young adults, ages 18 to 30, who often feel disconnected from the church in that phase of their lives. The church does a good job of reaching out to college students through Wesley foundations and campus ministers and chaplains, but what is there for those who choose a different path? O'Neal asked.

"The division will make a clear statement that the denomination is committed to ministries with young people," said Trejo. "Through the division, the church will recognize young people's desire to be in leadership."