Saturday, April 26, 2008

Heed Their Words. Follow Their Actions

Saul said to David, "You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him;
for you are just a boy, and he has been a warrior from his youth."

1 Samuel 17:33, NRSV

Why has it taken The United Methodist Church so long to recognize the strength of its young people and afford them a voice from the platform of General Conference? For a denomination that regularly strives to embrace diversity and express inclusion of all persons, the General Conference has never, until now, publically affirmed the prophetic voice of young people in an address to the General Conference. And while they were given center stage, most spoke from among the people gathered in the plenary hall—a powerful demonstration of their being a part of the church and deeply connected to one another and to God.

It would seem that the church and the Conference have been hesitant—if not afraid—to give such power and privilege to the young people of the church for fear they could not rise to the occasion or even embarrass the denomination. Not unlike David as he stepped forward to slay the giant, the adults of the denomination have chided its young people for lacking experience and being foolish. Even with a powerful biblical precedent set by David in his youth, the church has failed to heed the power and authority of young people to speak and to act in the name of God.

And so finally, the first-ever Young People’s Address to the General Conference was delivered, and it knocked the giant bureaucratic institution on its collective @$$. The six young people offering the Address represented the five jurisdictions of the church in the United States and one central conference, from various ethnic and racial backgrounds. Each spoke elegantly, forcefully and passionately from personal experience and prophetic vision as members of the church. The Address provided a profound example of the church of today through the eyes of young people who have their hearts tuned to the pulse of life in the 21st century. The United Methodist Church would do well to heed their words, step aside and empower them to be its leaders today. If General Conference could be conducted by these six young people, it would truly achieve holy conferencing and avoid the ills of its self-serving agendas.

The young people of The United Methodist Church are ready, willing and able to lead. Let them begin!

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