There have been some exciting steps our Church has taken recently towards fuller inclusion of youth and young adults in the decision making bodies of our ministries. Many of our congregations elect their voting members to Synod Assembly and their new Congregational Council members in the winter and so I wanted to be sure you had this information before those things took place.
First, in May of 2008 our SEPA Synod Assembly voted overwhelmingly to pass the following resolution (shown here in part)
WHEREAS the Southeastern PA Synod Assembly has historically had a very low number of voting members who were under the age of 25; and
WHEREAS young people are not just future leaders of our church, but present leaders; and
WHEREAS participation in the Synod Assembly may affirm the gifts of our youth and motivate young people to be a more active part of the church’s mission;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that in addition to the voting members to Synod Assemblies established by the constitutional provisions, each congregation may send as one additional voting member a confirmed youth/young adult up to the age of 25 who is a voting member of their congregation;
So as your congregation elects or appoints members to serve at Synod Assembly 2010, please remember that you may send a youth or young adult in addition to the voting members already set for your congregation. At the 2009 Synod Assembly we had 53 youth/young adult voting members (compared to less than ten the year before!) and we’re hoping that even more congregations take advantage of this opportunity for 2010.
The second item is a very exciting decision made by the 2009 Churchwide Assembly that affects the Churchwide and Synod constitutions directly and provides strong language for congregations to use in their constitutions that encourage youth and young adult leadership. The recommended change to congregational constitutions is as follows –
To amend: C12.01. The voting membership of the Congregation Council shall consist of the pastor(s)[, the officers of the congregation,] and [___ members] [not more than ___ nor fewer than ___ members] of the congregation, at least one of whom shall be a youth and at least one of whom shall be a young adult. Any voting member . . . [the rest unchanged].
I encourage you to share these two items with your congregational council and to discuss how your community of faith will live into them in the next year. If you already have young people in such leadership positions that’s excellent – how can you teach congregations near by to embrace such leadership? If you do not have young people in such leadership positions, please have the conversation with your leaders about how you would raise up these young people to serve with you.
It is my hope that the Southeastern PA Synod and its congregations can be the example for the rest of the ELCA in living out these important changes in our culture of leadership.
I offer myself as a resource to each of you. If I can be of help in having a conversation with your council or congregation, I am happy to come and speak with your leaders and help imagine a plan to put the wheels in motion. Please do not hesitate to contact me!
Molly Beck Dean, Assistant to the Bishop – Youth Ministry Specialist, firstname.lastname@example.org, 267.323.3762