Submitted by Steve Horswill-Johnston
Executive Director, Communications Office, Discipleship Ministries
United Methodist youth, young adults and adult workers from all over the world are gathering next week in Johannesburg, South Africa, for worship, fellowship, leadership development and conversations about young people’s hopes and dreams for the church.
The Global Young People’s Convocation (GYPC), a collaborative effort among the church’s general agencies led by Young People’s Ministries (YPM), a unit of Discipleship Ministries, is expected to bring together 331 participants for the five-day event beginning July 18.
“When young people and leaders from 40 different countries come together for the convocation, they will be seeking community in the midst of a divisive time in our church and reaching beyond language and culture boundaries to experience unity that only Christ can bring,” said Michael Ratliff, Associate General Secretary at Discipleship Ministries and head of the YPM unit.
“As they discern the critical issues of young people in our church and world, the 134 voting delegates and 121 nonvoting delegates will be speaking to the centrality of the Christian Gospel and Methodist Way in shaping our denomination for the future,” Ratliff said.
GYPC’s Legislative Forum provides the opportunity for young people to propose legislation to the General Conference. Using a small group process, GYPC emphasizes dialogue instead of debate.
“GYPC is a great opportunity for young people to share their challenges, hopes and dreams for the church in their own settings,’ said Mighty Rasing, YPM’s Program Development Director for Central Conferences. “Through GYPC 2018, young people will be able to build relationships with other young people from other places and they have a chance to share and celebrate stories of faith and leadership.”
To help ensure representation of young people from all over the world, financial support for GYPC has come from throughout the connection. During the Council of Bishops meeting in May, bishops provided financial assistance, both through direct support to the delegates from their episcopal areas and by donating to the GYPC scholarship fund. Many individuals, local churches and conferences have also provided support for the scholarship fund.
To assist with the convocation, General Board of Global Ministries is sending trainers, staff and 58 Global Mission Fellow candidates as participants to GYPC. The Global Mission Fellows will be blessed in a special worship service kicking off their training.
In addition, these other general agencies are collaborating with Discipleship Ministries with various means of support, including financial, personnel and programmatic aspects of the event: General Board of Church and Society, UM Communications, United Methodist Women, General Council on Finance and Administration, Commission on the General Conference, General Commission on Archives and History, General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, General Commission on the Status and Role of Women and General Commission on Religion and Race.
Participants at GYPC will also celebrate the 50th anniversary of the United Methodist Church in a special banquet during the event.
“Although the church faces a lot of challenges right now, my hope is that through GYPC, young people could come together and be a community that prays together, discerns together and journeys together into the future,” Rasing said.
The mission of Discipleship Ministries is to support annual conference and local church leaders for their task of equipping world-changing disciples. An agency of The United Methodist Church, Discipleship Ministries is located at 1908 Grand Ave. in Nashville, Tenn. For more information, visit www.UMCdiscipleship.org, the Press Center at www.UMCdiscipleship.org/about/press-center or call the Communications Office at (877) 899-2780, Ext. 1726.