Young United Methodists adopt petitions for General Conference

Young United Methodists adopt petitions for General Conference

Young people from 34 countries gathered in the Philippines last month for the Global Young People’s Convocation & Legislative Assembly to discuss their concerns for the denomination and the world.

MANILA, Philippines — Despite enduring a devastating typhoon, United Methodist young people and adult leaders from 34 countries adopted petitions for presentation to the 2016 General Conference, the denomination’s highest policy-setting body. Among other subjects, the petitions expressed concern about socially responsible investing, the environment and prohibiting exclusion of members based on sexual orientation.

Global Young People’s Convocation & Legislative Assembly logo 2014

The young people also overwhelmingly approved a “Statement of Unity” against efforts to divide the denomination.

The Global Young People’s Convocation & Legislative Assembly (GYPCLA), organized by Young People’s Ministries division of the General Board of Discipleship (GBOD), arrived July 16 as Typhoon Rammasun hit the Philippines, damaging many areas, including the group’s meeting site, which forced a move to another location.

Michael Ratliff, GBOD associate general secretary who heads Young People’s Ministries (YPM), said GYPCLA is an opportunity for young people to share their concerns for the denomination and the world. He said those concerns can be considered by General Conference without going through the filters of other groups or organizations.

“Despite the typhoon that damaged the retreat center where the gathering was to be held,” Ratliff said, “we were able to move forward and accomplish the goals of the global convocation and legislative assembly in a new location.”

5 petitions adopted

The assembly discussed legislation submitted by young people for consideration. Five petitions were adopted that will be sent to General Conference.

The adopted petitions:

  • Aligning Investments with Social Principles,” for The Book of Resolutions, would support divestment of The United Methodist Church from Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola due to their contracts with Israel that go toward supporting efforts in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • Beyond Resolutions to Environmental Action” asks all levels of the denomination to conduct an environmental study.
  • Specific Mention to Prohibit the Exclusion of Membership Based on Sexual Orientation” seeks to change the list for inclusiveness in the denomination in Article 4 of The Book of Discipline, to add the words “gender or sexual orientation.”
  • Leave Room for Young People” asks that annual conferences ensure representation across all age groups, by whenever possible, electing one of every three lay delegates as a youth or a young adult.
  • “Consideration of the Schedules of Young People Petition” asks annual conferences to consider the schedules of young people when setting its meeting times for boards and committees.

Unity statement

In the final assembly session, GYPCLA delegates overwhelmingly approved a “Statement of Unity” that says no one controversy, such as homosexuality, should divide the denomination.

We urge everyone to seek solutions that promote our global unity as The United Methodist Church of Jesus Christ.

“We urge everyone to seek solutions that promote our global unity as The United Methodist Church of Jesus Christ, rather than focus only on the issues that divide us, so that we may faithfully live out our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world,” the statement says.

Also attending the gathering as non-voting delegates were 42 young people commissioned by the General Board of Global Ministries as Generation Transformation Global Mission Fellows. The fellows, aged 20-30, represented 11 countries and will spend two years serving in mission and social-justice ministries at international and domestic sites.

“We were able to participate in their commissioning service and got to know them a little bit while we were there,” said Chris Wilterdink, director of Young People’s Ministries. “And, they got to interact with some of the delegates and other participants from GYPCLA.”

Typhoon aftermath

Due to the typhoon, major changes had to be made quickly so the gathering could proceed.

In a matter of hours, with the help of the local staff in the Philippines, the entire conference and its participants were moved to a new location 26 miles away. The lost time resulted in a condensed and rearranged schedule, according to Wilterdink, but no planned workshops, leadership training and legislative sessions were omitted.

On Sunday, the attendees divided into seven groups and worshiped at Manila-area Methodist churches.

The participants also helped the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) assemble 600 packets of locally purchased food that were distributed by the National Council of Churches in the Philippines to a community damaged by the typhoon.

Editor’s note: The mission of the General Board of Discipleship is to support annual conference and local church leaders for their task of equipping world-changing disciples.

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