NASHVILLE, Tenn. Sept. 26, 2018 /Discipleship Ministries/ – United Methodist youth and young adults attending the Global Young People’s Convocation (GYPC) adopted a Statement of Unity declaring their love of the church, “the unity it offers and how it welcomes all people, regardless of who they are and what they do in life.”
The unity statement was drafted by GYPC delegates during a gathering of UM youth, young adults and adult workers from all over the world in Johannesburg, South Africa, in July. GYPC is a collaborative effort among the church’s general agencies led by Young People’s Ministries (YPM), a unit of Discipleship Ministries.
“We recognize and celebrate the diversity that comes from being in a global United Methodist connection,” the statement says. “We view each person as an essential part of the body of Christ, which is the Church, and that God loves each of us far beyond what we can imagine. With that, we believe that God’s love is engrained in us and part of our identity as United Methodists.
“We stand against the spirit of hatred, judgment and discrimination which creates division instead of unity. We pray that through the Holy Spirit we can remain united as a body that continues to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
The unity statement was drafted during GYPC’s Legislative Forum, which uses a small group process that emphasizes dialogue instead of debate. The 134 voting delegates and 121 nonvoting delegates attending the convocation represented 40 different countries.
“This statement is important because it is the result of young people from around the world listening to each other and describing the kind of church they want to be,” said Michael Ratliff, Associate General Secretary at Discipleship Ministries and head of the YPM unit. “Since they are both the church today, and becoming the church of the future, those of us who are more seasoned should acknowledge their words. Their call to unity goes beyond politics to the heart of the purpose of Christ’s church.”
During the forum, delegates also voted to express their Stance on the Commission of the Way Forward.
Prior to the vote, the Rev. Julie Hager Love, a commission member and the Kentucky Conference’s director of connectional ministries, provided delegates with a brief summary of the commission’s three plans, which offer ways to move the denomination past its decades-long struggle with issues around LGBTQ. The plans will be presented to the 2019 Special Session of General Conference.
The voting results were:
- 38.46% support the Traditionalist Plan
(Strengthens the current language of the Book of Discipline concerning human sexuality for greater clarity; streamlines the process to enforce penalties for violations of the Book of Discipline related to marriage and ordination of self-avowed practicing homosexual persons, maintains the current structure of the church, continues the current relationships between the church and all general agencies and commissions)
- 60.58% support the One Church Plan
(Recognizes the diverse theological and scriptural understandings of the global church; provides generous unity for conferences, churches and pastors; removes the restrictive language from our current Book of Discipline; maintains the current structure of the denomination; does not require any annual conference, bishop, congregation or pastor to act contrary to their convictions; allows congregations and pastors greater freedom to reach new people)
- 19.23% support the Connectional Conference Plan
(Creates three values-based connectional conferences: accountability, contextualization and justice, allows for a Book of Discipline within each connectional conference, current central conferences have the choice of becoming their own connectional conference, Council of Bishops is focused on shared learning and ecumenical relationships, annual conferences choose their connectional conference, local churches who desire to join a branch that is different from their annual conference could vote to join another annual conference)
- 0.96% abstained
The percentages do not total 100 percent because delegates had the option of selecting more than one plan.
To read the entire Statement of Unity, see more details about the young people’s Stance on the Commission of the Way Forward and read an explanation of the voting process, to go https://bit.ly/2IbTHVJ.
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