As an ecumenical mutt, this has been my first year to really follow the events happening at UMC General Conference. It has been hard to read and watch over the past week as decisions have been made (or not made), riling up voices on social media and blog sites. I’m not here to challenge any of the opinions or decisions presented, but to focus our attention on the young people represented. It was powerful to be able to stream the Young People’s Address yesterday and hear from Chelsea Spyres and Peter Cibuabua, two amazing young adults who were chosen to speak on behalf of young adult Methodists across the world.
I encourage to listen to the address yourself, click here!
The message Chelsea and Peter share is bold and powerful. They mention some touchy subject on human sexuality and funding/support of young adults in the church, but they also take a stance of love and of unity.
“Remember that we have one God, one Christ, we have one doctrine, we have one faith, we have one body, one, and one church.” -Cibuabua
“We are a church based in love.” -Spyres
General Conference-type events are never easy within any denominations that span globally, so I appreciated these words from Chelsea, reminding us of our human faults and God’s grace.
We as human beings get it wrong a lot. We think that we have it right, that we know what we are talking about until someone comes along and proves us otherwise. Or maybe God stops whispering and starts to yell. God stops waiting for us to find a quiet moment and shows up in very very apparent ways. We as the people who make up the church can also get it wrong. We can find ourselves far from sharing God’s love, only portraying our personal intentions and goals. It is in these moments that I am thankful for God’s grace and grace from my neighbor. One of the things I that hear most from young people is that their voice is not being heard, that they are not welcomed. As a denomination we can get so focused on doing things the way we have always done them that we miss out on new voices longing to be heard. We don’t take time to get to know that new person who has just walked into worship or the new demographic that has moved into the neighborhood. We make assumptions before building relationships. As a church we think because we have heard from one or two young people, we have heard from them all, but we must remember that each individual is unique, with their own story, their own background, their own ideas for the future. Whether or not we agree with someone theologically or personally, we must remember that we are first God’s children, created equally, created from and for love. How would the church grow if we began to listen before we spoke? If we learned about each other’s cultural backgrounds before inserting our expectations? What would the church look like if, before anything else, we loved, and I mean truly loved all? If first and foremost we sought to show the radical, perfect, undeserving love that Christ shows us?
As Chelsea states above, Peter and herself are just two young adults trying to share the thoughts of many others, but there are so many more voices that need to be heard! I am proud to be a part of this blog of young adults, to be able to share stories and learn from others around the world.
How can you lift up the young adults in your conference? What voices need to be heard?