Migration, child marriage among issues addressed
By Jessica Brodie
Four South Carolinians were among more than 330 United Methodist young adults and youth ministers who gathered this summer for five days of conversation, worship and fellowship at the fourth Global Young People’s Convocation.
Held July 18-22 in Johannesburg, South Africa, the four from South Carolina were Chris Lynch, congregational specialist for the South Carolina Annual Conference who works in Ministries with Young People; his daughter Lindy Lynch, a youth delegate representing her home church, Trinity UMC, Anderson; the Rev. Elizabeth Murray, youth minister at Lexington UMC; and Tyler Cattenhead, a youth delegate representing his home church, Central UMC, Florence.
Delegates from 40 countries in four regions of the world came together for the event. Organized by Young People’s Ministries, a division of United Methodist Discipleship Ministries, the leadership development event addressed issues affecting young people and unity in the church. Using a small group process, the convocation emphasizes dialogue instead of debate.
By the end of the event, the delegates developed legislation that will be submitted as petitions to the 2020 General Conference on migration, nationalism, sexism and rejection of child marriages.
Per an article for the United Methodist News Service by Zimbabwe East Annual Conference communicator Eveline Chikwanah, “Young People Address Migration, Child Marriage,” the legislation included the following:
- An amendment to Para. 162H to read, “Rights of Immigrants, Migrants, Asylum Seekers, Refugees, Undocumented Persons and Internally Displaced Persons.” This would embrace all people not living in their home countries because of different situations;
- An amendment to Para. 161C to include the statement, “We reject the practice of child marriages, in terms of arranged marriages with minors, as it violates children’s rights”; and
- A resolution, “A Declaration on Sexism,” that affirms every person is loved by God and denounces sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination. The legislation advocates for equal pay for men and women doing the same work.
Murray said attending the Global Young People’s Convocation as a young adult delegate was powerful way to see the global church in action.
“If you have not seen a global gathering of United Methodists, I encourage everyone to find an event to attend at some point,” Murray said. “Though there were many frustrating moments where you want everyone to agree or legislative sessions to move quicker, those holy moments make those eye-rolling ones worth it.”
Murray said the worship at the convocation was nothing like she had experienced.
“People laid down their agendas, pride and walls to take time to praise the One who united us all together,” Murray said. “Do you know that moment where you can really sense the Holy Spirit? The Spirit was all over GYPC, but especially during worship. For me, I love worshipping in other languages because it makes me feel the closest to God. It reminds me that we are more similar than we are different. It was truly a Pentecost moment.”
She said there was one song in particular with which she connected: “Somlandela” (Love is Calling).
“The praise band was equally black as it was white, something to be noted in post-Apartheid South Africa, and sang lyrics in Zulu, ‘Somlandela, somlandel u Jesu. Somlandela, Yonka indawo. Somlandela, somlandela u Jesu. Lapho eyakhona, somlandela,’” Murray said. “The lyrics translate to say, ‘I will follow; I will follow Jesus. I will follow wherever He goes. I will follow; follow Jesus Christ. Wherever He goes, I will follow.’ It is God who united us together as we continue to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
Chris Lynch said his experience at the convocation solidified his convictions that this generation of young people is passionate about their faith and about the UMC.
“I believe this passion was on display in Johannesburg and will be the key factor in young people helping guide the church into a future filled with promise regardless of how similar or different our denomination looks structurally,” Lynch said. “Their evident desire to follow Jesus and His teachings will serve them well whatever the future holds and that desire is an example for all to follow into the coming months and years.”
Some info from UMNS articles by Eveline Chikwanah and others from UMCSC.org.