27 July 2009

OYP Authored Legislation

Several members of the Official Youth Presence tried their hands at authoring and shepherding legislation at the 76th General Convention of The Episcopal Church in Anaheim. They had help and support from several adult advocates for youth, including deputies from all over the church attending convention, and from diocesan youth ministry coordinators who responded to a request for help on the DYMC listserve.

The piece of legislation that got the most attention was one for Official Youth Presence Vote; Resolution D066. The Committee on Structure gave the resolution a very favorable hearing. Sam Gould, Deputy from Massachusetts (GCOYP Alumnus 2006), introduced the legislation and yielded the microphone to one of the Official Youth Presence young men who co-wrote the resolution. When he completed his introduction, stating he knew that there were some constitutional and/or canonical issues that needed to be worked through, the committee chair invited questions from committee members. A wonderful exchange followed. Several other individuals spoke in favor of the resolution with one person speaking against.
For the most part the committee was in favor of finding a way to add vote to the seat and voice already granted to the Official Youth Presence. Concerns were raised about electing vs. the current method of selecting individuals to be included as members of the OYP. Others observed that currently there is very intentional diversity in the selection process that might be lost if they were to shift to an election process. Concerns over how OYP votes might impact votes by orders on the floor were also flagged as problematic.

The committee ultimately recommended that the resolution be passed with amendments and referrals so that process, canonical, and constitutional issues could be addressed in committee between this General Convention and the next. Once D066 hit debate on the floor of the House of Deputies there was fantastic support and sentiment, as well as an over-riding sense that there were too many problems with the current resolution to pass it. My understanding is that the resolution was discharged to Constitutions and Canons. It was a frustrating outcome for the young people and those who were working with them.

The other legislation that was authored by OYP members was Resolution D065, Youth Seat, Voice and Vote on Vestries. The Committee on Ministry gave this resolution a wonderful hearing as well. Several of the young women in the OYP spoke to the committee and fielded many questions about how to encourage and support more youth participation on Vestries and Bishop's Committees. The committee recommendation was to adopt the resolution, which the House of Bishops was willing to do, and then sent the resolution to the Deputies asking them to concur. As far as we know the resolution never made it on to the calendar for the House of Deputies and was not acted upon. We think it will be referred to a CCAB, but we aren't sure.

What I learned from all of this activity is that although we are making progress toward empowering more young people to take on leadership positions, including claiming seat, voice, and vote in the counsels of our church, we still have a long way to go. I am committed to supporting those who are willing to keep this movement going forward rather than going on hiatus between this General Convention and the 77th in 2012.
Political action in our church is not everyone's cup of tea. But those of us pledged to advocate for young people in our church need to be vigilant and active in encouraging, supporting, educating, and connecting our young people and their allies. Care to join us?

You can begin by asking your deputation about these two pieces of legislation when they report to your diocese. You can help the leadership in your congregation select or elect young people into leadership positions and then mentor them in that activity, rather than letting them grow confused and bored. You can educate and empower young people through participation in your own diocesan convention. Please share your progress and your questions by sending comments to the EpiscoYouth blog. I'll do my best to keep us up to speed.

Blessings upon you and your ministry.

No comments:

Post a Comment