By Meg Johnson
As I have mentioned before, I struggled with figuring out what my role here at General Convention is. I have figured that out. However, I am beginning to wonder where young adults really fit it at GC. It seems to me that we all get lumped together when, in reality, we play very different roles and have vastly different obligations.
There is the Official Youth Presence that has seat and voice in the HOD, but no vote. There are 18 of them, ages 16-19 and there presence at the GC thus far as been powerful. I have heard many of them speak up for their passions and fighting for the future vision of the Church.
There is also our group, which is the Young Adult Initiative with Episcopal Peace Fellowship. We strive to advocate for peace and justice issues that we feel strongly about. We work towards testifying to any resolution that inspires us to give it a voice. We vehemently follow and track resolutions. We share our work and our reflections through every moment of GC through social media.
There is also the Young Adult Festival that is focused more on ministry during the GC and simply observing and learning more about GC in general.
With all these different groups that include Youth or Young Adult in the their names, I can see how it could become confusing and convoluted to keep track of work of the young adults at GC. However, an effort could be made by all at GC to know all the different groups and what each of their roles are here at GC.
This is an exciting GC because of all the discussion centered on including more young adults or ensuring that they are better represented. This is a step forward. But I cannot stop thinking that if everyone’s, and I mean everyone’s, mindsets about young adults doesn’t change, than we’ll all be in big trouble. Older generations need to view us as equals and realize the fact that though we may not have the experience, we tend to be folks that have a whole lot of vision and a lot of passion to see that vision brought forth to life. I find that quite exciting—especially in our time of desperate need for renewed visions.
Young adults themselves also need to change their mindset about themselves. We need to accept that we may not be treated as equals, but that we will not give up efforts to assert ourselves in a way that persuades others to see us equals. We also need to believe in ourselves. It is easy to say to ourselves that we don’t have experience and that our opinions don’t matter. Or we use our age as an excuse to not be involved or not speak up.
If we ourselves do not begin to see ourselves as equals and assert ourselves as equals, than no one else will begin to treat us like equals. It is true that we all have work to do if we want to be taken seriously, but it begins with the young adults. I know it is easy to give up. It is hard to keep going when you finally are courageous enough to speak up and then you feel like no one is listening or taking you seriously. This is the easy way out though. We must continue to raise up and make ourselves known because one of these days they are going to notice us and one of these days, they are going to realize what they’ve been missing out on for so long—our joy, energy, enthusiasm, and most importantly, our valid voice of vision and hope.
This blog post was reprinted with permission from the author and from the Episcopal Peace Fellowship Young Adult Initiative at General Convention 2012 blog.