From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Two More Advisers Are Assigned to Youth Delegates

Date 04 May 1996 16:06:07


96097   Two More Advisers Are Assigned to Youth Delegates 
                          by Alexa Smith 
CHICAGO--Two more advisers will be assisting Youth Advisory Delegates 
(YADS) at the 208th General Assembly in Albuquerque this year even though 
the number of YADs will be half what it has been in years past. 
     "For committee times, YADs are in a lot of different areas," said the 
Rev. Harriet A. Nelson of San Anselmo, Calif., chair of the Assembly 
Arrangements Work Group of the Committee on the Office of the General 
Assembly (COGA). "And it's very hard to make contact with them ... to be 
available to answer their questions, to help with process." 
     In the past, 166 YADs have been assisted by two advisers.  COGA's 
action now provides four advisers at an approximate cost of $1,195 each for 
possibly 85 YADs. 
     Last year, the Assembly voted to reduce the number of YADs by 
one-half.  Each presbytery will be represented by a YAD every other year. 
     Rodger Nishioka, associate for leader development for youth ministry, 
says the job of youth adviser is to assist YADs with the Assembly process. 
They also, he says, provide pastoral care to the 16-21-year-olds, some of 
whom have never stayed away from home before and most of whom have never 
participated in a meeting as complex, as large, or as political as the 
General Assembly. 
     "[The advisers] check in daily with the young people, making sure 
they're feeling a part of the Assembly.  It's easy to get lost at a General 
Assembly meeting," Nishioka told the Presbyterian News Service, pointing 
out that often resource people from their home presbyteries overlook YADs. 
Presbytery commissioners are often too busy themselves to spend much time 
with young people, though YADs sit with commissioners on the plenary floor. 
"Not physically lost.  But in terms of the committees. 
     "The advisers do intentional check-ins," he said, adding that advisers 
are not there to give advice on issues or to lobby YADs to vote in a 
particular way. 
     Given the politicized climate of PC(USA) General Assemblies, COGA has 
been debating how YADs can be part of the Assembly without feeling 
exploited.  A few YADs each year complain about pressure from special 
lobbies. And some Assembly watchers have become increasingly nervous about 
how YADs seem to be targeted by lobbyists, with more voting in blocks and 
some delivering speeches from the Assembly floor that were allegedly 
written by lobbyists who have no formal speaking rights. 
     During COGA's recent meeting here, General Assembly Council executive 
director the Rev.  James D. Brown told the committee he has concerns about 
YADs being used as political voting blocks rather than being taught 
Reformed process.  "I'm not sure that takes into account their integrity as 
human beings or their growth in faith," Brown said, adding that a Reformed 
understanding allows Presbyterians to come into meetings open to the 
Spirit's movement rather than simply being closed to differing points of 
     Nishioka said representatives of special interest groups are 
introduced as lobbyists to YADs during Assembly orientation, but each year 
"a handful" of youth delegates wind up feeling somehow surprised and 
manipulated by lobbyists during the Assembly's course.  After a YAD survey 
at the Wichita Assembly, Nishioka said two-thirds of polled YADs said 
lobbyists had undue influence. However, at least half said they did not 
want to be shielded from them. 
     When asked if added advisers is simply a way for COGA to control YADs, 
Nelson said, "I hear what you're saying. [It could] look like a control 
issue,  but it actually has to do with helping them be part of the Assembly 
in positive ways." 
     Brown told COGA's Assembly Arrangements Committee that his office will 
assist in finding money to pay for the two additional advisers. 
     Nishioka finds volunteers to serve as advisers each year, approaching 
youth leaders and pastors across the church. 

For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
  phone 502-569-5504            fax 502-569-8073  
  E-mail   Web page: 


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