From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Two More Advisers Are Assigned to Youth Delegates
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
"[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
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 PCUSA.NEWS@pcusa.org Web page: http://www.pcusa.org
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