From the Worldwide Faith News archives


Date 05 May 1996 09:00:12


                         By Julian Shipp 
LOUISVILLE, Ky.--The General Assembly's authorization to cut the number of 
youth advisory delegates (YADs) who attend Assemblies by half has left some 
youth delegates feeling at odds with the National Presbyterian Youth 
Ministry Council (NPYMC), but council members say this was never their 
     Under the overture, half of the denomination's 171 presbyteries will 
send one YAD to the General Assembly on an annual, rotating basis beginning 
in 1996. This means 85 or 86 youth delegates (depending on the year) will 
attend future Assemblies. 
     The resulting yearly savings in per capita funding will be designated 
for the Triennial Youth Connection Assembly, a new churchwide youth event 
to be held every three years. This program will supplement the continuing 
Presbyterian Youth Triennium, which was held July 25-30 at Purdue 
     Both programs are under the umbrella of the denomination's new 
national youth ministry program, the Presbyterian Youth Connection (PYC). 
The PYC, which received its official kickoff during this year's Assembly, 
will attempt in various ways to link youth ministries in Presbyterian 
churches throughout the country. According to program officials, one of its 
main goals is to bring together 30,000 participants in St. Louis at the end 
of 1999 to celebrate the start of the new millennium. 
     The Rev. Robert Hay, NPYMC executive committee member and adult 
representative from the Synod of South Atlantic in Marietta, Ga., said 
several YADs informed him during this year's Youth Triennium that they felt 
"betrayed" by the NPYMC, since it appeared to many of them at the General 
Assembly that the youth ministry council made the initial recommendation to 
reduce their numbers. 
     In fact, Hay said, the NPYMC has unanimously recommended for years 
that the Assembly not reduce the number of youth advisory delegates because 
the council feels the YADs are an important part of the denomination's 
     Hay said NPYMC members were told during their spring meeting by NPYMC 
co-moderators, representatives of the Office of the General Assembly and 
Office of the Stated Clerk that a reduction in the number of YADS was 
inevitable, since all church advisory groups are being reduced.  
     Over the years, church leaders have been seeking creative ways to 
enhance youth participation in the church while struggling with the reality 
of shrinking funds. 
     Consequently, Hay said, questions have been raised about the role and 
presence of YADs by commissioners, advisory delegates themselves, staff 
persons and others. 
     "We struggled the entire length of our spring meeting with this 
issue," Hay said. "And we decided that if a reduction is inevitable, let's 
see if we can't turn it into a win situation for youth somewhere. We then 
recommended that a portion of the money saved by reducing the number of 
youth delegates be used toward something that will develop and train youth 
     "We would never have recommended YADs be cut had it not been said to 
us it's inevitable," Hay said. "We would never have betrayed the YADs and 
the YAD program, because we truly believe it's a valuable program." 
     J. Scott Schaefer, Office of the General Assembly director of the 
Department of Administration and Assembly Services, said approximately 
$60,000 is spent each year on youth advisory delegate transportation fees 
and hotel accommodations. 
     Schaefer said he believes if presbyteries have more time to select 
youth delegates for the General Assembly, they can assist the denomination 
in avoiding costly expenses from cancellations and rescheduling and send 
representatives who are better prepared for their responsibilities. 
     And by having both a Youth Triennium and a legislative Assembly 
session just for youth, Schaefer said, some church leaders possibly could 
surface who would then be elected by their presbyteries to be youth 
advisory delegates. 
     Lissa Smith, a National Presbyterian Youth Ministry Council member 
from the Synod of Southern California and Hawaii in Anaheim, Calif., said 
that if an Assembly overture had passed reducing the number of YADs without 
any financial gain, things would be "ten times worse" than the present 
     "Eventually the number of YADs would have been reduced anyway because 
the number of commissioners is being reduced," Smith said. "YAD 
representation is based on the size of the denomination. If the church 
grows a lot, then the number of YADS will grow again." 
     In the meantime, Hay said, he is worried over the possibility of 
lingering ill-feeling and disunity among Presbyterian youth over this 
     "I'm concerned that we have YADs in our church who are wonderful youth 
leaders angry at another group of wonderful youth and youth leaders within 
our church over a misunderstanding that neither one of us created," Hay 

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