From the Worldwide Faith News archives

White House chooses initiative on young people as 'Promising

From NewsDesk <NewsDesk@UMCOM.UMC.ORG>
Date 01 Oct 1998 14:12:13


Oct. 1, 1998        Contact: Tim Tanton*(615)742-5470*Nashville, Tenn.
By United Methodist News Service

A United Methodist Church program focusing on the needs of young people
has been singled out for its work by President Clinton's initiative on

The Shared Mission Focus on Young People, a four-year churchwide
program, has joined the ranks of 500 Promising Practices cited by the
White House as models for improving race relations.

The church program's office received a call about two months ago from
White House staff, Director Linda Bales recalled. "President Clinton had
heard about the Shared Mission Focus and they wanted more information on
it, thinking that it might be appropriate to be named as a Promising

After an application process, the churchwide effort was chosen as a
Promising Practice. Information on the program is available on the World
Wide Web site of One America: The President's Initiative on Race

"The reason we were chosen for this is we have funded 27 pilot projects
in the United States and outside the U.S., and several of them focus on
eradicating or addressing racial issues," Bales said. 

The Web site highlights two of those projects. One involves efforts by
Chinese United Methodists and the Chinese Methodist Center Corp. in New
York to deal with despair, loneliness and low self-esteem in
Chinese-American youth. The other project is Youth Empowered for
Service, Survival and Self-esteem (YESSS), a program of Hobson United
Methodist Church and Brentwood United Methodist Church in Nashville,
Tenn. It works with at-risk youth in the Nashville area.

The Shared Mission Focus on Young People also works with other United
Methodist initiatives: the Hispanic Plan, the Native American
Comprehensive Plan, Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century,
the Communities of Shalom, the Restorative Justice Ministries Institute,
the Bishops' Initiative on Children and Poverty, and the Substance Abuse
and Related Violence Program.

"All of those initiatives address racism in some form or fashion," Bales

All of the Shared Mission Focus' pilot projects will be notified about
the program's designation as a Promising Practice, she said.

Whenever the church is dealing with issues of diversity and eliminating
racial barriers, Bales said, "we would like to be part of that in terms
of holding up some of these pilot projects as models." 

"We may build on this distinction to lift up the fact that there are
dynamic programs in the church that are being intentional about
addressing issues of race, and they're focusing on young people - youth
and young adults," she said.

When evaluating grant proposals, the Shared Mission Focus looks at how
programs deal with racial issues. Each project is asked to explain how
it would embrace diversity and be culturally sensitive to the areas and
people they're serving, Bales said.

The Shared Mission Focus on Youth was mandated by the 1996 General
Conference, the top lawmaking body of the United Methodist Church, in an
effort to reorder the denomination's priorities and concentrate on the
needs of people ages 12 to 30. The $3 million initiative aims to enable
young people to become full participants in church life and work.

The initiative is guided by a 19-member team of youth and young adults
from the United States, Africa, the Philippines and Sweden. It also has
about 11 resource people from the denomination's general agencies.

The initiative's selection as a Promising Practice was announced to the
team at its semiannual meeting, held Sept. 11-13 at Garrett-Evangelical
Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill. 

In other business, the team also:

*	Heard presentations on two pilot projects. One of the projects,
The School of the Spirit, is a program at Broadway United Methodist
Church in South Bend, Ind. The church has hired a program coordinator to
develop a school for neighborhood youth. Four young people, called
"Animators," are serving as key outreach people, contacting youth who
have a desire to teach a skill or develop a trade. The Animators are
helping make that happen. The other project, Promoting Reconciliation
Among Youths, is an effort by the Liberia Annual Conference to make
available trauma counseling for young people suffering from the
after-effects of war, and supporting young people who want to return to
*	Met with Aileen Williams and Trina Bose, with the churchwide
Connectional Process Team (CPT). The CPT was mandated by the 1996
General Conference to develop a "transformational direction" for the
denomination beyond the year 2000. The Shared Mission Focus team members
participated with the CPT representatives in a dialogue session on the
future role of the initiative.

*	Discussed efforts to have young people participate in the 2000
General Conference, the top legislative gathering of the United
Methodist Church. 

*	Discussed plans for a consultation with representatives from
United Methodist seminaries in the fall 1999. The event will explore
ways to strengthen theological education for ministry with youth and
young adults.

*	Discussed the results of two issue forums held in Washington --
a May 25-26 meeting focusing on violence and an Aug. 6-8 session on
substance abuse. Future forums will be structured differently, Bales
said. Teams will be sent into the local community to focus on the
unchurched and "once-upon-a-time church kids" to explore their thoughts
on how the church can become more relevant to them.

The Shared Mission Focus team's next meeting will be Feb. 18-21, at a
site yet to be chosen. The event will bring together representatives
from all 27 of the initiative's projects, Bales said.

United Methodist News Service
Releases and photos also available at


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