From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[ENS] Young adults voices are strong informed

From "Mika Larson" <>
Date Mon, 4 Aug 2003 18:09:02 -0400

August 4, 2003

Young adults' voices are strong, informed

by Michelle Gabriel
Convention Daily 
[ENS] Gale Kenny, a 24-year-old graduate student at Rice University,
said her relationship with the Episcopal Church goes way beyond
Happenings youth retreats. But Kenny says some older adults she has
encountered at General Convention seem surprised that her days of
singing Episcopal camp songs are over. 

This convention, Kenny - who served as the assistant Episcopal chaplain
at Northwestern University - has been sharing advice about campus
ministry at the booth for the Episcopal Society for Ministry in Higher
Education. She has spoken at the evangelism and education committees and
said her ideas have been considered with respect and seriousness. 

But many people categorized as "young adults" say their opinions are
being overshadowed by their ages. Saturday afternoon, about 30 young
adults - including deputies and alternates - met to form a caucus, in
the hope that their voices will resonate more loudly as a group. 

Eighteen-year-old Elizabeth Hall, an alternate deputy from the Diocese
of Vermont, said she didn't think young adults' opinions are being taken
seriously in the House of Deputies. She said their decision on Thursday
to hold the 2006 General Convention in mid-June - before many teenagers
and some young adults are finished with school for the summer - proves
how little they care about a young adult voice at convention. 

Kenny said the problem lies not in the amount of caring and concern, but
in the type of speech that is encouraged.

"Some of the young adults have had training in strategic planning and
fund-raising through their campus ministries and other things, such as
graduate school and [work in] public policy," Kenny said. "[They] have
an idea of how to deal with resolutions and parliamentary procedure in a
way that is just as sophisticated as some of the adults who serve on

But Kenny said the young adults whose speech is applauded are giving
testimonials - not proposing amendments. 

"The [specialized] knowledge [of some young adults] is undermined by
other participants who speak with more evangelical and fiery rhetoric
that doesn't really address the aspects of the resolution at hand,"
Kenny said. 

"When the committees applaud these fiery testimonials, it makes the
young adults who have really thought about the issues prayerfully feel
like their work is not being appreciated," she said. "The catchy
jingoism undermines the message of those young adults who consider
themselves adults and not youth." 

Emily Sieracki, 22, said she is the youngest volunteer at the Integrity
exhibit booth by about 15 years. Sieracki said adults have been
encouraging of her desire to voice opinions. "[Young adults] are
stretched thin because we have an obligation to speak about young adult
issues and campus ministry because we have just come out of all these
things and we can speak about them better than older people," she said.
"But at the same time, it takes our time and energy away from issues we
are most interested in."

Kenny said some adults fail to realize that issues outside the realm of
campus ministry and evangelism matter to the convention's young adults.
"In real life, we don't walk around saying 'I want to vote for [a
particular candidate] because he likes young adult issues and
education," she said. "We care about things like health care."

Nicole Janelle, 25, a deputy from the Diocese of Maine and a student at
Union Theological Seminary in New York City, said young adults' voices
are silenced because they are not familiar with parliamentary procedure.
"Until we understand what we are doing with parliamentary procedure, it
is going to be difficult for us to really enter into the crux of the
conversation," Janelle said.

But Janelle said she noticed - and was impressed with - the increased
effort to include young voices at convention. "I think there could be
more support from [adult] folks," she said. "[But] having been to the
last few conventions, I find it heartening that there are increased
efforts to include young people."

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