From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[PCUSANEWS] If it walks like a GA and talks like a GA ...

Date Tue, 5 Aug 2003 09:07:41 -0500

Note #7858 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:

If it walks like a GA and talks like a GA ...
August 1, 2003

If it walks like a GA and talks like a GA ...

Youth Connection participants won't duck the tough issues

by Jerry L. Van Marter

LOUISVILLE - Homosexuality. Abortion. Biennials. Curriculum. A new confession
of faith. Representation in the church's governing bodies. Interfaith
relations. Evangelism. HIV/AIDS in Africa.

Sounds like the agenda of a Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly.

Not quite. It's the agenda of the third triennial Presbyterian Youth
Connection Assembly (PYCA) meeting. And it's proof positive that controversy
hounds Presbyterians of all ages.

Thirty-four resolutions have been submitted to the Assembly, which is meeting
here through Aug. 3. They'll be taken up during plenary session Friday and
Saturday by the official delegates chosen by their presbyteries.

The resolutions come to the PYCA the same way commissioners' resolutions come
to the General Assembly - any two official delegates can submit a resolution.
Each is referred to one of 14 PYCA committees, which will debate them and
make recommendations to the full Assembly.

Many of the resolutions have a familiar ring.

Several address human sexuality, probably the most divisive issue in the
PC(USA). One, from Brittany Harold of St. Augustine Presbytery and Elizabeth
Desanto of Mid-Kentucky Presbytery, urges the 2004 General Assembly to
refrain from debating the issue of ordination of sexually active gays and
lesbians. Another, from Nathan Ballantine of Florida Presbytery and Robin
Mann of Charlotte Presbytery, would have the YPCA "affirm the call of
homosexuals, bisexuals and transgendered persons to all areas of ministry and
encourage others to do the same."

Myra Shanks of Holston Presbytery and Alison Burchett of Olympia Presbytery
presented a resolution urging the PYCA to urge commissioners to next year's
GA to "cease attempting  to determine, or come to a consensus, on whether sex
between consenting adults is a sin."

And Sarah McGill of Philadelphia Presbytery and Travis Peters of Mission
Presbytery want the PYCA to send youth emissaries to the warring factions in
the PC(USA)'s homosexuality debate, to encourage them to "set aside their
differencesso that the whole church may turn its attention to the true work
of the church."

One resolution has to do with abortion. Jenna Shenk of Baltimore Presbytery
and Jordan Hughes of Mission Presbytery want the PC(USA) to distribute
materials on a number of "sanctity of life" events and ministries that offer
alternatives to abortion.

Now that the General Assembly has decided to schedule its meetings only every
other year, a resolution from Jimmy Hoke of the Presbytery of the James and
Kathryn McAbee of Peaks Presbytery would have the PYCA schedule its own
meetings biennially, and in years when there is no GA.

Jessica Reese of Holston Presbytery and Susan Newman of Cayuga-Syracuse
Presbytery have presented a resolution asking that the number of Youth
Advisory Delegates to the General Assembly be increased proportionately to
the increased number of commissioners when biennial Assemblies commence in

Young people's representation at the congregational level is on the minds of
some delegates. Four resolutions - from Kelly Powell of Tampa Bay Presbytery
and Pam'la Cowan of Philadelphia Presbytery; Joey Silva of Florida Presbytery
and Laura Leon of Tropical Florida Presbytery; John Jenkins of Sheppards &
Lapsley Presbytery and Chichi Nkemere of Western Reserve Presbytery; and Josh
Andrzejewski of Philadelphia Presbytery and Travis Allen of Palo Duro
Presbytery - all encourage congregations to do more to include "youth elders"
on sessions.

The PYCA delegates are ranking curricula high on their priority list.

The Rev. Bob Moss, an adult advisor, and Jamie McSpadden of Providence
Presbytery are interested in resources to help young people maintain their
faith in an increasingly secular culture.

Andrew Whaley of East Tennessee Presbytery and Patricia Massey of Coastal
Carolina Presbytery want a confirmation curriculum that focuses on
spirituality, leadership development and PC(USA) history. Scott Sumner of
Missouri River Valley Presbytery and Nick Dougherty of Homestead Presbytery
want a "standard confirmation curriculum" for churches to use at their

Karen Cook and Marshall Goforth of New Covenant Presbytery are requesting
resources to help youth learn about Islam. Katie Jasa of Homestead Presbytery
and Dusty Strickler are asking that "education about other faiths" be made a
priority of the PC(USA).

Evangelism is another prominent concern.

Sarah Bramer and Andrew Meddaugh of New Covenant Presbytery want
faith-sharing resources for youth and young adults. Jillian Hand of Carlisle
Presbytery and Jose L. Torres Hernandez of the Hispanic Caucus want the
church to make more information available on its church-growth goals for
racial-ethnic membership. And Anna Casteen of Grace Presbytery and Dave
Armstrong of Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery want training for congregations in
attracting and ministering to post-high school young people.

Nathan Ballantine of Florida Presbytery and Omayro Gonzalez of Northwest
Presbytery in Puerto Rico wants the PC(USA) to form a partnership with the
"Ministry of Hope" in Malawi to address the HIV/AIDS crisis where its most

And, in what may be the most ambitious resolution to be considered, Moss and
McSpadden propose that the PC(USA) appoint a national committee of young
people to write a "youth confession" for the church.

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