Photo Courtesy of Hacking Christianity
An image from a famous Apple commercial depicts an athletic young woman smashing a video screen broadcasting messages that keep people locked into oppressive systems.
One of the recommendations from the Call To Action is the re-distribution of funds to young adults (those under 35 years old), $5million dollars of the first amount of money saved to go to them. That’s a great gesture and will certainly be put to good use. It makes me wonder, though, if the Call To Action values ministry to young adults rather than ministry with young adults. Are we included in the conversation or are we just being “ministered to?”
Young adult delegate Rachel Birkhahn-Rommelfanger from Northern Illinois and I took a look and here’s the disturbing numbers that we found.
The Connectional Table, which populated the Call To Action teams, has three young adult members on the team. That’s awesome and I’m glad they are involved in the highest perpetual body in the church alongside the Council of Bishops. So, excluding staff, three out of 49 members would make the Young Adult percentage on the Connectional Table as 6.12%. We’ll set that as a baseline.
So the Call To Action committee, which did the primary work of the Call to Action movement, has one young adult member on the team (Ben B.) with 15 other members. That’s pretty good, not representative of the actual number of young adults, but still respectable under the small size of the team. That would make the Young Adult percentage on the Call To Action steering team at 6.25%.
Now’s the bad news. The Interim Operations Team, which crafted the majority of the Call to Action legislation, has zero young adult members out of 12. So for the actual crafting of the legislation, putting all the vision into play, the young adult input and decision-making ability is exactly zero.
So Young Adults are seen, heard, but not involved in the writing of the actual legislation for the Call To Action. Bummer.
Now the good news: You have a choice! The response to the CallToAction put together by the Alternative Structure team has four young-adult co-signers to the legislation, out of 13. Thus, 30% of the Alternative Structure co-signers are Young Adults. Even when you include the extended team that co-wrote it but didn’t co-sign the legislation, you gain one young adult and make it five out of 32, or 15.62%.
I think there’s little wonder then that the Alternative Structure appeals to me as a young adult:
- It has a cautionary approach to authority by removing the Board of Directors
- it includes a diversity of voices by reducing the number of boards but still including at least 30 people on them.
- it keep the Methodist values of accountability in our strong connectional structure
All of which (a suspicion of authority, an appreciation of diversity, and enforcement of accountability…not to mention rebelliousness to bad ideas) are certainly United Methodist values in general but are also hallmarks of my generation of young adults in particular.
Where are the Young Adult voices in the Call To Action? When it comes to putting pen onto paper, the Alternative Structure includes their voices at every level of theory to organizing to writing. The Call To Action legislation has young adult voices at a lower percentage at the theory and organizing levels, but not the actual writing of the legislation.
It may or may not matter. From our research and head-counting, there is only ONE young adult on the General Administration committee at General Conference, which is the committee that handles the bulk of the CTA legislation. Out of 54 members, that’s 1.85% which is far less than the representation on either the Connectional Table or the Call To Action committee. So while young adult delegates will get to participate on the floor, in the back-and-forth consideration of the two proposals their involvement will be limited.
- Consideration: While I recognize this can be due to self-selection (both of the young adults from my annual conference delegation chose other committees), young adults are usually lower on the list and thus the General Administration committee would have been taken by other delegates beforehand.
- Consideration: the one young-adult is Rachel, and she’ll be louder and more articulate than half the committee, so it may even out.
Now we can go down the line and point out how many people are ethnic on each team, how many women, how many central conference people, how many hipster mac users, and that would cause some back-and-forth between which team is more representative of that particular group. But if the voices of young adults are most important to you, the Alternative Proposal includes them at every level and it shows in the values reflected in the proposal.
- Special thanks to Rachel and another good friend for helping with the facts and figures and inspiration.
- Full disclosure: I am one of the co-signers to the Alternative Proposal and include myself (I’m 32 years old) in the above numbers.
Reprinted from Jeremy Smith's blog, Hacking Christianity.