Official Youth Presence Research

BenToday’s guest blogger is Benjamin Cowgill, General Convention Official Youth Presence Class of 2012 from Province IV. He’s coming back to General Convention with us in two weeks to serve as an adult mentor, and to conduct some research!

Three years ago I was privileged to be a part of the Official Youth Presence (OYP).  For me OYP was one of my highlights of high school and a life changing event. It affirmed my vocation to serve the church, and since has made me more aware of global issues and the work of the Episcopal Church. In college I have had the opportunity to do religious studies as well as take classes in youth ministry to continue my passion in the field.

Following my main youth ministry class last fall, I found myself asking questions. Much of the contemporary research in youth ministry focuses on the reason Christian teens leave the church during young adulthood.  I wanted to know what made teens want to stay.  By partnering with my college and the Youth Ministries office for the Episcopal Church, I get a chance to answer this question. But I will need some help from my fellow GCOYP alumni, from my class and other General Conventions.

This summer I am investigating the link between participation in church governance and the religiosity of youth and young adults.  By surveying and interviewing both the current members and alumni of the General Convention Official Youth Presence, I hope to build both a narrative history of this program for the Episcopal Church, as well as see if this program and others like it have a positive effect on involvement in the church bridging from high school participation to continued young adult engagement.

This is where we need your help more specifically.  If you were involved in GCOYP from 1997 onward, or know someone who was, we would love to have you take our general survey. To sign up, please email me at bncowgill@gmail.com. You can also request a return call from me at that email address to hear more about my research and get any questions answered.

Thank you in advance for reaching out – every person we can connect with will help us paint a fuller picture of how God is working through our church, and how both the Episcopal Church and Christ’s larger church as a whole, can improve the religious life of our youth and young adults.


General Convention Official Youth Presence and Alums - July 2012

General Convention Official Youth Presence and Alums – July 2012

Thank you, Ben! We look forward to having you with us at the 78th General Convention and to hearing about your findings. The Office of Youth Ministry is extremely interested in identifying as many former GCOYP participants as possible. Ben’s research is only covering the years in which the Youth Presence actually had seat and voice on the floor of the House of Deputies by a change in their Rules of Order which took effect in 1997. We know the program dates back to a resolution in 1982. Please forward this and ask GCOYP alumni to contact the youth ministry office’s current missioner, Bronwyn Clark Skov, at bskov@episcopalchurch.org or on Facebook. We would like you to join us for dinner with the current OYP and the Young Adult Festival on Monday, June 29. Questions? Call Bronwyn at 646-242-1421. See you in Salt Lake City in two weeks!

Bronwyn Clark Skov publicó: “El bloguero invitado de hoy es Benjamin Cowgill, clase 2012 de la IV Provincia en la Presencia Oficial de la Juventud en la Convención General. Él vuelve con nosotros a la Convención General dentro de dos semanas para servir como mentor adulto, y para llegar a cabo alguna investigación. ¡Hace tres años!”.

El bloguero invitado de hoy es Benjamin Cowgill, clase 2012 de la IV Provincia en la Presencia Oficial de la Juventud en la Convención General. Él vuelve con nosotros a la Convención General dentro de dos semanas para servir como mentor adulto, ¡y para llegar a cabo alguna investigación!

Hace tres años, tuve el privilegio de ser parte de la Presencia Oficial de la Juventud (OYP, por su sigla en inglés). Para mi la OYP fue uno de mis hitos cuando estaba en la escuela secundaria y un evento que me cambió la vida. Afirmó mi vocación de servir a la Iglesia y desde entonces  me ha hecho más consciente de los problemas globales y de la obra de la Iglesia Episcopal. En la universidad he tenido la oportunidad de hacer estudios religiosos, así como tomar un curso sobre el ministerio de los jóvenes a fin de mantener mi pasión en este campo.

Luego de mi primera clase sobre ministerio de los jóvenes el otoño pasado, me encontré haciéndome algunas preguntas. La mayor parte de la investigación contemporánea en el ministerio de los jóvenes se centra en la razón de que los adolescentes cristianos se van de la Iglesia cuando se convierten en jóvenes adultos. Yo quería saber lo que hicieron los adolescentes que optaron por quedarse. Al asociarme con mi universidad y con la Oficina del Ministerio de los Jóvenes de la Iglesia Episcopal, tuve una oportunidad de responder a esa pregunta. Pero voy a necesitar alguna ayuda de mis compañeros que han sido miembros de Presencia Oficial de la Juventud en la CG, tanto de mi clase como de otras convenciones generales.

Este verano estoy investigando el nexo entre participación en el gobierno de la Iglesia y la religiosidad de los jóvenes y los jóvenes adultos. Al hacer una encuesta y entrevistar tanto a miembros actuales como ex miembros de la Presencia Oficinal de la Juventud en la Convención General, espero crear tanto un relato narrativo de este programa para la Iglesia Episcopal, como ver si este u otros programas semejantes tienen un efecto positivo en la dedicación a la Iglesia, al hacer que la participación desde la escuela secundaria se continúe en el compromiso de los jóvenes adultos.

Es aquí donde necesitamos tu ayuda de manera más específica. Si tomaste parte en la GCOYP a partir de 1997, o sabes de alguien que haya tomado parte, nos encantaría que contestaras nuestra encuesta general. Inscríbete y, por favor, envíame un mensaje de e-mail a bncowgill@gmail.com. También puedes pedirme, en esa dirección de e-mail, que te devuelva la llamada para darte más detalles de mi investigación y obtener respuestas para algunas interrogantes.

Gracias de antemano por haberte dirigido a mí —toda persona con que podamos conectarnos nos ayudará a pintar un cuadro más completo de la manera en que Dios obra a través de nuestra Iglesia y de qué manera tanto la Iglesia Episcopal como la Iglesia cristiana en general, pueden perfeccionar la vida religiosa de nuestros jóvenes y de nuestros jóvenes adultos.

Presencia Oficial de la Juventud y ex compañeros en la Convención General: julio de 2012

¡Gracias, Ben! Esperamos tenerte con nosotros en la 78ª. Convención General y enterarnos de los resultados de tu investigación. La  Oficina del Ministerio de los Jóvenes está extremadamente interesada en identificar a tantos ex participantes de la GCOYP como sea posible, gracias a un cambio en su Reglas de Orden La investigación de Ben sólo abarca los años en los cuales la Presencia de la Juventud tuvo en verdad asiento y voz en el pleno de la Cámara de Diputados, mediante un cambio en las Reglas de Orden que tuvo lugar en 1997. Sabemos que el programa se remonta  a una resolución de 1982. Por favor, divulga esto y pídeles a ex compañeros de la CGOYP que se pongan en contacto con Bronwyn Clark Skov, la actual misionera de la Oficina del Ministerio de los Jóvenes, en bskov@episcopalchurch.org o en Facebook. Nos gustaría que te reunieras con nosotros para una cena durante el actual OYP y el Festival de Jóvenes Adultos el domingo 29 de julio. ¿Preguntas? Llama a Bronwyn al 646-242-1421. ¡Te veré en Salt Lake City dentro de dos semana!

 

Young Leaders

come_as_you_are_article1This week the Episcopal Church Foundation published its digital newsletter, Vital Practices, with an article by a young adult who is close to my heart.

I met Lucy Cabrera Montes in the spring of 2006 when I volunteered as one of the adult mentors of the General Convention Official Youth Presence in Columbus, Ohio. I know her as Luz Cabrera, as I met her when she was a teenager from Houston and before her recent marriage.

Luz navigated the 75th General Convention as one of the only bi-lingual youth, spending much of her time helping to translate and interpret for her new friend, Alexa, from the Dominican Republic. The two of them witnessed the announcement of the election of the current presiding bishop from the floor of the house of deputies. As many of us were marveling at the election of a woman, Luz and Alexa were giggling as they tried on a new word in their first language; obispa.

10498256_949558981736880_957669064791817675_oLuz returned to the 77th General Convention to pay it forward as a young adult mentor and interpreter, and she has also assisted at the Episcopal Youth Event. She is pictured on the left in the red shirt next to another outstanding young adult, the Rev. Arlette Benoit. They both serve the youth ministry office as Youth Ministry Liaisons. I know Luz to be a faithful, compassionate, intelligent, creative and friendly soul. Please read her article linked here to get a greater sense of her ministry in her local community.

And please stay tuned here as we continue our journey toward the 78th General Convention in search of the stories of Official Youth Presence Alumni. If you know a former GCOYPer, forward the article and tell her or him to get in touch!

Faithfully,

Bronwyn Clark Skov

Missioner for Youth Ministry

 

Congratulations Official Youth Presence!

GC logo15_colorPlease join us in congratulating the 18 members of the 2015 General Convention Official Youth Presence! These particpants were discerned from a field of over 100 applicants, each hoping to be selected as one of two high school teenagers representing their province of the Episcopal Church.

These teens will gather together in Salt Lake City the weekend of April 9-12 to engage in community building, gifts discovery, parliamentary procedure training, and legislative process. They will then reconvene at the 78th General Convention in Salt Lake City to participate in committee hearings and take their place in the debate on the floor of the House of Deputies. Please hold the following participants in your prayers as we work our way toward #GCOYP15.

Anna Foster Province I Maine
Allegra Robinson Province I Massachusetts
Uzodinma “Uzo” Kanu Province II Long Island
Joseph “Joey” Archibald-Bowers Province II Virgin Islands
Nathan Harpine Province III Virginia
Nancy Brooks Province III Washington
Arthur “High” Garst IV Province IV Western NC
Levi Thompson Province IV Louisiana
Holden Holsinger Province V E Michigan
Richard Pryor, III Province V Ohio
Sydney Norman Province VI Minnesota
Summer Murray Province VI Nebraska
Amelia Mackey Province VII Arkansas
John C. Zuk Province VII Oklahoma
Sonja Barba Province VIII Hawaii
Madelyn “Maddy” Gonzalez Province VIII Olympia
Andrea Pena Province IX Honduras
Amanda Zorrilla Province IX Puerto Rico

These youth will be mentored and shepherded by a team of adults from across the church who are committed to youth ministry, some of whom have General Convention experience, and others new to this event. The Rev. Canon Vincent Black (Ohio) will serve as Chaplain to the group. The Rev. Randy Callender (Maryland), Celia Arevalo (Honduras), Christopher Palma (Missouri), Mindy Boynton (Minnesota), the Rev. Earl Gibson (San Diego), and Cookie Cantwell (East Carolina) will serve as mentors. Two deputies have been appointed by the House of Deputies President, the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, to lead the parlimentary procedure and legislative process training in April; the Hon. Byron Rushing, Vice President of the House of Deputies (Massachusettes), and the Rev. LeeAnne Watkins, Rector of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in St. Paul, Minnesota. Team Associate Valerie Harris will provide logistical support to the group and Youth Missioner Bronwyn Clark Skov is coordinating the presence on behalf of the General Convention Office.

The Office for Youth Ministry thanks the hundreds of people who applied, nominated, and discerned so many faithful and faith-filled candidates for consideration. The discernment was difficult, but having such a diverse field of qualified candidates to choose from was heartening. Watch the Youth Ministry Blog for updates and follow hashtag #GCOYP15 during General Convention to track their experience in Salt Lake City.

Q&A on 2015 General Convention Official Youth Presence

Applications for participation in the General Convention Official Youth Presence (GCOYP) have been open for a week and several members of the youth ministry network have called or emailed with questions. Here are a couple of questions with my responses that are worth sharing with the larger community.

What about my 15 year old freshman who is brilliant but won’t be 16 by General Convention?

The Canons of The Episcopal Church recognize 16 years of age as the age of adulthood for communicants in good standing to function as adults within the church. They should be recognized with voice and vote at their annual congregational meeting and may be eligible to stand election to vestry, convention delegate, and General Convention deputy. As a youth minister of 24 years, I also hold that rarely does a 15-year-old possess the maturity and stamina to function well at a 10-day long adult event of the magnitude of General Convention. It is also highly likely that these youngest youth will be eligible again for General Convention 2018. Please understand this is not a measure to exclude, but to engage real discernment for those with gifts and passion for this unique event in the life of the church. GCOYP isn’t your average youth event!

So few are selected, and only two per province, why should we go to the trouble of the application and nomination process if there’s little chance my youth will be selected?

Here lies the beauty of youth ministry in the church. This application process is an opportunity for local gifts discernment and mentoring. Serving as a deputy, delegate, vestry member, or GCOYP is not for everyone! And over the course of life we will not be selected for every opportunity we desire. However, we will never be selected if we don’t apply. Completing an application and working with an adult to complete a nomination for GCOYP is an adventure into gifts discernment, articulating hopes and dreams, building in accountability, and taking risks on behalf of ourselves to serve an institution and join God’s mission in the world in a very specific way. The Episcopal Church also needs a healthy number of applicants to offer themselves so we can engage discernment from a place of wide diversity from many perspectives: ethnic, racial and cultural heritage; rural, suburban, and urban demographics; different places across our theological spectrum; and socio-economic diversity. Please do not opt out or strand us with a narrow band of applicants. Engaging this process should be beneficial for all who participate, and it will help mentor youth in the process.

When will we know who is selected?

As stated in the application materials, there will be stages of notification according to province. We refrain from announcing the members of the delegation until we have all 18 youth identified and have permissions secured from their parents or guardians. In the discernment we will select more than 18 potential members and then begin making invitations. Some youth may decline due to new developments in their own lives, and that will impact who we invite in his/her place. All kinds of criteria will be considered in preparation for this possibility including gender balance for lodging options. Discernment and selection is a complex process that we undertake prayerfully, thoughtfully, and thoroughly. We will definitely make announcements by mid-March at the very latest.

What about youth who want to go to General Convention even if they are not selected for GCOYP?

There is a guest registration fee for individuals to attend General Convention. There is not an organized youth event mandated or funded for General Convention. The Youth Ministry Office is currently consulting with Inspiring Mission to try and coordinate hospitality and logistics for youth groups who would like to attend for part of convention. Feel free to contact them using the link above and please stay tuned for more on that score in the next two months. Hotel space is tight, so I encourage groups who want to join us in Salt Lake City to begin planning now!

Other questions? Please feel free to contact me at bskov@episcopalchurch.org or calling 646-242-1421. I’ll be back from Thanksgiving with my family on Tuesday, December 2.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Bronwyn