Four South Carolina United Methodists are among the youth, young adults and adult workers from all over the world gathered this week in Johannesburg, South Africa, for worship, fellowship, leadership development and conversations about young people’s hopes and dreams for the church.
The Global Young People’s Convocation, a collaborative effort among the church’s general agencies led by Young People’s Ministries, a unit of Discipleship Ministries, is expected to bring together 331 participants from 40 different countries for the five-day event beginning July 18.
“My heart is full of anticipation of what God will do in and through the young people that gather,” said Chris Lynch, a congregational specialist for the South Carolina Annual Conference and leader of the South Carolina Ministries with Young People who is attending as an adult delegate.
“I expect to have an experience that I won’t soon forget – not because I’m traveling halfway around the world, but because I believe God is at work in this generation.”
Lynch’s daughter, Lindy Lynch, is attending the convocation as a youth delegate representing her home church, Trinity United Methodist Church in Anderson. As she prepared for the trip, she said, God urged her to trust her heart and to take this opportunity to speak her mind.
“When I leave South Africa, I hope to have my knowledge about the United Methodist Church as a whole expanded,” she said. “I want to bring back ideas and strategies that I can share with my local church and others to help grow the church to its full potential.
“I want to come back to the United States having taken full advantage of the opportunity I’ve been given to work with other youth from around the world.”
Tyler Cattenhead – who is attending the convocation as a youth delegate, representing his home church, Central United Methodist Church in Florence – said he has “plenty of hopes and fears” heading into the gathering.
“I hope to get a better outlook on how teenagers and young adults from around the world share the same beliefs as me but represent those ideas in different ways,” he said. “I want to get a better understanding of how to work with different people of all nationalities. That is my biggest excitement for being a part of this tremendous event.”
The Rev. Elizabeth Murray, the youth minister at Lexington United Methodist Church, is attending the convocation as a young adult delegate. She is most looking forward to “seeing the best of the United Methodist Church in action, our global connection.”
“In a time when the United Methodist Church seems so divided, it will be refreshing to come together as young people from around the world to celebrate what God is doing in our lives and in our denomination, Rev. Murray said. “It will be crucial to hear what values young people have in common across the United Methodist Connection, but then also to see the ways in which we differ.
“This will be something really valuable for me to learn personally, but to also bring back to Lexington United Methodist Church and the South Carolina Annual Conference.”
The Global Young People’s Convocation Legislative Forum provides the opportunity for young people to propose legislation to the General Conference. Using a small group process, the convocation emphasizes dialogue instead of debate.
“It’s a great opportunity for young people to share their challenges, hopes and dreams for the church in their own settings,’ said Mighty Rasing, Young People’s Ministries’ program development director for Central Conferences. “Through GYPC 2018, young people will be able to build relationships with other young people from other places, and they have a chance to share and celebrate stories of faith and leadership.”
Each of South Carolina’s four delegates will be attending the convocation for the first time.
You can keep up with the South Carolina delegates’ experiences at the Global Young People’s Convocation by following scmyp on Instagram.
Chris Lynch also will be posting updates at scmyp.org.