Adventist Church's top committee to include more young adults

Adventist Church's top committee to include more young adults

Business Meetings | Silver Spring, Maryland, United States | Edwin Manuel Garcia/ANN

After repeated postponement, youth advocates to get more say, vote

On many occasions over the past week, delegates at the 59th General Conference Session have taken to the microphone to voice strong opinions about the lack of youth representatives, even when the topic being publicly discussed at the moment was unrelated.

In response, church officials sitting at the desk on stage politely told the youth advocates to hold their thoughts for a more appropriate time.

Then came Friday, during the last business meeting of the 10-day Session. That's when delegates finally got a chance to discuss -- and approve -- an agenda item that encourages youth representation on the General Conference Executive Committee.

The issue: An amendment to the General Conference Constitution and Bylaws that states that the committee's membership shall include "not less than 15 and not more than 20 members ... from laity including young adults."

The proposal was adopted nearly unanimously, but not before several delegates attempted to incorporate more specific language into the amendment, such as a definition of young adult and a different number of young adult representatives.

A young adult is often universally defined as someone between the ages of 18 and 35, but delegates chose to not adopt an age range.

A total of 43 delegates under age 30 are registered for the Session, out of a total of 2,233 delegates who had registered by Thursday.

Friday's proposal dealt only with the makeup of the Executive Committee, which has about 300 members. Delegates who voiced concerns earlier in the week about lack of representation among the delegate pool were reminded that local conferences, unions and divisions choose the bulk of delegates for Session.

"Young people [are] very important person for our future in our world church," said Lisa Choi of the Northern Asia-Pacific region, adding, "yesterday's sermon mentioned this already."

Delegates also heard from former world church President Jan Paulsen, the highest-

profile Adventist leader who earned a reputation during his 11-year tenure for encouraging youth worldwide to participate in church programming.

Paulsen said it was "wonderful" that the General Conference administration was engaged in the issue. "Five years ago we didn't have this provision," Paulsen said. "I believe the Holy Spirit is leading us and my heart rejoices."

One delegate opposed the amendment, suggesting he wouldn't want to trade an experienced, older member with someone with much less experienced.