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    United Methodists of Upper New YorkLiving the Gospel. Being God's Love.

    news article

    Youth voices matter: Bridging generational divides in church leadership

    June 6, 2024 / By Shelby Winchell, Director of Communications / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    Let our youth have a say. In his passionate plea to United Methodists of Upper New York, Victor Giso from First United Methodist Church of East Greenbush asked the annual conference body to include youth in the life and decisions of the church.  

    “Churches must create platforms for meaningful participation and leadership opportunities. By valuing our insights and fostering an environment of inclusivity, religious institutions can harness the energy and creativity of youth to address contemporary challenges and adapt to evolving social dynamics.” 

    Giso said bridges can be built across generational divides by recognizing youth as equal stakeholders in the faith community. Doing so will allow the sharing of knowledge while creating mutual respect. In turn, this would help create unity amongst Christians.   

    “Recognizing their unique developmental needs, churches can provide guidance, mentorship, and discipleship tailored to the realities of contemporary youth. Through intentional investment in their spiritual growth, the church ensures its relevance and cultivates a generation of committed and empowered followers of Christ.” 

    Challenges will remain, but Giso believes these challenges will offer opportunities for reflection, adaptation, and growth. Embracing diversity amongst all members can harness “transformative potential” in today’s youth to thrive in an ever-changing world.  

    Instead of just imagining youth and young adults as part of the church’s future, he urges churches to make them integral members by valuing their voices and empowering their leadership skills while nurturing their spiritual formation.  

    “Young people are part of the church's present–and with God's help, if you allow us, we are ready to help shape the future as we move forward together.” 

    Click here to watch a recording of Victor’s presentation at annual conference.  

    Bishop Héctor A. Burgos Núñez named the importance of investing in young people during his Episcopal address on Friday, May 31. He invited Destiny Hoerbelt from North Tonawanda First United Methodist Church to share her story of following God.  

    “We can walk through the darkness, through the fog, and through the confusion if we let God lead us. We need to let God be our headlights, our steering wheel, and our GPS. God connects us in ways we cannot see; but God can see it and to him the connections are clear.” 

    She explained that we don’t always walk in a direction knowing the outcome. Sometimes it is just being in the right place at the right time thanks to God. 

    “When Israel prayed for a savior from their Roman oppressors, they expected a military genius to overthrow their captures. Instead, Mary and Joseph were given a path to a manger where a child was born. Wisemen and shepherds were given a star to follow to where that same child lay; a child whose death and resurrection would overthrow tyranny, would overthrow empires, would overthrow death!" 

    Destiny explained that like Jonah, it’s normal to not always want to move. In Jonah 1:10, Jonah chose to flee from the presence of the Lord. He left his home in Gath-Hepher, traveled to the coastal city of Joppa, and boarded a ship to Tarshish in the opposite direction of Nineveh.   

    “We may not want the change we are given, but I have yet to hear about a suggestion box for God.” 

    The journey from Cairo, Egypt to Jerusalem is about a week-long journey on foot, yet it took Israelites 40-years to complete. “The Israelites had moved about in the wilderness forty years until all the men who were of military age when they left Egypt had died, since they had not obeyed the Lord” (Joshua 5:6 NIV). 

    Destiny said, “Where we are meant to be won’t change; how long it takes us to get there depends on our willingness to let God lead and for us to follow.” 

    Click here to watch a recording of Destiny’s presentation. 

    TAGGED / Communications / Youth / 2024 Annual Conference

    With more than 100,000 members, United Methodists of Upper New York comprises of more than 675 local churches and New Faith Communities in 12 districts, covering 48,000 square miles in 49 of the 62 counties in New York state. Our vision is to “live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be God’s love with our neighbors in all places."