By Charis Hill
I fortunately found myself a visitor in the House of Bishops the day the official youth presence was invited to share. As the two speakers made their way to the front of the room to a standing ovation, a few Young Adult Festival buddies and I found ourselves a bit jealous. Here we are, right smack dab in the middle of two groups: the “youth” (younger than me?) and the “adults” (older than me?). While I believe I am part of both of these groups as a young adult, I feel the official group (young adults) of which I am part is often overlooked, especially while we are in the midst of transforming our lives as we transition through college, graduation, and beginning careers and families – very big, stressful events. And we do not get a voice in front of the House of Bishops like the official youth presence. Their voices are heard. Do you know we are here as well?
During the past two days, I have often wondered how those who are part of the official youth presence will feel when they pass the age cutoff for being a “youth” and become a young adult. The privileges they have as official youth will suddenly change as they become “one of us” as we sing together, “stuck in the middle with you.”
What I want to happen is a growth of support for the in-between groups. I am so happy we have such a powerful and supported youth presence; this should not ever go away. What happens, though, when the youth grow up? They become young adults, and find, perhaps suddenly, that the voice they had so recently is now gone, or dramatically scaled back, because they now occupy a completely different position within the church.
Please hear our voices, and try to find a way to treat us as the young adults we are. Like the youth, we have special needs and desires. We want to share them with the Church, with General Convention, and we want to be embraced. The Church will grow if it is able to sustain and support the rising members of the Church. We must continue to support the youth, yes, but when the youth become young adults, please do not forget us. Please do not trust that we can support ourselves. We need nurture and care; we need the Church to be a constant in our lives. We need to hear that we, as young adults, have a supported place in the Church, so that the youth have something more to look forward to when they “age-up.”
Charis Hill is from the Dioceses of East and North Carolina.