NTC Trio Shares Experiences from Global Young People’s Convocation

Shipley, Lucas and Jones

Anna Shipley, Keri Lynn Lucas, Marcus Jones feel the global power at UMC event

On July 18-22, United Methodist young people and adult workers from around the world joined together in Johannesburg, South Africa, for the fourth Global Young People’s Convocation (GYPC) of The United Methodist Church.

Three representatives from the North Texas Conference were part of the 330-member worldwide delegation. Read below to find out more about their  experiences.

Anna ShipleyAnna Shipley

I have spent my whole life, a little more than 18 years so far, loving The United Methodist Church. My week spent at the Global Young People’s Convocation not only encouraged me about the future of our denomination, but also reinvigorated that love for The UMC in my heart.

Something so unique and special about The UMC is the global nature of our church. I worshipped, prayed and listened to the spirit move through people from 48+ countries who were speaking dozens of languages. I heard about struggles and hardships unique to certain cultures, and shared strife across geographic boundaries.

My small group included our moderator who was a Global Missions Fellow from Brazil, and people from South Africa, Germany, Zimbabwe, different regions of the U.S. and the Philippines. In this small group we openly discussed our views on several social issues that face our churches and communities.

As a legislative body, we were able to produce several pieces to send to General Conference that I truly believe are reflective of the global needs of our church and advocate for justice. I am so blessed to have been able to have this experience, which not only allowed me to connect with people who share my love for God and the church in my jurisdiction but also around the world.

I learned so much and cannot wait to see all the wonderful ways the work we did will impact The UMC, and I hope that others are inspired and empowered by the display of unity and compassion that we showed in South Africa at GYPC 2018.

Keri Lynn LucasKeri Lynn Lucas

I am bringing home a bigger love for The United Methodist Church. Getting to see the global nature of The UMC is not something we Methodists feel too often. We get caught up in “my” church or “my” conference and often forget that we are part of a larger body that reaches to the ends of the earth.

This global connection was on full display all week. In addition to this love for the UMC, I am also bringing home a way of looking at those who think differently from me. When it comes to contentious discussions about doctrine or church policy, we often dehumanize our enemy. We also convince ourselves that our way is correct.

This week, I sat across the table with those who fundamentally disagreed with me. This was sometimes difficult, but more often caused me to think and reflect on my own views. We even had some moments where we came to a compromise of what we wanted to say. The best part was in these conversations, no one was trying to convince the other to change their mind, rather everyone was listening to understand instead.

I am taking home with me a new sense in what bravery feels like. The legislative forums that took place were not for the light-hearted. They were no less scary because they were full of younger people.

Once during the forum, I summoned the courage to get up to the microphone and to use my words for all to hear. (Another shout out to our amazing translators so that our words really could be heard by our entire group.) In these moments at the microphone, adrenaline took over my entire body and my hands and knees were shaking, but I continued to speak the words I wanted to say. Bravery. I am taking home with me the gentle reminder that while speaking is important, having the same strong desire to listen is also essential.

Marcus JonesMarcus Jones

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together!” - African Proverb

The proverb above was quoted during the 2018 Global Young People’s Convocation in Johannesburg, South Africa, by Bishop Joaquina Nhanala, Resident Bishop of the Mozambique Episcopal Area. This proverb became the spiritual driving force of empowerment over 300 young people from around the world to unite in spirit, worship and fellowship as we discussed how to contribute to make The UMC a better Church in the making of disciples for the transformation of the world. It was an experience of life-changing proportions.

The Convocation planning committee worked diligently to ensure that no barrier (language, cultural, social, etc.) existed that could hinder great worship, inspiring preaching and deep theological discourse at this convocation. Each participant was given a translation device to allow everyone to fully engage in every component of the event in his or her native language. Worship was led by a variety of churches from Africa: South Africa, Mozambique and Angola. The hospitality of the hotel staff and restaurant servers was unmatched, and the array of food was spectacular.

We also spent time away from conferencing and worship to engage South Africa on a historical immersion to the Apartheid Museum, Constitution Hill and Hector Pieterson Museum. Each immersion told a specific story of South Africa’s history of Apartheid, how the country overcame injustice and racial oppression, and its progress to ensure the country’s future success.

The Convocation concluded with a cultural celebration. This was a time for each of Jurisdictions and Central Conferences to display something specific to the context of each group. This was a fantastic time to engage one another and share what makes the United Methodist Church so great: that we are a diverse global church seeking to share the love and grace of God in the ways God has graced us to do. When the convocation was over, old bonds were renewed, new friends and relationships were developed, and confidence in a prosperous future of the United Methodist Church was made evident!

Sites around Johannesburg

Published: Wednesday, August 8, 2018