Here you will find the texts of the following resolutions on youth and young adult ministries passed at previous General Synods:
GS 16 (1987) Young Adult Ministry
GS 18 (1991) Youth and Young Adult Ministry
GS 19 (1993) On Young Adults in the Church
GS 21 (1997) A Mission Statement For Youth Ministry and a Mission Statement for Young Adult Ministry
GS 24 (2003) Young Adult Ministries in the United Church of Christ
WHEREAS, historically young adults have been called to and have provided significant leadership in the growth and shaping of the church; leadership which was exhibited in the lives and works of Biblical young adults such as: Ruth, Daniel, Mary. the Mother of Jesus, Jesus, Peter, Timothy and early church leaders such as: Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Soren Kierkegaard; and
WHEREAS, young adults continue to provide active and vital leadership in the growth and shaping of the church today, which is exhibited by their participation in the local church as Christian educators, youth leaders, church board and consistory members, committee members and chairpersons, pastors, and in the association and conference as members and chairpersons of committees, task forces and commissions, leaders in Outdoor Ministry, representatives to annual meetings, and in the national church as delegates to General Synod, members of UCC boards and instrumentalities, missionaries, and national staff: and
WHEREAS, most young adults serving the church on the conference and national level were elected as youth delegates, whose purpose is to voice and represent the needs, concerns, and feelings of youth;
WHEREAS, the needs, concerns, and feelings of youth and young adults are uniquely different, making it difficult for young adults to adequately represent youth and equally difficult for youth to represent young adults;
WHEREAS, according to The Alban Institute* "... studies have shown that the primary age of return (to the church) runs from the early 20s' to the mid-30s'. The ten years between age 25 and 36 are the years in which people are most likely to become active in congregational life;"
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Sixteenth General Synod of the United Church of Christ calls on its boards and instrumentalities to recognize and affirm that the needs and gifts of young adults are distinct and unique; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Sixteenth General Synod asks that these gifts and needs should continue to be reflected in future programming for Christian Education, Evangelism, Stewardship, and Leadership Development; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Sixteenth General Synod requests the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries and the Youth and Young Adult Task Force or its successor body, to widely promote the 1988 Regional Young Adult Events, for the purpose of education, support, and leadership development; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Sixteenth General Synod requests that the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries and the Youth and Young Adult Task Force or its successor body, carefully evaluate Bylaws 171 and 212 and their implications for the effective and equivalent representation of both youth and young adults in the total life of our church, and report back to the Seventeenth General Synod.
*(Gribbon, Robert T., 30 Year Olds and the Church: Ministry with the Baby Boom Generation, Washington/ D.C: The Alban Institute, 1981, p.1)
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews and Greeks, slaves or free and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but many. . . . If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it (1 Cor. 12:12-14, 26 (NRSV)).
Conclusion of the Priority on Youth and Young Adult Ministries has brought mixed outcomes. Many conferences can be lauded for continued commitment to youth and young adult ministries. Yet, while this is so, youth and young adult ministries are waning in a growing number of conferences. Our observations are that conference program staff positions with youth and young adult responsibilities have been cut due to decreased budgets and/or restructuring. Additionally, even where portfolio assignments for youth and young adult ministries are still maintained, staff re-alignments have weakened youth and young adult ministry programs. These developments, if allowed to continue their present course, portend serious problems in the United Church of Christ's present ministries to youth and young adults and the future denominational affiliation of these groups.
Text of the Resolution
WHEREAS, Youth and Young Adult Ministries were voted as a Priority by General Synods from 1983 to 1987;
WHEREAS, Youth and Young Adults are in need of spiritual and leadership empowerment;
WHEREAS, Youth and Young Adults have a need to be involved in the ministries and missions of the denomination, and may drop out or seek other faith affiliations if they are not given the opportunities in the United Church of Christ;
WHEREAS, strong and vital Youth and Young Adult programs are found in some conferences and associations, other conference and association Youth and Young Adult programs have dwindled; and
WHEREAS, re-structuring in conferences, due to organizational and budgetary rationale, has resulted in increasing numbers of Youth and Young Adult program staff positions and programs that have been weakened and/or eliminated.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the Eighteenth General Synod encourages churches, associations, and conferences to prayerfully strengthen and replenish Youth and Young Adult programs and program staff positions in their conferences and associations;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Eighteenth General Synod calls upon conferences and associations to dialogue and work with Youth and Young Adults in order to develop new and creative responses for Youth and Young Adult ministries in times of changing needs; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Eighteenth General Synod calls upon the Council for Youth and Young Adult Ministries and the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries to survey, assess, and creatively present to the Nineteenth General Synod patterns, changes, and developments, and recommend implementation models in this issue of concern for youth and young adult ministries.
Subject to the availability of funds.
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one spirit we were all baptized into one body ø Jews and Greeks, slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one spirit.
Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but many....If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it. (I Corinthians 12:12-14; 26 NRSV)
Our Church constitution states "The United Church of Christ affirms the responsibility of each generation to make this faith its own in reality of worship, in honesty of thought and expression and in purity of heart before God. As Young Adults in the United Church of Christ, ages 18 -30, we are constantly searching and often lost in the struggle for our generation to live this out.
The report that is being brought to General Synod Nineteen by the Council for Youth and Young Adult Ministries has revealed that ministries available specifically for Young Adults have not moved forward since the Priority on Youth and Young Adult Ministries ended in 1989.
The current priority of Evangelism and Church Growth adopted by the Eighteenth General Synod asks us to look at where the church is going and growing. In looking toward the future, the church should look to Young Adults in this quest. One outcome of succussful Young Adults Ministries is the utilization of Young Adults as a resource for such growth. With this in mind we challenge the Nineteenth General Synod to help us further unite all our members by becoming a leader in Young Adult Ministries.
WHEREAS, the United Church of Christ seeks to be a church of "faithful people of all ages, tongues, races;"
WHEREAS, the United Church of Christ has historically affirmed and valued the presence and participation of young adults, defined as those people who have graduated from high school or 19 years of age through age 30, in its life and work; and
WHEREAS, despite that affirmation our church in recent times has not adequately included young adults in its life and work and struggled to minister to Young Adults;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that General Synod Nineteen of the United Church of Christ affirms the presence and participation of Young Adults, defined as those people who have graduated from high school or 19 years of age through age thirty, in the life and work of the church;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that General Synod Nineteen challenges and charges its member churches and ministers to include Young Adults in the life and work of the church and to provide significant ministries to, with, and for Young Adults;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries in consultation with the Council for Youth and Young Adult Ministries work with the wider church to develop and implement programs through which the church on all levels (local, association, conference and national) can be more inclusive of and responsive to Young Adults; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the Nineteenth General Synod respectfully requests the national instrumentalities, offices, commissions and agencies of the church to place an emphasis on the needs and opportunities for Young Adults, recognizing them as distinct and separate from youth programs throughout the church:
1) that denominational policy and practice insure that the voice of Young Adults be heard and heeded in all matters related to the faith and life of this beloved church;
2) that alternative models of ministry be developed to involve young adults in the ministry, mission and life of the whole church; and
3) that educational resource and materials and programs be developed, networked and actively shared in response to the unique needs or Young Adults.
Subject to the availability of funds.
WHEREAS, the United Church of Christ is committed to youth ministries and to young adult ministries;
WHEREAS the life and structure of the United Church of Christ is in transition and change; and
WHEREAS, the Council for Youth and Young Adult Ministries recognizes the need for a foundational statement to guide and define ministry with and by youth and young adults;
THEREFORE, BE IT RBSOLVED that the Twenty-first General Synod of the United Church of Christ embraces the following Mission Statements for Youth Ministry and Young Adult Ministry and calls upon all the ministry settings of the United Church of Christ to embrace them and put them into practice.
A mission statement for youth ministries
Youth Ministries within the United Church of Christ consists of diverse youth and youth leaders from various geographic regions, racial and cultural backgrounds, and theologies, who join in covenant, called and challenged by 1 Timothy 4:12:
"Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity"
As partners and leaders in service to God within churches, associations, conferences, and national bodies, the mission of Youth Ministries in the United Church of Christ is to:
Affirm the unique gifts and talents of youth;
Create "safe places" where youth can examine their faith journeys;
Develop youth leadership, promoting spiritual growth, encouraging stewardship, and strengthening a sense of belonging in the United Church of Christ;
Affirm the diversity within the United Church of Christ by supporting involvement of youth from all racial/ethnic groups and acknowledging that differences are assets to ministry;
Work to ensure fair and adequate representation by youth throughout the life of the United Church of Christ, including all boards, councils, and committees of the church;
Develop, nurture, and sustain adult leaders in youth ministry through training, resourcing, and networks of support;
Reach out to youth beyond the church, inviting all and ministering with all, to facilitate the spiritual growth of the community of faith through evangelism.
A mission statement for young adult ministries
Young Adult Ministries within the United Church of Christ encompasses a wide range of ministries, including campus ministries, military chaplaincy, and community-based ministry with young adults. While this ministry poses great challenges, we take to heart the commitment expressed in the United Church of Christ Statement of Faith:
"You bestow upon us your Holy Spirit, creating and renewing the church of Jesus Christ, binding in covenant faithful people of all ages, tongues, and races.
You call us into your church to accept the cost and joy of discipleship, to be your servants in the service of others..."
We strive to be inclusive of the whole body of Christ in local churches, associations, conferences, and national entities. The mission, of Young Adult Ministries in the United Church of Christ is to:
Affirm the unique gifts and talents of young adults;
Provide opportunities for young adults, through programs and resources, to explore ways to integrate their faith in their lives and through their life transitions;
Develop young adult leadership through resource and training programs that empower young adult and strengthen their commitment to the United Church of Christ;
Support existing models and create new models for ministries with young adults in higher education;
Work to deepen the multiracial-multicultural richness and understanding within the United Church of Christ by supporting involvement of young adults from all racial/ethnic groups and acknowledging that differences are assets to ministry;
Work to ensure fair and adequate representation by young adults throughout the life of the United Church of Christ, including all boards, councils and committees of the church;
Nurture adult leaders of young adult ministries through training, resources, and creating environments of support;
Fully embrace young adults in our churches and communities, addressing their needs and issues through evangelism and a spirit of Christian fellowship, renewing and supporting the growth of the body of Christ.
Subject to the availability of funds for introduction, promotion and education about the statements, and implementation.
Implementing bodies include all settings of the United Church of Christ (local churches, agencies, and ministries; Associations and Conferences; and national offices) with primary responsibility placed with the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries. Implementation will involve developing programs and ministries to make known the vision and goals of these statements.
WHEREAS, historically and currently, young adults have been called to and have provided significant leadership in the growth and shaping of the church, and
WHEREAS, many young adults have been nurtured and strengthened through strong youth ministries and are seeking ways to serve the church faithfully, and
WHEREAS, a gap exists between youth and young adult ministries in that ministries with youth are stronger, better established, and have better financial support than young adult programming, and
WHEREAS, many young adults are now expressing a feeling of disconnection from the church and each other, and
WHEREAS, the United Church of Christ acknowledges and proclaims that Young Adult Ministries is not merely a branch or an outreach of the church, but is an essential, driving life force that is in serious need of direction, resources, time and energy in all settings of the United Church of Christ, in order to avoid stagnation and to be faithful to the claims of the gospel to go into all the world.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the body of this General Synod of the United Church of Christ reaffirms its dedication to the development and support of young adult leadership and opportunities for spiritual growth;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that steps be taken, including the development of a national young adult event specifically for the United Church of Christ, to extend leadership opportunities to young adults and to further promote the building of today and tomorrow's leaders;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that local churches are encouraged to develop Young Adult Ministry programs including, but not limited to, maintaining contact with young adults who are in college, seminary or serving in the armed forces, and establishing relationships and ministering with young adults in the community, especially if the are located within or near a college community. Such programs may include providing transportation to church, providing opportunities for community service, or a place to explore meaningful questions about their faith and life in and encouraging and nurturing environment.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that conferences and/or associations are encouraged to establish councils or other bodies to plan and implement programming for young adults, provide support for developing and nurturing programs within the conference or association, and to serve as a liaison between the national, conference and local settings of the church.
FINALLY BE IT RESOLVED that the national setting of the United Church of Christ evaluate staffing patterns, provision of resources, and development of models, programs and resources to provide for the strengthening of ministry with young adults, recognizing their distinct and varied needs and gifts within the church.