Students to Represent Conference in Philippines
The Philippines in 2014 – that’s where two of the TAC’s young adults will be joining the conversation as elected representatives of the Global Young Person’s Convocation and Legislative Assembly. Learn who they are and what they will be doing.
Conference Youth Council Ministry Leaders Audrua Malvaez, Faith UMC, Spring and Eddie Erwin from Lakewood UMC beamed like proud parents to watch two of their student leaders get elected, this summer at Camp Egan, to serve as representatives to the Global Young Person’s Convocational Legislative Assembly meeting in the Philippines next year.
According to Audra, “Twenty-three students from around our jurisdiction elected 10 youth representatives to attend GYPCLA in order to have their voices heard in the global conversation about the future and current life of the UMC.” TAC leaders Patrick Golden, a senior at Bellaire High School who is active at St. Paul’s UMC, Houston, and Rebecca Retzloff, a sophomore at the University of Texas, were elected as non-voting delegates. Half of all representatives are eligible to vote, the other half are non-voting delegates. Adds Audra, “The next step is fundraising. The trip will cost Patrick and Rebecca $3,000 each to attend GYPCLA. It is important that they attend as they are the representatives of our Conference. Through these young people, the TAC will have a voice in legislation that will be taken to General Conference in 2016. Our Conference has an opportunity to invest in the young globally AND locally by sending these two young people to participate in the connectionalism of the UMC.”
This election brings a natural string of kudos from those who have seen these young adults develop as leaders. Dad Philip Golden says, “We are so proud of Patrick and his involvement with the church. From a young age, he wanted to attend all the youth events he could – from Sunday school and UMY nights to overnight retreats. Before long, he progressed to out-of-state and week-long mission trips, and now leadership in the Texas Conference.” There are many things his mom, Susan, admires about Patrick, she says, “but I especially appreciate his passion for social justice and his unwavering optimism. Both of these gifts come from his connection with the St. Paul's community.”
Patrick’s leadership skills have evolved through his home church youth group experiences, serving as Youth Council president for TAC, attending the Youth Academy and providing his perspective to the delegates of the 2013 Annual Conference. He reads widely and deeply, and is aware of concern to get back to Wesleyan roots.
"Kids care about the future of the church, and the church needs to realize that and pay attention to youth, who tend to be more progressive,” he shares. “I understand the opposition toward progressiveness, but we can't just tread the middle ground.
Patrick was a rarity among his fellow jurisdictional delegates, as the only attendee from a large city, yet he found common ground with them. "I was the only youth at Camp Egan from the entire TAC,” notes Patrick, “and I was amazed at how easy it was to get to know the youth from the other conferences and to become their friends." During the gathering in Oklahoma, he adds, “We talked a lot among ourselves about what we as youth feel is important, such as social media, church organizational structure, and getting youth to participate. We were not as worried about attendance numbers as about transforming lives. We don't look at church as a building, but where the people are. Wesley went out into the fields; Jesus went out to the people."
Becky Retzloff, a junior at the University of Texas studying biology pre-med with a business minor, was selected as a delegate via her online application. She is a member of Lakewood United Methodist Church, Houston. The past two summers she has been a camp counselor at Servants in Faith and Technology (SIFAT) in Lineville, Alabama, directly working with youth from all over the South and community leaders from developing nations. “The Lord has instilled in her a passion for brothers and sisters all over the world and an eagerness to educate youth about all of their neighbors,” notes Eddie. She is also a small group leader for sophomore girls at an Austin area high school and a leader in a community focused on reaching out to freshman at The University of Texas at Austin.
Becky shares, "It will be such a joy to witness so many cultures, so many different backgrounds coming together to passionately worship the same God with no restraints and no boundaries. My vision, now more than ever, for the future of young people in the church, is an active involvement in the ministry of reconciliation between all of God's people. I hope that young people of the church would view the church not just as the building and people that they worship alongside on Sunday mornings, but as the Kingdom of God, all of his people serving and loving and being in community with one another all over the world."
She greatly anticipates her trip to the Philippines. "What a blessing and opportunity it would be to take what I would learn at this event back to His people, especially in Houston and Austin, showing the youth I work with on a daily basis how mighty and big His Kingdom reigns, all the way to the Philippines, encompassing His people from all over the world."