In 2008, the 218th General Assembly voted to change the name of Youth Advisory Delegates (YADS) to Young Adult Advisory Delegates (YAADS), and this summer, that name could be changed again.
The Synod of the Covenant has forwarded an overture (020) to the 221st General Assembly, meeting June 14-21 in Detroit, Mich., to not only change the name of the YAADs, but to give them the right to vote during plenary sessions.
According to the 2014 General Assembly manual, a YAAD is a person between ages 17-23 who has been appointed by his or her presbytery to attend the assembly.
Currently, YAADs are voting members of the assembly’s committees. During the GA plenary sessions, however, they only have the privilege of speaking to the issues being debated, not voting on them. The YAADs may be “polled” prior to an assembly vote to advise the commissioners.
The synod’s overture would not only allow the young adults to vote during the plenary meetings, it would change their name to Youth Adult Commissioners (YAC).
“If we want to be true to goals of inclusiveness and representation within the larger church, giving the young adults voice and vote would be a step in that direction. Presently the YAADs do have voice and vote in the committees. This overture would acknowledge those gifts for the assembly meeting as well,” the overture’s rationale claims.
It continues that changing the name would show that the denomination “welcome[s], embrace[s] and listen[s] to our younger Presbyterian generations. They have been unintentionally disenfranchised and unrepresented on our councils, and hence, we are opening ourselves up to the voices of the future being able to discern and vote in the present. The sooner we make the young adults in our church voting stakeholders, the more they will feel welcomed and valued. The sooner we recognize their leadership, the sooner our young adults will have ownership in the life and decisions of the church.”
The official GA web site can be found here. The Layman’s coverage of the 2014 GA can be accessed here.
This is not surprising, in a denomination that years ago failed to see the incongruity of electing teenagers to an office called “elder”. But this rather important change seems to have been passively accepted by most church members. When my congregation recently elected a new class of elders that included a high school girl, one principled older member was the sole “nay” vote (I couldn’t vote, as I’m no longer a member).
Oh, good grief. Why don’t we just go ahead and let them chair all the committees in the churches and preach as well. I don’t even think they should have to go to seminary. Let’s be fully inclusive!
The name changes are silliness, meaningful only to the politically correct. We could re-name them “Young Elders Serving Meaningful Ecclesiastical Niches” – or YES MEN for short.
And while I really don’t care by which acronym they are known, giving them a vote is purely a political maneuver. While many are insightful and completely capable of standing on their own consciences, the wisdom of years of experience attendant to the role of elder is lost in the exuberant idealism (not always realism) of the impressionable youth. My concern is less over the 23 year olds having the vote than the pressure which will be brought to bear on the 17 and 18 year olds to conform to the wishes of those setting the agenda. There is a natural tendency for youth to want to please tho set asking care of them, and this demographic fits nicely into the category of “impressionable.”
Wise thinking like this calls for great celebration…….let’s all raise our “Red SOLO Cups” at the 218th General Assembly. (sigh)
Correction: 221st General Assembly.
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