Julia Reflects on General Convention Official Youth Presence
From time to time I will be publishing reflections from General Convention Official Youth Presence (GCOYP) participants. If you haven’t already read them, please take a few minutes to read the reflections from Sarah and Ariana.
GCOYP, which was part of this past summer’s General Convention of the Episcopal Church, was an especially sacred experience of the power of young people to make a difference and a glimpse into the dynamic future of the Episcopal Church.
Even if you weren’t at General Convention, these reflections allow you to witness these forces at work through our youth.
The following reflection is from Julia Robinson, Diocese of Ohio.
When I think back to General Convention, it’s almost hard to remember. Not because the memories are fading—they’re there, vividly. But it feels distant, in a strange way. I have to ask myself, did it really happen? We were constantly moving. Constantly. It’s all become one big blur. Now that I’m home, I feel like spinning on a Merry-Go-Round, watching the world fly past. I can recognize the slide and jungle gym because I know they’re there. My favorite play ground… twelve perfect, exhausting days in Indianapolis.
I’ve often said that at the Episcopal Youth Event last summer, I learned how to love – I learned what it truly means to be “Christian.” At General Convention, I learned how incredible it is to be part of the Episcopal community.
I realize now that I went into the entire process sort of cynically. After my training in April, I was less than enthused. I expected that when I got to Convention, angry, jaded adults fighting one another not because they love Jesus, but just because they want to be right would surround me.
I found something much different.
The first committee meeting I spoke at was in regard to a resolution about Open Table. I spoke in favor; another member of the Official Youth Presence and close friend of mine spoke against the resolution.
As I listened to the testimonies of all the people, I realized: It wasn’t an argument between two dueling viewpoints. It was a conversation about the best way to honor Jesus. Protect the sanctity of the body or share it with all of God’s children?
No one appealing to Program, Budget and Finance was trying to cut anyone down, and the committee members had the hard decision of deciding not who was the most legitimate, but how to facilitate groups, each as Holy as the next, with limited funds.
There was fierce determination from some people to truly “Welcome” people to the church as we declare we do on websites, posters and bumper stickers everywhere.
I was blown away. And I realized, that’s what’s truly different about putting a group of Episcopalians together. Generally speaking, we’re in it for the love.
On one of our last nights together, Emma, Official Youth Presence from Minnesota talked about how she knows she wants to go into politics, and she expected to come to Convention and get a lot done. She didn’t expect it to be “clean” because we’re so used to the dirty, slimey game of American politics.
I think it goes so much deeper than politics—it applies to so many aspects of our everyday lives. You shine a bad light on someone else to make yourself look better. Selfish intentions. We’re so used to not really trusting one another. But not in our Christian community—at the heart of it all is love.
Call me naïve, but at the end of the day, this is why I won’t really fear for the Episcopal Church. The world will always need love, and after my experiences at General Convention, I know the Episcopal Church is based on love.
I entered Convention a sixteen-year-old, not sure of who she was or what the world is really about. And I left, a sixteen-year-old, not sure of who I am or what this crazy world is all about. But I also left Convention one hundred percent positive what type of person I’d like to be.
Filed under: General Convention