Thursday, July 16, 2009

Where Was the UYA?

For those who are confused, that's Universal Young Adult, and I couldn't find any of them last night at Genesis night. Now, before I really get going on my feelings, I want to say that I really hope I don't come across as a pretentious ass. The service last night had some good parts to it. I really liked that a lot, if not all, of the music was local to the people bringing it to us. I greatly affirm writing music within congregations that embody where the community comes from.
However, this was a great snapshot to me of The Episcopal Church, somewhat in light of what others have said about the UYA on this blog. Sitting in the back of the House of Deputies like I am is well and good because I can't see the people very well; we're all on the same level so our heads are the same height, and there are diocesan poles in the way. However, last night when Scott Gunn and I walked in (late. We made an appearance), there were people with glowsticks and it was kind of rock-type music. Our seating was ABOVE everyone else, so I could see out over the crowd, even if I couldn't see everything on stage close up.
I really liked that there was a poet at one point. I liked the artist going the whole time. But I was overstimulated, personally. The poet talked about ADD generation and our inability to slow down/unplug, but last night didn't encourage that. During the songs there was music (very performance oriented), video going, an artist being inspired and creating really neat things, and lights changing colors. I didn't know what to focus on. I really wouldn't have mind if someone had sounded a gong once or thrice and smoked the place up with incense (which is NOT the same as a smoke machine blowing onto the band) and let there be some still, calm, silence.
I liked the themes of the worship service, but really thought the Doctrine of Concomitance was missing from one part of the sermon, which is really my only comment on the sermon. However, in looking over the CROWD I had a few thoughts. First, I was transported back to the Chicago with Earth, Wind, and Fire concert I attended in early June. At that concert we were at the very top of the stadium similarly to the way I was at the top of the arena's seating last night. Now, given my experience with worship at a mega church in early high school, I thought, "I think this worship is intended to draw in the Universal Young Adult." But looking over the crowd, I couldn't find any. What I saw were a lot of people in the same general demographic that attended the EWF concert.
What REALLY hit me was that I didn't see (m)any people like me ageise, and I'm in the young adult crowd. And that's The Episcopal Church. I felt like Katrina Browne talks about when she read about the slavery in her family's history and how it'd been there right in front of her the whole time. The aging of The Episcopal Church has been right in front of me at St. Mark's, at Diocesan Convention, at St. Paul's On-the-Hill, and even at General Convention. But it hit me in seeing the boomers LOVING something that's new to them (playing with their glow sticks) that doesn't speak that much to me. I've DONE that. I came into the Episcopal Church (and this is me personally), in part to get away from that.
What last night was for me wasn't about liturgy. It wasn't how I worship, but greatly can appreciate that there are plenty of people who do worship that way. For me it was a call to action for evangelism, particularly to young adults. If anything last night could've been really overwhelming; stats about the number of clergy people under the age of 35 are shocking for someone who HOPES to be ordained by 27. General Convention has been daunting looking and seeing few youngish people. I don't want to sound agist, either. There is a lot of wisdom from people who've been in the church a long time....but a lot of times young adults get shafted.
We're not just cute, inspiring, or sweet for being here. One of the things that I've loved about the Young Adult Presence with EPF is that I think they're really recognizing us for our gifts. While the booth was mostly personned by people who are older, we were given guidelines and told what EPF was supporting and told to "GO!" We didn't have people waking us up, we didn't have people checking-up on our testimony to make it say what they wanted it to. The Official Youth Presence has seat and voice, but not a vote! EPF, however, has asked us to do our research and speak to what's important to us. We've been tracking legislation and reporting to our coordinators daily, but that's been just as much of a time for me to process than anything else. Definitely not a task-mastering thing. They got us here to participate.
And we've participated. We came and have been doing what we came to do. And I'm thankful. I don't know that I have much to add to Cat's great post (and Michelle's post) about recruiting young people, other than really take us seriously. Don't use us as tokens, but really recognize our gifts and talents. Give us special representation, if you think that's important, but let us be us in that context and let us fully participate. Step 1: don't invite us somewhere giving us seat and voice and then not actually let us vote. And please give us grace. Remember that we're young and not always "established." I'm 22 and just graduated from college. I have no idea what I'm going to do in seminary; for undergrad I didn't have to pay for much other than gas and car insurance (scholarship). Others I knew had to buy things. We don't often make much money and give when we can.
My next step is going to be proposing people pledge $1/wk to "be known to the treasturer" and then start subtly taking over.

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