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Young Voices

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12 NIV

The United Methodist Annual Conference for New England was almost a week ago, but in the days since, I have been rejoicing in the Word, worship, and resolutions of the holy time of gathering.

While I don't have an average age for this year's conference, in a 2020 report by the Lewis Center, the largest group of clergy for New England is the 55-72 age group. My guestimate is that the same could be said for the lay attendees. We're an aging church.

But one of the times of rejoicing was the ordination of the young elders, deacons, local pastors, and certified lay ministers. In hearing the growing number of the disillusioned and unchurched, these folks see it not as a reason to be discouraged but as an opportunity. They understand the challenges and calling of Jesus in Matthew 9:37, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few." They have seen the fertile fields ripe for gathering.

Their enthusiasm and passion were also apparent in the resolutions brought before the church. We heard their young voices in motions for greater inclusivity in the church and their calls for the conference to condemn human rights violations. All the motions were approved overwhelmingly by the voting body.

The church today may look different than that of the early church. But since its beginning, the church has been challenged to face the changes of the world around us bravely and unwaveringly in the gospel. Sometimes the changes are to face the reality of ideas that have existed since the beginning but are largely ignored because the truths are brutal. However, many times when there have been changes in the church, it's the result of youth–Jesus Christ is the perfect example.

Paul's exhortation to Timothy is as important today, perhaps even more so than it was then. We witness and affirm the calling of youth and rejoice in these new workers to the field.

Father, we thank you for the workers in the field, those clergy, and laity who have responded to your call. The harvest is fertile, and much to be done in sharing your inclusive love. We ask blessings on all your workers, but especially those starting out. Give them the boldness, courage, and strength for the field. We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen


Pastor Tim

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