The Diocese of Chicago will be electing a bishop. Laura, one of our undergraduates, went to one of the presentation sessions. Here is her response:
“If you don’t have young people in your church, you’re gonna die. If you don’t have somebody making noise in the back so you can’t hear the sermon, you’re just gonna die.” ~Sabune
“I think the single most important constituency in this election is going to be the people who aren’t sitting in this room, and that’s people ages 5-19.” ~Safford
“Youths are not the future of the church, they are the church of today.” ~Gould, Lee, Lind
Who are we? These nebulous youths. Are we the beneficiaries of youth ministry, campus ministry, Sunday school, youth groups? Sitting in an audience of over thirty people, I am intensely aware of the fact that I am the only one under 40 in the room. One after the other, the bishop candidates tell me what the youth need and how we relate to the church. They all think we need to be included; some have ideas about how. Strikingly absent from their discussion is any coherent message about what we have to offer the church. Questions about the deacons and staff are phrased, “What are their roles?” while questions about youth ministry are phrased, “What is the bishop’s role in…?” What about me, I want to ask them. Surely you must have a job for a student, with energy and passion, every bit as devoted to her church and congregation as those with more settled lives. What role is there in the church for an activist, a person still actively challenging her faith and the church in which she lives it? What role, for someone without a family or a job to tie her down? What role for a child of God who still remembers her baptism and conversion? What role, for those of us in communities where the peace and love of God could never be more necessary? For me, the answer the next bishop of Chicago ultimately gives will be powerfully indicative of the kind of church we want to have. May God hold us ever in the palm of His hand.