GC2021 Young People's Request for Reconsideration of Dates
Dear members on the Commission on the General Conference,

We pray that each of you and your beloveds are healthy and safe.

On April 21, 2020, the United Methodist News published an article with proposed dates for the postponed General Conference. The article stated that, while the dates are not yet official, the General Conference is tentatively rescheduled for Aug. 31-Sept. 10, 2021. We, the young delegates of the 2020 General Conference, request that you reconsider the proposed Aug. 31-Sept. 10, 2021 dates for General Conference as disclosed by the Council of Bishops.

According to our United Methodist Social Principles, “[W]e urge development of policies that encourage inclusion of young people in decision-making processes and that eliminate discrimination and exploitation” (UMC Book of Discipline 2016, ¶ 162.D).

The youth and young adult delegates to General Conference who are of high school or college age are disproportionately based in the United States. The tentative dates present significant schedule conflicts for young people based on the academic calendar, which in the United States begins in the end of August. Many of our students will be beginning classes, orientations, and moving into their college towns. Requesting an extended leave at the beginning of the academic year may put these students at a scholastic disadvantage, or may be otherwise untenable. Furthermore, the date selection yields negative consequences for young delegates who are professors, teachers, and parents, as they prepare to care for their students and children at the beginning of the academic term.

Across the connection, annual conferences elected young people in unprecedented numbers to serve as delegates at the upcoming General Conference. This increase in youth and young adult voices to the body should be understood as a desire from annual conferences for young people to be involved in the decision making body of our denomination, and the intentionality of Annual Conferences on this matter should be respected in the course of selecting new General Conference dates. Additionally, the setting of the General Conference dates will not only directly impact young adult participation at the General Conference level, but will ultimately impact young adult participation at every level of governance as most Annual Conference and Jurisdictional Conference dates will be rescheduled according to the General Conference dates. We, therefore, urge you to heed the body’s direction.

We acknowledge the complexity of planning and preparing for an event this large and trust that you will take into consideration the voices of the young people of our beloved church who want to fully engage with this General Conference. We, as a denomination and general conference, must value the voices of young people. We must not schedule dates for a consequential General Conference at the beginning of the academic year in the U.S. or during final exam periods for many institutions across the connection. If the Commission chooses these proposed dates, it is discarding and marginalizing the voices of young people.

We urge you to choose alternative dates that will encourage widespread participation from youth and young adults from across the connection. We understand that we are living in the midst of uncertain and unprecedented times, and we appreciate you taking the time to consider our concerns before making your final decision.

With gratitude,

Ann Jacob (Lay delegate, Eastern Pennsylvania)
J.J. Warren (Lay delegate, Upper New York)
Jessica Vittorio (Lay delegate, North Texas)
Alejandra Salemi (GC Young People’s Address Speaker, Florida)
Carlene Fogle-Miller (Lay delegate, Florida)

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