Bishop Kammerer said at the latest GBOD meeting, “At a time when the rest of the church is having a difficult time figuring out how to be a global church, the young people are living into it and showing us the way.”
One Lord, One Church, One World.
After returning home from Berlin and Woltersdorf, Germany I have a renewed sense of United Methodist connectionalism and enthusiasm for young people in our Church worldwide.
From the 21st of July until 26th of July (I stayed until the 30th of July for the Division on Ministries with Young People’s Annual Meeting), I had the unique and amazing opportunity to be a part of a global event that gave voice to young people around the globe. Global Young People’s Convocation and Legislative Assembly was a time where young people from around our global connection came together for worship, ministry, fellowship, leadership development, and time for legislation.
We all came together for an amazing time of worship on the first night where we all needed to use translators to understand the service. People spoke in their native languages and it was amazing. English was not the only language used…we had translation into English, русский, Deutsch, Français, and Português. It was a different experience, as an English speaker, to wait for the translation. But my favorite part about it were the jokes. Depending on which language the speaker was speaking there would be waves of laughter, because the jokes were being translated and everyone got them at slightly different times, SO GREAT!!!!
While at Convo, we went on cultural excursions to places in Berlin.
We first were able to worship in the historic Berliner Dom. The entire GYPC-LA body went and had an ecumenical service that was opened up to the community of Berlin. We had a youth worker from Berlin (I forget what denomination she was from) speak. Then we continued our worship experience with a Thomas Mass. There were a ew different stations set up around the Dom and we were able to move freely between them During registration time people were able to create a “wall” and this was transported to the Church. We were able to lay our laments on that wall. Write prayer requests, whatever we needed to say. There was another place where we were able to light candles, write little notes of praise, have a special blessing by one of the Bishops, and look at pictures of both pain and happiness and reflect on them. In addition to that, there was an area where we sang Taize chants. Now, to give you the setting of the Berliner Dom, it is a huge, high ceilinged Cathedral-like building…thus the acoustics-AMAZING!!!! When the Taize chants began they brought my right back to my Taize community from last summer. I really felt like we were truly the Body of Christ. We all might have found worship in a different sense while there, but yet we were all together as one body, worshipping together.
After worship time at the Dom, we all departed and went on cultural excursions to better identify with the history of Berlin. I went to a GDR remand prison called Hohenschönhausen. This prison was used until 1990. “The list of those arrested ranged from the leaders of the 17 June uprising in 1953 to Jehovah’s Witnesses. But many others also spent months in the tomb-like cells, from reform communists such as Walter Janka, head of the Aufbau publishing house, to politicians fallen in disgrace, such as former GDR Foreign Minister Georg Dertinger, a CDU party member, and even one disgraced ex-SED Politbüro member, Paul Merker. Moreover, this period – long before the Berlin Wall – saw the Ministry of State Security (MfS) actually kidnapping critics of the SED Party who were in the West and bringing them to the Hohenschönhausen prison – the most famous case, perhaps, being Walter Linse, a West Berlin lawyer, kidnapped near his home in 1952 and executed a year later in Moscow.” (http://en.stiftung-hsh.de/document.php?subcat_id=CAT_253&recentcat=CAT_233&back=1).
The second day of touring, I went to Sachsenhausen – Oranienburg. This was an old concentration camp that was used by Nazi Germany. It was built by concentration camp prisoners and then was used until liberated in 1945. Some of the odd things that we learned about the camp was that certain buildings are still being utilized today. German police train their forces there and use some of refurbished buildings. It was odd and somber experience to visit the camp. We all had been at the Estrel earlier in the day and were joking around/having fun with one another on the bus ride to Oranienburg. Once we arrived the entire mood of our group changed. We were no longer laughing and joking around with one another. I think it began to sink in that people, many people, had died in this very place not that long ago. We saw the barracks were the prisoners slept, the work they were required to do, and also the places where the prisoners were killed. All that I could do to reconcile this to my mind was think that this needed to be remembered as not to repeat this in the future.
After our excursions each night we went to a local congregation and shared in a meal with them as well as a “vespers” style service. Each group, regardless of the UMC, had the same liturgy used. So it only demonstrated more the idea of “unity” in the body of Christ. We might have been in different congregations, but we were all still united.
In all, I feel like GYPC-LA was encouraging to young leaders around our connection. It is a rare occurrence when you get together over 300 young leaders from over 20 different countries to discuss how ministry is occurring within their own cultural context. We were able to bring voice to issues that were concerning to young people worldwide!!! While we did not always agree with one another on every issue (i.e. legislative assembly time) we respected one another and still loved on one another. To say that to be “One body” we need to think the exact same way is false logic, I believe. To me, there is unity in our diversity. “Red, and yellow, black and white…all are precious in Jesus’ sight.” This was only made more clear at GYPC. Different languages…different cultures…different styles of worship…but all for the same thing…to Glorify God. The last night’s cultural celebration allowed for this to truly be felt. Whether we were swimming and skiing with the NEJ, 2-steppin and ‘Single ladiesing” it with the Texans, doing a dance with the FIlipinos, rappin’ our names with the Africans, finding a partner with the Russians, doing squats with the Germans…it didn’t matter, it was amazing sharing our cultures with one another…
I feel honored and privileged to not only have been a participant in this event but to have also been on the planning team. There were many nights that I only got 3 hours of sleep, but it was more than worth it and I would do it again in a heartbeat. To all my fellow GYPC’ers…it was really my honor and pleasure to have met you all. I am changed for the better because i had the opportunity to meet you. I hope and pray that each one of us is able to bring home to our conferences, jurisdictions, central conferences, etc. the love that was shared with one another in Berlin. Let’s keep modeling what a truly global Church could look and act like. I know that I’ve made close friendships with people from around the world that will last a lifetime. For this I am grateful.
Please add any quotes that you can vividly remember from the weekend…
“I’m a tosa, tosa, tosa…TOSA!!!”
“Now, let’s remember what the covenant says about that…”
“I am Bethany Amey, delegate number 238, Northeast Jurisdicition, DMYP member.”
“Swim, swim, swim, swim, swim swim….SHARK!!!”