Official Youth Presence addresses the House of Bishops

Posted Jul 10, 2012

[EpiscoYouth] Nora Vinas, Diocese of Southeast Florida, and Patrick Melendez, Diocese of California, July 7 addressed the House of Bishops with their prophetic message of hope for the Episcopal Church. They delivered the same message to the House of Deputies and the Episcopal Church Women triennial gathering.

General Convention Address
Nora Vinas, Diocese of Southeast Florida

Buenas tardes, mi nombre es Nora Vinas, soy de la diocesis del sureste de la florida y estoy con la presencia oficial de jovenes.

Good afternoon, I am Nora Vinas and I’m from the Diocese of Southeast Florida and I’m with the General Convention Official Youth Presence (GCOYP).

As a youth this is how I live out the Five Marks of Mission.

When working with youth I proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom by letting them know, we have a loving and forgiving God. At youth events we provide them with a community of kids who understand their situations and reassure them they are saved by Jesus Christ.

I lead by example by helping nurture new believers; when serving at my provincial youth event last week, I found courage and strength to share my story, which inspired others to do so as well. And in just seven days the group of strangers whom I embarked on a road of reconciliation and transformation with, became my family.

At youth events I put the needs of others before mine because I know how good it feels when loving service is given to me. But most importantly, I rejoice in being an instrument of God.

I’ve met angels who empower, support, and encourage youth to transform unjust structures of society because we are all children of God. Just last week, my provincial youth event educated us on the injustices happening in the United States; past and present. We realized, we can be the change everyone is waiting for and ready to take everything we learned back to our diocese.

I strive to sustain and renew the life of the earth; by making sure mission work and recycling is part of my life.

My life was transformed through youth events…I found God, and all because my diocese had the programs to quench my thirst. Programs like happening, camp, provincial youth event, episcopal youth event and so many others are the way the Episcopal Church will stay alive.

Through these events young people are being taught a Christian community is ESSENTIAL for one’s spiritual growth and that….That motivates us to deepen our roots in the church.

Youth events have taught me to speak up even when my voice trembles and that the weaker I get, the stronger I will become. Youth events are the best way young people can evangelize, because we are able to share our stories and invite and welcome others.

El senor a guiado mis pies, a tomado mis manos en la de él, y a moldiado mi Corazon para hacer su voluntad y no la mia. Y de eso se tratan los eventos de jovenes.

God has guided my feet…taken my hand in his… and molded my heart to do his will and not mine. And that…is exactly what youth events are

I now challenge you to support the youth, continue forming leaders, and the church will thrive.

Reality is: We the youth, may be the church of tomorrow, but we are already making a difference today and we are here to stay.

Address to General Convention
Patrick Melendez, Diocese of California

Good afternoon, I am Patrick Melendez of the Official Youth Presence and I am from the Diocese of California. First, I would like to thank the House of Deputies for this opportunity to speak before you.

My hope and dream for the Episcopal Church is for it to be a vibrant family for all and to increase this family. To achieve this goal it is important to protect and even increase youth and children’s ministries, as well as work to love all the members of our church.

Our church is in decline and the budget is tight. Youth and Children’s ministries, however, are a major key to reversing this trend. In my own parish we have witnessed this transformation.

When my family joined Christ Church Alameda it was an aging church in decline. But, a visionary assistant priest convinced the parish to put time and money into the children and youth ministries. We call it our “Youth Covenant” and the words of the Covenant are written on the church wall for all to see.

It has taken several years, but now our church is full of families. Even our elders comment on how much they enjoy the energy of the young people. This energy spills out beyond our parish into outreach. And we have been renewed. Families often choose a church based on
what it can provide for their children. Many stay because of what it has provided for their

Diocesan and church wide Youth programs such as Happening and the Episcopal Youth Event (EYE) provided a different kind of family. These programs provide connections with other youth beyond our immediate faith community and thus create a new larger family. These relationships are necessary as they will provide the framework on which these future leaders will build the Episcopal Church of tomorrow.

We will need to grow our family. We need to look for ways to express our faith. I understand that evangelism may be a little uncomfortable, but it is a necessary part of being Christian. With new members our family, we will obtain the new ideas and the
financial stability we need to live out our calling.

Families are made of individuals. They may interpret the word of God differently, yet they are still members of the family. I love that the Episcopal Church doesn’t tell me what to think or believe. Unfortunately, this creates a lot of the discord within our church family, particularly with respect to lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender issues. I hope that we can support our LGBT members in their quest for equality while loving those who have difficulty lending this support. In a vibrant, healthy family everyone is important and everyone counts. And now back to Nora.