Sunday, July 12, 2009
Proud morning for youth in House of Bishops
July 11, 2009
This morning Bishop Leo Frade escorted the president of our diocesan Youth Commission, Michael Sahdev, and a young woman from the Diocese of Southwest Virginia, Grace Aheron, to the front of he House of Bishops for their presentation from the Official Youth Presence.
After introducing himself, Michael got the bishops’ attention with, “Please hear my words and put them into action.”
“Too many Christians are no longer fishers of people, but keepers of the aquarium,” he said. Citing statistics on the decline of Episcopal Church membership, he noted that only 21 per cent of Episcopal churches say their members are involved “quite a bit” or “a lot” in inviting new members.
“Not only does this hurt us as a church, but it hurts the rest of the world,” he said. “People who needed the Episcopal Church will fall deeper into sin and never know Christ.”
Young people especially need the church, he said. “Youth are looking for something that will make them whole, something that will lift then up—why not let it be Christ!”
He suggested putting “The Episcopal Church welcomes you” signs “everywhere—billboards, bus stops, malls, anywhere people will see them.”
“It’s time we leave the safety of the aquarium, and not just go out into the world, but dive into it and make a big splash!”
Evangelism should be like prayer, he said—“an ordinary, routine thing that is just part of being a Christian.”
Involving and keeping new members, especially youth, he said, depends upon “love and personal connection.”
He urged the bishops to “inspire us to share the Good News, lead us on our journey into the new frontier, empower us to be fishers of people. Listen to our call, keep youth as a priority in this church and step up our commitment to evangelize. Then I can promise you the future is brighter than ever. Help us not to be just keepers of the aquarium, but fishers of all people.”
The bishops responded to his presentation with an enthusiastic standing ovation.
In her presentation Aheron offered the bishops her “unique perspective” as an 18-year-old woman, and reminded them of the optimism that young people bring to the church.
“This is a generation of empowered young men and women,” she said. “I have seen the Holy Spirit transform teenagers into instruments of God’s grace.”
She invited the bishops to “come and worship God with reckless abandon.”