Sixteen young people, drawn from every province in the Episcopal Church, have been selected as the Official Youth Presence for the 80th General Convention. The convention is scheduled for July 7-14 at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore, Maryland (Episcopal Diocese of Maryland). The group gathered in Baltimore from March 31-April 3 for orientation and training.
The Official Youth Presence was established by Resolution B045 of the 1982 General Convention and has had seat and voice in the House of Deputies since 1997.
“I am eager to welcome the members of the Official Youth Presence to the House of Deputies again this year, and I look forward to their participation in our deliberations,” House of Deputies President Gay Clark Jennings said. “I am especially grateful to Deputy Devon Anderson of Minnesota and alternate deputy Nelson Serrano Poveda of San Joaquin for their work in helping to select the young people who will serve at the 80th General Convention, and to Deputy Anne Kitch of Newark and former deputy Sophie Kitch-Peck for participating in the group’s orientation and training.”
The following youth, listed in order by province, were selected to serve as the Official Youth Presence at General Convention:
- Chawanzi Muwina, Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, Province I
- Rebecca Wallace-West, Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts, Province I
- Taylor Connell, Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, Province II
- Lovensky Elysée, Episcopal Diocese of Haiti, Province II
- Jessica Miller, Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem, Province III
- Eleanor Graham, Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee, Province IV
- Benisha Brudy, Episcopal Diocese of Missouri, Province V
- Eleanor Zaher, Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis, Province V
- Devyn Hubbs, Episcopal Church in Colorado, Province VI
- Norah Zoller, Episcopal Diocese of South Dakota, Province VI
- Alexander Colby, Episcopal Diocese of Texas, Province VII
- Kyle Skinner, Episcopal Diocese of Dallas, Province VII
- Adam Linari, Episcopal Diocese of California, Province VIII
- Jonah Mackenzie, Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, Province VIII
- Leydy Rodríguez García, Episcopal Diocese of Honduras, Province IX
- Yojani Hedman, Episcopal Diocese of Honduras, Province IX
Adult mentors for the Official Youth Presence will be:
- Myra Garnes, Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, Province II
- Caleb Nelson Amaker, Episcopal Diocese of Washington, Province III
- Cookie Cantwell, Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina, Province IV
- Ashley Simpson, Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina, Province IV
- Joshawa Trader, Episcopal Diocese of West Missouri, Province VII
- The Rev. Karen Schlabach, Episcopal Diocese of Kansas, Province VII
- The Rev. Israel Portilla Gómez, Episcopal Diocese of Colombia, Province IX
In-person participation subject to U.S. visa approval.
“I am thrilled to have these amazing young leaders serving as the Official Youth Presence,” said the Rev. Shannon Kelly, director of The Episcopal Church Department of Faith Formation. “The church has a lot to learn from young leaders as we look forward to what is to come and how we as a church can respond. I look forward to learning from them, hearing about their passions, and walking with them as we all continue to learn and grow together.”
Official Youth Presence coordination consultant Missy Morain of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles is working with Episcopal Church Faith Formation staff members, including Kelly and department associate David Stickley.
Applications were reviewed by a committee that included Amaker, Cantwell, Garnes, Portilla Gómez, Schlabach, Trader, and Morain; Anderson and Serrano Poveda, both appointed by Jennings; the Rev. H. Mark Smith of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts; and Caren Miles of the Episcopal Diocese of California.
The General Convention is The Episcopal Church’s highest temporal authority and the largest gathering of Episcopalians from across the church. It meets every three years to set policies and priorities for the church’s mission and ministry. Originally scheduled before the pandemic for July 2021, the 80th General Convention was postponed one year.
Photo, top: Members of the Official Youth Presence for The Episcopal Church’s 80th General Convention gathered for training in Baltimore, Maryland, March 31-April 3. / The Rev. Shannon Kelly