The World Bank & The AME Church : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

A related thread on this BB takes a serious look about integrating Young Adults in our AME ministries. I wholeheartedly support the innovative recommedations which have been proposed. I would like to extend that particular discussion by proposing a somewhat novel idea relating to the age composition of the Bishoprick.

The World Bank operates a program, Young Professionals Program, designed to recruit professionals into demanding and rewarding positions. The most important entry criteria is you cannot apply if you are over age 30. It was put in place to make sure the Bank would always have a fresh crop of young and intellectually gifted Ph.D.'s to assist in mitigating world poverty and promoting sound economic development strategies. If we are truly serious about wanting to make young adults a permanent fixture in our ministries it would seem to me that we should empower these same individuals with meaningful and responsible positions in our churches commensurate with their skills, talents, abilities and most importantly, committment to Kingodom-building & Gospel work. Why not for instance, set aside one member of a local church's steward board and trustee board who could not be older than say 30? Why not require that one of the General Officer positions be reserved for an AME professional under the age of 30? Finally, why not reserve at least one Bishop, under age 30, to serve a fixed term until he/she reaches age forty. This position could in theory rotate to the next qualified "Young Adult Bishop".

Now I know some of you are pondering, "isn't this unneccessary since the AME Disciple recognizes jr. stewards & jr. trustees"? To that question I simply respond, yes, but why should talented young adults be treated as "jrs"? How can you say that a young and gifted surgeon of 28 years of age or an accomplished partner in a law firm (age 30) is "jr" in church but clearly a power player among his/her peers? Retaining young adults requires giving more responsibility beyond the perfunctory roles they are accustomed to (i.e., youth minister, SS teacher, etc.).

Another question might be, "doesn't your maximum age requirement promote age discrimination"? My response would be this is no more age discrimination than our current policy of requiring mandatory retirement by Bishops once they reach age 72. If we have a exit age policy it would only be symmetrical policy to have an entry age requirement. If young adults are leaders in their respective work endeavors they should also be assuming leadership in our AME churches. And, yes, that means all the way to the top at the Bishops Bench. I don't know for sure but I can only imagine that if we had a Bishop who was trained at one of the top seminaries with a minimum of 5 years pastoral experience and under age 30, we might find fewer of our young adult members leaving our congregations in search of church homes where they feel more "welcomed" and appreciated. Just a random thought. QED

-- Anonymous, December 18, 2001


To add, it would also help if our churches would adopt a time limit on how long members can serve as officers (stewarts/trustees). Meaning, members can only serve (by appointment of re-election) as a stewart/trustee for let's say four (4) consecutive years. After four (4) years, they would have to "sit-out" for at least 2-4 years before they can be appointed/re-elected again. There is a very prominent church in Chicago that has adopted this plan (a non-AME church), and it really does work. The members do not just "sit out and sit down". They are encouraged to get involved with other ministries of the church. This prevents people from being typecast as officers and it allows "everyone" the opportunity to serve the church in an official capacity. There are some AME churches in Chicago where people have served as Stewarts/Trustees for 20-40 consecutive years. I am sure these people are doing an excellent job, particularly since they are being either appointed or re-elected year after year. However, this process alienates not only the young people but it alienates older adults who are members of churches but never get the opportunity to serve as officers.

-- Anonymous, December 18, 2001

I must applaud your suggestion for using young adults in a more responsible way in our churches. There is an AME Church in this city that has a well rounded young adult ministry, which has been in existance for over ten years. Their first president, was about 30 years old and was a vice president of Sun Trust Bank. He was also on the stewardship and finance committee. Others served on the stewardess board and as stewards, etc. They began with a choir and ushers. Their project,which has now out grown itself, is a yearly dinner concert. They also have workshops and retreats not only for themselves, but for at risk children in the church and communuity. They were able to either donate or have donated (from their companies) computers and other equipment for the youth to use. Three times a week, they tutor not only children in the church but those in the community as well.

Another AME Church in my community, changes steward pro tem's monthly, so that everyone gets a chance to serve in that capacity, and there are young adults on that board, as well. The reason I'm shining the light on those two churches is because they both are full of young adults and there are "many children".

Our new pastor is heading in that direction. Some new life came about just last night, thank God, and I perceive that some procreation will be occurring in "due" time. All of us know that there are folk sitting on steward boards and other boards that believe it's their spot until they die. One of my friends said to me that if you don't pacify them, they'll "close up their pocketbooks." SAD!

Brother Matthews, I would to God that we could get your vision instilled in the constituency - but, look how long it took to elect a woman as bishop.

So, right now, let's reach them, teach them, use them, and then by prayer and supplication and God's grace, we can keep them.

-- Anonymous, December 18, 2001

I agree with the goals, but have some problems with the method of reaching that goal. I think the composition of the board should represent the composition of the church. The average age on my Steward Board is 37, and the Trustee Board is 47. That is considerably younger than most of the churches I am familiar with. I also have a Jr. Steward Board. If anyone on the Senior Board does not perform up to expectations, I replace them with someone from the Junior Board. I also have a board of advisors from the YPD. This works for us.


Pastor Paris

-- Anonymous, December 18, 2001

I, too, have a problem with absolutes. It would be impossible to do in my church because of the number of members in my church, which is 34, and the average age of the membership, which is 60. I am the youngest member at 31, and pastor, and my other members who are under 50 (have 4 who are active) are all engaged in the life of the church. No one sits around me without putting "their hand to the gospel plough."

There is a way to intregate younger persons in leadership positions and use the laws and language of the church to do it and it would be fair well across the board. At present, the discipline provides that a steward or trustee may be 18 or older. We could mandate that at least one steward and trustee be between the ages of 18-30, just like one delegate from the annual conference be between those ages. Of course, use the Jr. Steward Board as training ground and elevate the juniors when a steward is vacated for whatever reason. Class leaders do not have age requirements, make some young adults class leaders. There are ways to do it inside the system we presently have that can work if we use what we already have.

-- Anonymous, December 19, 2001

well most of you know this vision would not work in my church, the average age on the steward baoard is 65 and up and the pastor I am sorry to say has not trained any of them. I am and have been on the board 5 years. There is no spirit on the board some of the members use it to socialize and I know that I am a good steward, I offer prayer and support to the pastor but he only wants a pay chech. The trustees ar mostly over 70 and some are ill, but out of tradition they are voted in again and again. I am fasting and praying God will send a man filled with the Holy ghost and have a vision torecruit young adults into the church, Training does not seem to be the business of the day, most of them have the idea that since they have been members of the church for over 40 years they should hold an office. I don't know how long I can stay here. Please Pray for me and my church.

-- Anonymous, December 20, 2001

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