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New NCC Stewards Program Offers Young Adults Ecumenical Experience

Pictured (top to bottom): Cyreeta Collins of Jamaica, N.Y.; Motoe Yamada of Berkeley, Calif., and Evan Jones of San Antonio, Texas.

August 21, 2003, NEW YORK CITY - Katherine Parker, 25, of Ames, Iowa, is looking forward to networking with others who are organizing for change around faith issues. Grant Kinney, 21, of Alma, Mich., is seeking ministry that is "outside the box" and that reflects ecumenical compassion.

Katherine and Grant are two of 10 young adults from across the United States selected as stewards for the National Council of Churches’ November 2003 General Assembly in Jackson, Miss., where they will "serve in the background and observe up close the deliberative work of ecumenism."

The annual meeting brings together some 250 delegates from the NCC’s 36 Protestant, Orthodox and Anglican member denominations for business and fellowship, small-group discussion of current issues, daily worship and Bible study.

This year, delegates will elect new NCC officers for 2004-2007 and install them along with the Council’s President for 2004-2005 -- the Rev. Dr. Thomas L. Hoyt, Bishop of the Fourth District of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Shreveport, La.

Minister Cyreeta CollinsTwo of the stewards - Cyreeta Collins, 31, from Jamaica, N.Y., and Adrian Evans, 30, of Mobile, Ala. - are "CME’s." In her application, Ms. Evans expressed her delight at Bishop Hoyt’s NCC presidency and said, "I intend to be in attendance regardless to celebrate this achievement with him, for our Church is extremely proud."

The Stewards Program, new this year, is the latest addition to a wider NCC program of support for young adult leadership in the ecumenical movement. The activities of the NCC’s longstanding Ecumenical Young Adult Ministries Team include a biennial "Come to the Feast" conference, which draws 300-plus participants.

Motoe YamadaThe NCC Constitution specifies that at least one in eight of each member denomination’s delegates to the Assembly should be age 18 to 30. A Young Adult Caucus was formed at last year’s Assembly. On November 3, a pre-Assembly event will give young adults opportunity to participate in common prayer, ecumenical learning and visioning, and dialogue with leadership of the NCC and of Church World Service, the global humanitarian agency of the NCC's 36 member denominations.

The stewards’ work - assisting with hospitality, registration, audio-visual and technology, communications, and General Assembly - will be complemented by their interactions with national church leaders and their experience of an Assembly’s rich interdenominational and multicultural environment.

Evan JonesEvan Jones, 25, of San Antonio, Texas, is so eager to be part of an NCC General Assembly that he wrote in his application, "I would clean toilets if it meant that I got to listen and learn from this body. It would be an honor to be there."

The 10 stewards’ expenses will be paid by special donations from three individuals, who designated their contributions in support of expanded opportunities for young adults to take leadership in ecumenical endeavors, said the Rev. Patrice L. Rosner, NCC Associate General Secretary for Education.

Their selection, from a pool of 20 applicants, was based on a detailed application. During the Assembly, each will interview Assembly participants with particular expertise - for example, interfaith relations or education ministries - and will write a 500-word essay on their experiences as a steward.

The stewards will spend November 2-7 in Jackson, Miss., for a schedule that includes orientation and debriefing, the Young Adult Pre-Assembly Event and the November 4-6 Assembly itself.

The stewards - all active in their own churches - hail from five denominations. They are:

Christian Church (Disciples of Christ): Emily Ruff, of Central Christian Church, Virginia Beach, Va.

Christian Methodist Episcopal: Cyreeta Collins of Tabernacle Community C.M.E. Church, Jamaica, N.Y., and Adrian Evans of Taylor Chapel CME Church, Mobile, Ala.

Roman Catholic: Maria Consuelo Garcia of St. Mary Magadalen Church, San Antonio, Texas. She learned of the Stewards’ Program through her part-time work at a United Methodist Church.

United Church of Christ: Stephanie Alyn Templin of Reading, Pa., a member of St. John’s UCC in Gibraltar, Pa.

United Methodist: Evan Jones of Travis Park UMC, San Antonio, Texas; Grant M. Kinney of the United Methodist Church of Cadillac, Alma, Mich.; Katherine Parker of Ames, Iowa, a member of Mt. Tamalpais UMC, Mill Valley, Calif.; Melissa Porter of Haygood UMC, Virginia Beach, Va., and Motoe Yamada of Buena Vista United Methodist Church, Berkeley, Calif.


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