Definition of Youth, Young Adult in The Episcopal Church

Definition of Youth, Young Adult in The Episcopal Church

May 24, 2019

The canonical definition of adult in The Episcopal Church who has voice and vote at a parish meeting is a Communicant in Good Standing at least 16 years old. These people are also eligible to run for Convention Delegate (in most dioceses) and as General Convention Deputy. 

These are the functioning definitions used by the Department of Faith Formation for The Episcopal Church (meaning they are not canonical, just our functional definition):

Youth

  • 12 to 18 years old 
  • still eligible to be enrolled in high school
  • considered to be a minor legally
  • Church-wide events and gatherings typically are for minimum age of 15 or 16 depending on the event due to travel

Young Adult

  • 18 to 30 years old 
  • no longer eligible to be enrolled in high school
  • legally considered an adult (mostly)
  • target constituents for Young Adult and Campus Ministry initiatives 

The are many ways in which the Church subdivides this group for legal and safety reasons. Youth Ministries requires adult leaders with responsibilities for minors to be a minimum of 25 years old. We do allow some exceptions for 21-24 year olds when specifically supervised by another adult of the preferred age range with experience. But many hotels and auto rental companies will not conduct transactions with folks less than 25 years old. 

Some of our programs are different age ranges due to the specific content of the program. For instance, most of our Province IX dioceses are located in cultures that do not recognize “young adult” as any different than youth. But for them “youth” is equivalent to 16 to 26-ish. Thus we have adjusted the participant age range for the upcoming Evento de Jóvenes Episcopales accordingly. 

The Episcopal Church's Constitutions and Canons have some specific details. Click here to view them. Notice, in particular, Canon 17: Of Regulations Respecting the Laity. There are also sections for Vestries and Bishop’s Committees as well as for Diocesan level leadership. There are stipulations regarding compliance with state and federal statutes and the fiduciary responsibilities required of vestries often are aired as the clause which prevents elected leadership younger than 18. In many states you can simply record the legal minor as being recused from any votes on business transactions to be in compliance with state law.

Additionally, it is important that you consult a diocesan chancellor to be certain of local legalities. 

Questions? Email Bronwyn Clark Skov, Director of the Department of Faith Formation.