GCOYP: Departing with a Renewed Passion for God
General Convention ended on July 13th, the Official Youth Presence (GCOYP) left on the 12th. My mother, a deputy, kept me in Austin for the extra day, so I had the honor of being the only youth in the entire Official Youth Presence section of the House of Deputies. It was odd to be in a place so empty in a room so full.
I joined the GCOYP because of a passion for government, but I have left with a passion for God like I have never experienced before. To witness the whole church in action was a truly awe-inspiring thing. From worship services to legislative sessions, I could see God working through all of us. My faith was revived. Not only that, but I finally felt I understood my church. I now know our stance on issues I had never even before considered. I know how our governance works. I know our shared history. I have managed to double the amount of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry sermons I have heard, and am eternally astonished at his ability to stay engaging even when he speaks for twice as long as usual.
I can honestly say that the myriad new experiences that made up GCOYP have changed my life forever. Some are simple: Speaking before a committee, listening to Spanish, watching as history is shaped. Others are less concrete: Spending almost the entirety of the last ten days with the exact same group of people. I will admit, I am not the most social human being. It can take an eternity for me to be comfortable around others. But somehow, every single person in this group is someone I am happy to have shared this time with. Without them, this experience would not have been as transformative as it was. I don’t know who selects GCOYP members, but they did an extraordinary job.
General Convention taught me that youth can have a voice, that my age does not mean I have no influence on the world. It taught me that working through an entire day is not impossible and that the result is worth the work. I learned that I can do more than I thought. I learned that there are many amazing youth in the Episcopal Church ready to be leaders. I learned that three years from now I should plan to be in Baltimore because I will certainly be doing this all again, long after I have grown from youth to adult.
Written by Claire Parish.