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Episcopal Church General Convention Official Youth Presence members meet for training

April 2, 2018
Office of Public Affairs

The 18-member Official Youth Presence (OYP) will gather in Austin, TX for training April 5 – 8 to learn about the importance of the 79th General Convention and to delve into the legislative process.

The 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church will be held Thursday, July 5 to Friday, July 13 at The Austin Convention Center, Austin, Texas (Diocese of Texas).

The General Convention Official Youth Presence was established by an initial resolution in 1982. Members of the Official Youth Presence are permitted seat and voice by the rules of the House of Deputies and will participate in committee hearings and floor debates.

“GCOYP participants are traveling from across the Episcopal Church for these intensive two-days of training and preparation for General Convention,” noted Bronwyn Clark Skov, Episcopal Church Director for Formation, Youth and Young Adult Ministries. “I look forward to welcoming these 18 talented young people, as well as the adults who have volunteered as mentors and chaplains, to Austin.”

Recently named to OYP from Province IX are Diana Abuchar Sierra, Diocese of Colombia and Fernando Jose Aguilar Sanchez, Diocese of Honduras. All OYP members are listed below.

Among the trainers will be the Hon. Byron Rushing, House of Deputies Vice-President of Massachusetts, and Deputy Ariana Gonzalez Bonillas of Arizona.

The Young Adult Festival Planning Team will be joining GCOYP for several joint training sessions.  More info here.

“The planning team is meeting to create a framework for young adults from across the church to experience General Convention in a way that is accessible and enjoyable for rookies, advocates, and leaders alike,” explained the Rev. Shannon Kelly, Episcopal Church Officer for Young Adult and Campus Ministries.

Official Youth Presence

The 2018 Official Youth Presence members are General Convention:

Province I

  • Georgia Atkinson, Episcopal Church of New Hampshire
  • James-Paul Forbes, Episcopal Church in Connecticut

Province II

  • Anthony Baldeosingh, Diocese of Long Island
  • Wentao Zhao, Diocese of Long Island

Province III

  • Alexander Ward, Diocese of West Virginia
  • Andrew K. Kasule, Diocese of Washington

Province IV

  • Justin Mullis, Diocese of North Carolina
  • Helena Upshaw, Episcopal Church in South Carolina

Province V

  • Claire Parish, Diocese of Western Michigan
  • Alexander Koponen, Diocese of Indianapolis

Province VI

  • Emily Jetton, Diocese of Iowa
  • Luisa Van Oss, Episcopal Church in Minnesota

Province VII

  • Michaela Wilkins, Diocese of Texas
  • Cecelia Riddle, Diocese of Kansas

Province VIII

  • Angela Cainguitan, Diocese of Hawaii
  • Maria Gonzalez, Diocese of Olympia


Province IX 

  • Diana Marcela Abuchar Sierra Diocese of Colombia
  • Fernando Jose Aguilar Sanchez, Diocese of Honduras


Adult mentors for the Official Youth Presence are:

  • Cookie Cantwell, Diocese of East Carolina, Province IV
  • The Rev. Randy Callender, Diocese of Maryland, Province III
  • Karen Schlabach, Diocese of Kansas, Province VII
  • The Rev. Israel Portilla Gomez, Diocese of Colombia, Province IX
  • The Rev. Vincent Black, Diocese of Ohio, Province V, serving as chaplain

Joining Skov are Episcopal Church staff members Wendy Johnson, Officer for Digital Formation and Events, and Valerie Harris, Associate for the Formation Department.

For more information contact Skov.

The Episcopal Church’s General Convention is held every three years to consider the legislative business of the church.  General Convention is the bicameral governing body of the Church, comprised of the House of Bishops, with upwards of 200 active and retired bishops, and the House of Deputies, with clergy and lay deputies elected from the 109 dioceses and three regional areas of the Church, at more than 800 members. Between Conventions, the General Convention continues to work through its committees and commissions.  The Executive Council of the Episcopal Church carries out the programs and policies adopted by General Convention.