Youth Ministries

Episcopal Church General Convention Official Youth Presence members announced

March 28, 2018
Youth Ministries

The 16 members of the Episcopal Church General Convention Official Youth Presence at the 79th General Convention have been announced.

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.

“Each convention since 1997, the Official Youth Presence has had the privilege of seat and voice in the House of Deputies,” House of Deputies President Gay Clark Jennings said. “Our legislative deliberations and debates are enlivened and enriched by these impressive young people, and I look forward to welcoming this year’s participants to our house. I am especially grateful to House of Deputies Vice President Byron Rushing and Deputy Ariana Gonzalez Bonillas of Arizona for their work in helping to select the young people who will be with us in Austin.”

“Members of the Official Youth Presence will participate in a General Convention orientation and training April 5-8 in Austin to ensure they are ready for General Convention when they arrive in Texas on July 2,” noted Bronwyn Clark Skov, Episcopal Church Director for Formation, Youth and Young Adult Ministries. “These young people will participate in every aspect of General Convention, from committee meetings to legislative deliberations on the floor of the House of Deputies, where they are granted both seat and voice.”

The following youth will be serving as the 2018 Official Youth Presence at 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 is currently discerning participants.

Adult mentors for the Official Youth Presence will be:

  • 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.

The Formation Department received 107 applications from youth in dioceses across the Episcopal Church. Applications were reviewed by a committee that included House of Deputies Vice-President Byron Rushing of Massachusetts, Deputy Ariana Gonzalez Bonillas of Arizona, members of the Youth Ministry Network Leadership Council and the Formation Department staff.

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.

Canon Myra Garnes

Officer for Youth Ministries

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