GCOYP: "We are part of an impassioned generation"
Buenas tardes. Mi nombre es Maria Gonzalez, soy de la diócesis de Olympia, y estoy aquí con la presencia oficial de jóvenes. Gracias por permitirme hablar delante de ustedes hoy.
My name is Maria Gonzalez. I am sixteen years old. I am the daughter of a Pennsylvanian. I am also the daughter of a Mexican immigrant. My experiences as a Mexican-American female in the United States have played a prominent role in shaping my world view and my beliefs. However, I would argue that my experiences as an Episcopalian have been even more influential. As I have grown up at St. Mary’s, in the Diocese of Olympia, I have learned what it means to strive for justice and peace, respect the dignity of every human being, and love your neighbor as yourself. But as I look at our world today, it’s obvious that we suffer from a lack of love.
This is apparent in racism, homophobia, sexism, and xenophobia. It can also be seen through war and poverty, but I think this lack of love is most clearly seen in the human rights abuses that occur daily throughout our world. These abuses come in a multitude of forms: in Colorado, a couple is unable to purchase a wedding cake because they are members of the LGBTQ+ community; in Nigeria, girls continue to be kidnapped by Boko Haram; in the Middle East, there are more than 7 million Palestinian refugees and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains unresolved; at the Mexico-U.S. border, migrant children who were separated from their families still have not been reunited with their parents.
So how do we, as Episcopalians, make things better? How do we teach love? It starts with making an effort to show that the Episcopal Church truly welcomes and supports all people, especially women, youth, minorities, and members of the LGBTQ+ community. Inclusivity is key; we must expand the language of liturgy so that it encompasses all people. We must continue to fund youth and young adult programs. We also have to make gender parity in church leadership more than a goal—it must become a reality.
The Episcopal Church has amazing ministries through which we have the ability to change the world for good. But change never comes from compliancy. I dream of a church that is not afraid of being a little bit controversial—controversial in that it stands for what is right instead of what is easy. This means questioning decisions made in Washington D.C. that lack love and compassion. It means using the Office of Government Relations and the Episcopal Public Policy Network to make our voices heard. Instead of scrambling to maintain ground on issues, we must try new methods; we must aim to make headway with the current administration so that we really do shape and influence policy on critical issues.
We must also remember to treat all people with the dignity they deserve, even when others neglect to do so. We are servants of God—Jesus’s hands and feet in the world. We are called to lift up the last, the lost, and the least, wherever they may be. We are called to serve one another humbly in love. As such, it is imperative that the Episcopal Church continues to provide opportunities for domestic and international outreach, and expands the mandates of Episcopal Migration Ministries, Global Partnerships, and Episcopal Relief and Development.
I know that none of this will be easy. To be perfectly honest, the world that we live in today scares me because it is filled with uncertainty. But I have faith in God, and tremendous faith in humanity. I have been incredibly fortunate to grow up in a church where the power of love is always recognized. I have also been fortunate to learn that the Christian conceptualization of love is something that is truly special; our love is rooted in the teachings of Jesus Christ: it is a love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. It is a love that never ends.
Please, do not forget the call to walk in love, because it is only through loving and through being loved that we can teach others what love is. It is only through love that we can hope to live in unity and harmony as God intended.
Finalmente, mientras nos esforzamos por mejorar este mundo, por favor, recuerde incluir a los jóvenes. Soy parte de una generación apasionada. Tenemos ojos ávidos y fuego en nuestros corazones. Podríamos ser los futuros líderes de la iglesia, y posiblemente del mundo, pero también somos líderes ahora, y estamos aquí para ayudar.
Finally, as we strive to make this world a better place, please remember to include youth. I am part of an impassioned generation. We have eager eyes and fire in our hearts. We may be the future leaders of the church, and even of the world, but we are also leaders today, and we are here to help. Thank you.
Maria presented this witness on behalf of the GCOYP in both the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops.