GCOYP: Welcoming Disruption
Youth can be a disruption. I am sure most would agree. As a youth myself, I have accepted this fate. Deputies, bishops, and various other General Convention attendees surely can attest to this fact. As Convention continues these people will most likely encounter a sudden gaggle of teenagers, wearing the red name tags of deputies and rushing through hallways alongside other General Convention attendees with shouts of “OYP” following us as our wranglers attempt to keep us together. We are accompanied by muffled reminders of “situational awareness”, to stay on one side, avoid blocking elevators, escalators, and entrances, be a little quieter. The unfortunate truth, however, is that we cannot avoid being a disruption.
By now you may be wondering why seventeen teenagers are traveling through General Convention in the first place. What, exactly, does that shout of OYP stand for?
The letters OYP are actually an abbreviation of GCOYP which, in turn, stands for the General Convention Official Youth Presence. We are one of the many official disruptions in the organized chaos that is General Convention.
Prior to General Convention youth from around the world apply to be part of GCOYP, and two from each province are selected. GCOYP is given seat and voice in the House of Deputies, as well as the opportunity to be immersed in General Convention. When the House is in session we can be found listening, and sometimes speaking, on the floor of the House of Deputies; when out of session we remain involved by visiting legislative committees, joint sessions, and various other events.
While we are able to speak on the floor of the House of Deputies, it is important to note that GCOYP members are not deputies. We are not delegates. We are a presence. We are here at General Convention to be present, a simple privilege that holds a great weight.
By inviting youth to be present in the House of Deputies and throughout General Convention, a disruption has been invited as well. However, these youth are not only a disruption because a group of seventeen is hard to move. GCOYP also has the potential to disrupt General Convention in an ideological way. We are here to provide a young voice, a new perspective. New perspectives can often be the greatest disruptions, but this does not mean they cannot bring great benefits.
Few organizations would know this better than the church, which began with one great disruption, the Jesus Movement. So although we may be slightly irritating when we are present in the middle of a hallway, I hope all will see the importance of this presence during General Convention. And I hope you will accept the disruption the words of youth may bring to your thoughts and your hearts, not only during the 79th General Convention but also for many years to come.
Written by Claire Parish