NASHVILLE, Tenn. July 25,2013 /Discipleship Ministries/ – The Young People’s Ministries division of the Discipleship Ministries has entered into a cooperative partnership to further youth and young adult ministry in the different Methodist Conferences in Europe.
Under the partnership, the European Methodist Youth and Children’s Council, known as EMYC, will be able to increase its development of resources and leaders for young people’s ministries in European Methodist conferences, said Michael Ratliff, head of Young People’s Ministries (YPM) at Discipleship Ministries.
“Instead of Young People's Ministries trying to hire and administer a staff person from an ocean away, we felt it was better to develop a partnership with EMYC and its large network to do the work that we would have a staff person do,” Ratliff said.
EMYC, which has a relationship and cooperates with the European Methodist Council, brings together the people responsible for youth and children's work and representatives of the young people of the Methodist conferences in Europe. Since 1975 when it was founded, EMYC has developed strong links between the children and youth departments, as well as the young people, from all Methodist Churches in Europe.
“The partnership is really a mutual learning experience,” said Bishop Rosemarie Wenner, president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops and bishop of the Germany Episcopal Area. “EMYC is doing all of the training. Hopefully the partnership with YPM will improve all of this, but the work does not start with the YPM.
“The conferences in the US, in Africa and in the Philippines are hopefully also encouraged and inspired by learning how the EMYC, in collaboration with the YPM, is doing things,” the bishop said.
The partnership with YMP enables EMYC to better research the needs and provide leadership for meeting those needs in the areas of faith formation, empowerment of young people and leadership development for churches in its Central Conference region. The council also will provide consultation and resources to the ministry leaders.
YPM, in turn, is gaining access to an established network which can help distribute resources and materials and is better able to work within the diverse cultures represented in the Methodist Churches in Europe.
EMYC will receive the funding that would have been used by YPM to employ a part-time staff person in Europe. Young People’s Ministries already has staff in place in other Central Conferences in Africa and the Philippines.
“The members of the EMYC know what needs to happen and know the context to work within to develop youth and young adult ministry more effectively,” Ratliff said, adding that EMYC will participate in the “broad, measurable goals that Young People's Ministry is seeking to accomplish throughout the church.”
“The goals in the agreement are a subset of our overall goals for the quadrennium,” he said. “Some of the funding will be used to extend their annual council meeting in the fall so that they have more time to work on the issues and challenges that relate to young people’s ministry in the European setting.”
Some technological platforms developed for use in the United States, like YMP’s Field Guide Network website (http://fieldguideumc.org), already are being revamped for application in Europe with contextual changes and the addition of the numerous languages used by the congregations there.
“I think we'll see ministries emerge that will be unique to settings and at the same time provide a greater way for the church to be in ministry with young people because of their ability be unique,” he said.
EMYC executives and Ratliff worked more than two years to establish the partnership agreement to hopefully benefit both parties.
“It has taken a long time and intensive work from the first idea of a cooperation between the two bodies up to the signing of the agreement,” EMYC President David Gamble, Vice President Beth Hand and Secretary Alexander von Wascinski said in a joint statement. “It has also been a learning process on how the cultures of youth work and youth ministry in the U.S. and Europe differ from each other. But finally we are sure that we have shaped an agreement which combines the abilities of the two bodies for the benefit of the young people right at the basis of the church."
Ratliff said the YPM-EMYC partnership is an attempt to answer the question: “How do we, as a global church, come together to accomplish more by empowering all of our parts to accomplish more in our own contextual settings?”
“The partnership is an example of how we are moving beyond seeing the U.S. be the dominant force in developing ministry throughout the global church,” Ratliff said. “It is, as I understand it, the direction that the work of the Worldwide Nature of the Church study committee has been moving. So my hope is that this is providing an example of how we can relate as a global church in a more equitable way in the future.”