Adventist Youth Directors Meet with Independent Ministries, Agree to Joint Understandings
by Adventist Today News Team
A "Global Unity Summit" convened by Pastor Gilbert Cangy, youth director of the General Conference (GC) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, brought together a number of the denomination's youth directors and representatives of independent ministries, announced a story released by the Adventist News Network (ANN) on Monday (July 8). The denomination's official news service, ANN also released an eight-point document describing the agreements that the representatives came to.
A key group involved in the "summit" was Generation of Youth for Christ (GYC), started with the involvement of Dr. Samuel K. Pipim when he was director of campus ministries for the Michigan Conference. Pipim later admitted to sexual misconduct with young women, resigned from denominational employment and was dropped from church membership. The Michigan Conference has rescinded his ministerial credentials and refused his rebaptism, as Adventist Today has reported.
GYC is generally viewed as more conservative than the official youth activities of the Adventist Church. "Within the church, there is a wide spectrum of theological understandings," Cangy is quoted in the ANN bulletin. "From the sinless perfections who want to see individuals be sinless before Jesus comes … to the rabidly liberal who see no need for obedience or accountability. The perception was that even the centered [supporting ministries] were professing a performance-driven Christian lifestyle that would earn them salvation. We discovered through our meetings that this was not the view that was embraced."
Another issue discussed was about communication between independent ministries and the denomination's appointed youth directors in local and union conferences. "GYC has always striven to be in regular and consistent communication with [local] church leadership," Amy Sheppard, a vice president of the organization who participated in the meeting. "But the perception that this communication does not happen unfortunately persists."
The eight "resolutions" that came out of the meeting include commitments "to work together in mutual affirmation and support, … an ongoing process of open communication," and to keep "our calling to serve young people as a priority over personal ambition, politics and self-interest." It also includes a "mutual commitment to keep Jesus at the center of our faith," a theme that sounds very much like that of The One Project, although the ANN bulletin said nothing about that coalition of pastors and youth workers being part of the meeting.
Cangy admitted in the ANN story that there "is the perception that some supporting ministries are fringe movements touting dubious theology." A retired church administrator told Adventist Today "when a group feels the need to start an organization that parallels an established department like youth ministries, there is always an implied criticism of the leadership in that department. Otherwise, why is the new organization needed?"
Cangy was elected youth director at the 2010 GC Session when Dr. Baraka Muganda was not returned to office, much to the professed surprise of many youth directors around the world. "Upon his 2010 appointment … Cangy pledged to increase dialogue between church youth leadership and supporting [independent] ministries," the ANN bulletin stated. Muganda was hired as vice president for ministries at Washington Adventist University.
The resolutions "provide an excellent foundation for the future," a former youth director told Adventist Today. "The question is will GYC and similar groups actually collaborate with the denomination's youth workers or continue to do their own thing. There is a spirit of independence among some sectors of the Adventist community that never seems to go away."