Youngest delegate urges unity among General Conference

David Burke


Young adult delegates embrace Shayla Jordan, a Great Plains lay delegate, after she delivered a speech against the Traditional Plan during day four of the United Methodist General Conference in St. Louis. Photo by Kathleen Barry, UMNS.

With dozens of her contemporaries around her and the support of more than 15,500 of her generation from around the world, the youngest delegate to the special session of the General Conference gave a plea for unity Tuesday morning.

“Today we ask you to vote for the unity of the body of Christ so that there is a church tomorrow,” 21-year-old Shayla Jordan, a laity delegate from Wichita, said from the floor.

“A large number of people (who have been speaking here at General Conference) do not represent the church that will be left years down the road. We need a church that is still alive and standing.”

Jordan urged her fellow delegates to defeat the Traditional Plan regarding human sexuality in the United Methodist Church.

“This is our church too, and I have thousands of people around the world supporting me in this cry,” she said.

Jordan’s plea from the floor came after the close of an online petition that collected support from 15,529 people in about 12 hours.

“We, the young people of the United Methodist Church, are not of one mind when it comes to inclusion of our LGBTQ siblings in Christ,” the petition included. “And yet through working together, sharing stories, and worshipping side by side we have seen each other’s gifts and fruits for ministry.”

Later Tuesday, Jordan – a seminarian at Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University – said she had hoped to make the speech in support of the One Church Plan, but timing forced it to be a missive against the Traditional Plan.

“I’m really just grateful that people were standing behind me and giving me that support from friends I’ve made through the years,” she said Tuesday afternoon. “It was difficult and emotional.”

Jordan was legislative chair of last year’s Global Young People’s Convocation, which met in South Africa and represented youth and young adults from every United Methodist jurisdiction in the world. The convocation voted 61 percent to 38 percent to support the One Church Plan over the Traditional Plan.

“The plan highlights diversity and celebrates unity,” she said from the floor. “This plan is not as progressive or traditional as some would like but leaves the church as a space where we can be faithful to our call.”
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