Diocese's young leaders claim their place at General Convention

The young people of the Diocese of Massachusetts will be well represented at the 2015 General Convention this summer. In addition to the Official Youth Presence delegate Allegra Robinson, from St. John's Church in Franklin, two youth observers, Megan Lightcap and Michelle St. Francis, are traveling to Salt Lake City thanks to a grant from Episcopal Church Women (ECW).  They will also be attending sessions at the ECW Triennial Meeting, which is held parallel to General Convention. 

Lightcap, who just graduated from high school, is a member of St. Paul’s Church in Natick, and St. Francis, a high school junior, is a member of Trinity Church in Concord.

“It’s critically important to involve young people in the governing councils of the church.  If we want new leadership, we need to be intentional in encouraging the formation of new leaders,” said the Rev. H. Mark Smith, the diocese's director of youth ministry. “To really embrace our mission, the church today needs the unique brand of enthusiasm, honesty and energy of our young people.  And, in order to grow into God’s dream of the church, we will need our young people engaged, equipped and empowered to take the lead." 

Megan Lightcap is involved with the Diocesan Youth Council and is currently in her second year serving as a youth representative to Diocesan Council. She has attended the Barbara C. Harris Camp for 10 years, and will be spending her summer working there as counselor. 

“There have been many times throughout my life when people have told me that I’m too young to understand this, or too young to be doing that. Over the last four years, I have been trying to prove to myself and other people that age should not be a factor in what people should and should not be able to do,” Lightcap said. “I like getting involved in church politics, and would like to learn more about the issues in this diocese and the Episcopal Church as a whole. I understand that I might still be ‘just a kid,’ but I don’t think that should stop me from getting involved and following my passions.” 

Lightcap will attend Indiana University in the fall, and plans to study computer science. 

Michelle St. Francis is also an active member of the Diocesan Youth Council. “DYC was the group that first opened my eyes to the workings of our diocese and the Episcopal Church,” St. Francis said.

St. Francis said that she is particularly looking forward to the opportunity to observe hearings related to the work of the Task Force on Marriage and the Executive Council Committee on the Status of Women. “This work makes me proud to be a part of the Episcopal Church, because it exemplifies how hard we work to be accepting of people and their differences,” St. Francis said. “As a young woman in our church, I find this work particularly inspiring and I am excited to hear what they have to report.” 

St. Francis said that she sees the presence of youth at General Convention as essential to the future of the church. 

 “This is our church too, so we need to voice our opinions about its direction,” she said. “As youth we should all take advantage of this opportunity and share our thoughts about how we think the church should run. [The Episcopal Church] recognizes that even though we are just teenagers, our ideas and thoughts still matter."

“I am so happy that I have grown up in a diocese that wants to see young people thrive in the adult world, and that this has given me an amazing opportunity to attend General Convention,” Lightcap said. “This diocese encourages youth to get involved, but even more than that, they show us that no matter how small we may seem, we can do anything.” 

--Ellen Stuart Kittle

Learn more about the Diocese of Massachusetts at General Convention here.