Monday, August 19, 2013

Indigenous leadership for UMC youth

Today's post is by UM & Global blogmaster Dr. David W. Scott, Assistant Professor of Religion and Pieper Chair of Servant Leadership at Ripon College.

Last week, I wrote a piece about an upcoming leadership development trip to England for American United Methodists.  I indicated that there may be good things for United Methodists to learn about leadership and discipleship by putting people from different cultural and national traditions into conversation with each other.

Over the weekend, the UM Reporter published an article about the upcoming 2013 Young Africa Leaders Summit.  This summit occurred in May and is the first of four such annual summits.  Its purpose is to help young African leaders in The United Methodist Church learn principles of leadership indigenous to the cultural of the Nilotic sub-Saharan African people.

The summits in Africa are just the first of leadership summits for young United Methodists around the globe.  The Philippines will be hosting a summit in October, and plans are in the works for similar summits in Europe and the United States as well.

While this is not yet the cross-continental leadership work I suggested in my piece last week, I think such youth leadership summits are an excellent step for United Methodists for several reasons.  First, while they're not yet global, they are international, and that feature will help participants to think about their national traditions and problems through new lenses, as I'd hoped for last week.  Second, the conferences seem designed to demonstrate to youth that there's more than one way (i.e., the white, Western way) to think about leadership.  Third, going along with that, the conferences are dedicated to developing previously ignored indigenous traditions of leadership.

All of this exploration of various understandings of leadership can only be good for the UMC, for when the church calls out to its members for leadership, voices from all of God's people will be better prepared to answer that call with the unique wisdom with which God has gifted them.

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