Making Young Disciples Through UM Youth Fellowship: An Invitation

September 13, 2018

By the Rev. Felicisimo “Fel” Cao
Director of Camping and Retreat Ministries and Young People’s Ministry
California-Nevada Annual Conference
Would you be surprised to find a 35-year-old young adult in Young People's Ministries? You just might!
Our Book of Discipline 2016, Paragraph 256, article 3 states in part, "Young People's Ministries – The term young people is inclusive of all persons from approximately twelve through thirty years of age in the United States and thirty-five in the central conferences. The term encompasses both youth and young adult ministries and allows for age flexibility given the different age definitions for young people in various cultures around the world ….”
I am a product of Young People’s Ministries in The United Methodist Church. In fact, I am here today because of it.
In 1977, when I was a sophomore in high school, I was introduced to the United Methodist Youth Fellowship (UMYF) and was impressed by how good the organization was in its structure and in its church and community involvement. I experienced my conversion – which is faith – in a heart-warming experience through a youth camp known as Christmas Institute in the Philippines. Through UMYF I was introduced to the Connection of The United Methodist Church as my UMYF participation widened to include the district and, later on, the annual conference.
In other words, early in my life I was introduced to United Methodism – and because the UMYF has its own leadership, empowered by an administrative board, I was able to participate in the decision-making process and life of the UMC. (From Book of Discipline 2016, Paragraph 256, article 3: “Youth who are professing members of the church have all rights and responsibilities of church membership except voting on matters prohibited by state law [see ¶ 226.5]. Young adults who are professing members of the church have all rights and responsibilities of church membership.")
United Methodist Youth Fellowship helped me transition to the United Methodist Young Adult Fellowship, and together they formed the leadership skills and gifts that I use daily as an ordained Elder in our Cal-Nev Annual Conference and beyond.
With my background you can imagine how very excited I am to serve with you in the local churches, circuits, and districts as together we work to AROUSE the interest of our young people; ORGANIZE the United Methodist Youth Fellowship and Young Adult Fellowship; and MOBILIZE our young people to serve as partners in "Making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world."
I am looking forward to the many possible ministries we could work on together with our young people!
Some ideas are organizing bike camps; promoting bicycling and spirituality; walk, run and fun inter-generational events; urban ministry and exposure programs; discipleship through peace and justice advocacy trips, both within the US and outside the US; organizing Volunteers in Mission trips that would involve young people; increasing and growing diversity in our existing Conference camps and caucus camps; and organizing and promoting camps that will equip and train young people to get involved more in the church and community.
When our young people are organized as UMYF and UMYAF, they are empowered to support our camping ministries through their Presence, Prayers, Gifts, Service and Witness. Youth and youth adults also participate in the social justice ministry of the church: I have witnessed how UMYFers and UMYAFers were strong and courageous in the work of peace and justice, especially during the regime of dictatorship and escalating human rights violations.
All of the thoughts I have about this ministry, and the potential plans I’ve generated, are geared toward developing young principled Christian disciples and leaders. If you have additional ideas, please share them with me – I welcome them!
To find out more about the Conference Young People's Ministry, or to share your ideas, please contact me at 916-374-1515 or by email to I look forward to hearing from you!