For the first time, youth groups in host presbyteries and around the country are invited to volunteer for the 219th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

GA runs July 3-10 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

A work group appointed by the Committee on Local Arrangements (COLA) has set a policy that both protects youth and allows for a broad variety of youth volunteer participation.

Opportunities for youth volunteers include airport and hotel welcoming, convention center greeting, packet preparation, worship usher and departure assistance.

Interested youth groups should submit a Youth Group Registration Form, downloadable from the COLA website or by contacting the COLA office at (612) 871-2617. Volunteers must be at least 14 years old and entering ninth grade. Adult leadership is needed for every five youth volunteers and must be 21 years old with at least one adult over 25. 

Youth leaders must submit proof of current background checks, and as youth groups arrive at volunteer check-in at GA, they are required to submit signed copies of the Participant Covenant, Authorization for Medical Treatment and Permission Authorization for each youth participant.

Individual youth can also volunteer with a parent or guardian. 

All expectations are specified in the Youth Volunteer Policy.

Involving youth volunteers has been a dream of COLA since plans for hosting GA began more than four years ago. COLA believes that by accepting youth volunteers the church demonstrates the vital role youth have in the church, and that volunteering serves as a way to teach youth what it means to be part of the Presbyterian denomination.

The Rev. Paula Sanders is executive director of COLA.