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Interview with Ian Carlos Urriola

May 7th 2016

My name is Ian Carlos Urriola, I'm delegate from Upper New York Annual Conference

I was born and raised in the state of New York, in a suburb of Rochester. My parents moved there a few years before I was born from Texas, where my dad was getting his MBA. They moved to Texas after living in Panama for 6 years. They fled Panama after the fall of Noriega for the United States. My dad was born and raised in Panama outside of Panama City, and my mom was born and raised in the state of Michigan outside of Flint. My mom's family has been in the US since they came over as settlers/colonizers in the 18th century and my dad came to the US in the 1980s. This makes me simultaneously a first generation Latino American and a ninth generation white American. 

I was born into the UMC. My mom was born and raised in the Evangelical United Brethren Church before the merger of 1968. My parents joined my home church, Asbury First United Methodist Church, when they first moved to Rochester before I was born primarily because of their fantastic music program. My father, like most other Panamanian Christians, was raised Catholic. This month marks 10 years since my 8th grade confirmation in the UMC. Since then I have served on ministries on the local church, annual conference, jurisdictional, and now general church level. I was a youth leader, treasurer, and president of my church's youth group during my four years of high school; I served on the Youth Work Area of my church; 

I participated in the annual youth group mission trip and went to Brooklyn, Nicaragua, Benton Harbor (MI), and Philadelphia; I sang in the youth choir and the adult sanctuary choir and I rang in the youth bell choir; I would frequently volunteer at my church's on-site dining and caring center; and I served as an acolyte and crucifer in worship. I went to college at American University—a United Methodist affiliated school in Washington, DC—and joined the United Methodist campus ministry there right away.

I served as a student leader of the United Methodist Student Association, music director, member of the worship planning committee, and spent my senior year of college as the Vice President of the student association. My junior year of college, I was hired by Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist Church (also in Washington, DC) to be the director of their children's choir and tenor soloist of their Chancel Choir. I also volunteer as an adult youth leader for their youth group.

I still hold these three leadership positions as I complete my second year of my MDiv studies at Wesley Theological Seminary. On the Annual Conference level, I have been a lay equalization member to the Annual Conference every year since 2009, I served as chair of the Conference Council on Youth Ministries (CCYM) in the 2009-2010 school year, and I've served on the Young Adults Council since its formation in 2014. On the jurisdictional level, I participated in the Northeastern Jurisdiction Council on Youth Ministries 2008 Mission of Peace to Cuba, which is where I received my call to ordained ministry. As of now, however, I am still a member of the laity, although I have recently been certified as a candidate for ministry by my District Committee on Ministry.

I am a lay member of the church. I am employed by Metropolitan Memorial UMC as the children's choir director and the tenor soloist. 

I am the first lay reserve delegate for the Upper New York Annual Conference. If one of the six lay delegates from my conference needs to step away from their responsibilities for a time during GC, they call me or the other lay reserve delegate. This is my first time attending General Conference, so I honestly don't know what to expect, but I can tell you what my hopes are. My hope is that we remain united as a church and stay true to our Wesleyan spirit. That is we do no harm, do good, and attend to the ordinances of God.

I hope that on matters where we disagree with one another we can do so in a way that reflects the deep love that we ought to have for one another. I hope that the voices of young people and the Latinx community have an opportunity to be heard. My message to the United Methodist Latin@ community is that I love each and every one of you as brothers and sisters in the risen Christ, and that I constantly pray for you. May the grace and peace of Jesus Christ be with you all. Alabanza!