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VICYC President Ezekiel Perez Delivers State Of The Youth Address at 2023 Winter Meeting


This article has been recently resubmitted for digital publication on The Star of Zion platform. 

The Varick International Christian Youth Council
Office of the Connectional President
State of the Youth Address

Raleigh, NC- To the Connectional Officers of The Varick International Christian Youth Council, to the Conference and District Delegates and Alternate Delegates, to our guests and all of those assembled, I Ezekiel A. Perez greet you in the matchless and marvelous name of our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ. It is often said we are the church of tomorrow, but I stand here today to direct you with just one word NOW. Scripture says, this is the day the Lord hath made. I want you to look around, this time last year we were in Chicago and a lot of you weren’t there due to travel challenges with Southwest Airlines or maybe just because of financial situations. How far have we come? Now it is time we build upon what we have established. Our church has a rich history and a strong foundation. It is our duty to build upon that framework, for our present time, and to ensure a vibrant future for generations to come.

First, I want to recognize the importance of spiritual growth. As the youth of the AME Zion Church, we must actively engage in our faith, seeking a deeper understanding of the teachings and principles that guide our church. Just to name a few, Let us regularly engage in church services, participate in bible study sessions, lead faith-based initiatives, and promote community outreach. We can kingdom build by nurturing our spiritual selves, strengthen our connection with God and put on the full spiritual armor of God - your helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, a belt of truth, shoes of the gospel of peace, pick up your shield of faith, and take up your sword of the spirit– to be better equipped to face life's challenges with grace and resilience.

Ecclesiastes 7:12 states, "For wisdom is a defense, and money is a defense: but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom giveth life to them that have it.” This scripture undergirds the necessity of education in the life of a believer. Education is not only a means to personal growth, but it is a powerful tool to uplift our community. Let us prioritize our studies, pursuing academic excellence with diligence, determination and dedication. Whether in middle/high school, college, vocational training or serving in our nation's armed forces, let us strive to acquire the knowledge and skills that will enable us to make a meaningful contribution to society today. For those of you that have been keeping up with VICYC you know that at this winter meeting we awarded 3 students with the Roosevelt L. Thompson Scholarship which is a huge honor when you begin to think about his accomplishments at such a young age. Roosevelt Thompson a Arkansas Native upon graduation attended Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut where he received many honors as he Majored in History, economics and Political Science not only was Thompson a scholar and a leader, but he was also a man of service. Thompson not only volunteered to tutor for the New Haven Public School System but also took part in a work-study opportunity to work at city hall and eventually work on Former President Bill Clinton’s Campaign Team when running for Governor. Roosevelt Thomson was a recipient of the Rhodes Scholarship which is a post-graduate award given so that young people from around the globe can attend Oxford University. Although Roosevelt Thompson didn’t get to attend Oxford, I believe that he succeeded at creating a legacy that continues to live on. I truly believe that Roosevelt L. Thompson is the definition of excellence without excuse.

Zion has always been a pillar of support for its members, and as the youth, we should actively participate in community outreach programs, social initiatives, and service projects. Let us first identify the needs of our communities, talk to residents and community leaders to comprehend the most pressing issues that are challenging your community. Then, schedule and organize regular community engagement opportunities where youth members can participate. Let us make a larger goal to Involve the entire congregation. This expands the community impact, offers intergenerational bonding, and it creates a sense of shared purpose in the membership.

In the book of Romans 12:2 it says “do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” When this Cabinet was elected in 2022 Rev. Dr. George McKain charged us to be “Intentional.” Let’s talk about it. What does it mean to be Intentional? We must make deliberate choices and meaningful steps in every aspect of our involvement in the church. Embracing
intentionality can significantly enhance our impact and contribution to Zion. In an effort to strengthen Youth engagement we must be intentional with the Programming and the work that is done in our respective regions.

How can we be intentional? Let us count the ways

(1) We can engage in Meaningful Discussions to include depth and transparency on relevant and pertinent topics. We can share diverse perspectives and seek understanding while participating in these conversations because Intentional Engagement will lead to both personal and collective

(2) We must leverage technology. Let’s maximize social media outlets such as Instagram, Facebook, Tiktok and the various platforms that makes our reach extensive, while we thoughtfully ensure our online presence reflects high morals, ethical standards, and christian values of the church.

(3) We must build our collective. Let’s join together in an intergenerational band and be drum majors for the Lord. We can work collaboratively with other local youth-based organizations, and other departments within our church. Building strong relationships with our seniors and young adults and create a sense of unity that fosters theoretical practices, resources, and support.

Under the leadership of the current administration, we have established communication with leaders of both the C.M.E. and A.M.E. Churches in efforts to advance youth ministry. In our efforts to be intentional with Methodism, we have built relations and rapport that have helped to spread our doctrine amongst youth. Moreover, in our intentions, we not only contribute to the church but also grow personally and spiritually; thus granting a stronger and more vibrant future for our God’s kingdom.

I am often asked where I see VICYC going and my answer is simple – FORWARD. I believe we have a bright future ahead of us and with the utilization of technology, leadership development initiatives and advocacy for social justice. We can further advance the A.M.E. Zion Church in all ways imaginable. The National Christian Youth Council (NCYC) was formed in 1930 and changed its name to VCYC then to ViCYC. This body is the first organization in the Christian Education Department of the A.M.E. Zion Church, and after 93 years of life, I have high aspirations for this organization. I stand here before you today with three key initiatives of my administration. SLT – spiritual growth, leadership development and technology efficiency, are
our key components moving forward.

As I continue to humbly serve this body, I ask for your support in these endeavors. In closing, I leave you words of the Harvard scholar and black social advocate, W.E.B. Du Bois. He proclaimed, “Now is the accepted time, not tomorrow, not some more convenient season. It is today that our best work can be done and not some future day or future year. It is today that we fit ourselves for the greater usefulness of tomorrow.” And in the words of the the psalmist David who proclaimed, This is the day the Lord hath made.

May God Bless you and may Heaven smile upon you!

Humbly Submitted,

Ezekiel A. Perez
President, Varick International Christian Youth Council
Christian Education Department, A.M.E. Zion Church

VICYC President, Ezekiel Perez, State of the Youth Address, 2023 Winter Meeting, Social Media


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