The International Methodist Young Leaders Seminar (IMYLS) is the flagship Youth and Young Adult program administered by the World Methodist Council (WMC). It is normally held every five years prior to the opening of the World Methodist Conference and brings together leaders aged 18-35 from member churches of the WMC. This meeting seeks to promote dialogue, Christian fellowship, and mutual understanding and common ground among youth and young adults of the Methodist/Wesleyan family.
The idea for the IMYLS originates with the 1966 World Methodist Conference and a recommendation “that in conjunction with the next assembly of the W.M.C. a convention of W.M.C. Youth and youth leaders be held”. A one-day “Youth Convocation” was held before the 1971 World Methodist Conference in Denver, United States following a series of exchange opportunities in several cities by international groups of young people. In 1976, a Youth Conference planned by the European Methodist Youth Council was held in tandem with the World Methodist Conference in Dublin, Ireland. An event for Youth and Young Adults at the seat of the World Methodist Conference would not occur until the 1996 Conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil when the WMC Youth and Young Adult Committee sponsored visits to local community service organizations. Seeing the need for a structured opportunity for Methodist/Wesleyan Youth and Young Adult Christian Leaders to interact, the Youth and Young Adult Committee created the IMYLS.
The IMYLS programming typically includes: training workshops; structured cross-cultural dialogue; and immersion in the local culture and spiritual environment. First IMYLS was held prior to the 2001 Conference at Wesley’s Chapel in London, England. The primary outcome of this event was a call to action from Youth and Young Adult to the members of the World Methodist Council for further involvement of Youth and Young Adults in their respective denominations. The Second IMYLS was held from July 12-17 in the Methodist Theological Seminary of Korea and sponsored by the Methodist Youth Fellowship of Korea. Over 35 Youth and Young Adults from over 10 countries attended. The Third IMYLS was held from July 28-30, 2011 at the Koinoina Retreat Center in Durban, South Africa. Over 80 young leaders from 6 continents representing over 20 denominations attended.