Welcoming, Serving, and Engaging Young Adults

young-adults

There is an exciting new development at the CUC: A year long project focusing on engaging young adults is being launched.

This initiative is inspired by Lindsay Hindle’s address during the Sunday morning service at the CUC’s National Conference in May 2016; Lindsay is a young adult from Vancouver who shared her views about what could be done to effectively engage young adults. Rev. Steven Epperson of the Unitarian Church of Vancouver took up the challenge and set the ball in motion. Led by Rev. Carly Gaylor and supported by the UU Ministers of Canada and the Canadian Unitarian Council, the project will work with congregations to improve the way they welcome, serve and engage young adults.

CUC staff have begun running a series of 3 webinars between November 2016 and June 2017 to help congregations navigate the work of welcoming young adults and improve their in-house practices. The webinars will include a congregational self-assessment, a discussion of generational differences and needs, concrete plans for improvement, and personalized help to carry out this work.

The first introductory session ran at the end of November 2016, where participants joined Asha Philar, CUC Youth and Young Adult Ministry Development Staff, and Rev. Carly Gaylor, Project Coordinator, to learn more about the project, how it could impact local congregations, and for an introduction to the self-assessment process. Whether you have many young adults, few, or none, this workshop is an opportunity to hear experiences, hopes, and dreams of young adults in our communities and beyond. The hope is that, by the end of the project, resources, direction and tips on inviting and welcoming younger members, and meeting the needs of those already in your UU community will be developed, collected and shared.

Interested in being part of this process and ending the church year with a new an improved strategy for young adult ministry? It’s not too late to take advantage of the resources for young adult ministry that will follow in the months to come, and to join the following two webinar sessions, which will be planned to run around February and April in the coming year. Congregations will be asked to commit to both winter and spring sessions, so stay tuned for more information, sign up details, and save the dates in the weeks to come.

Come join the next conversation planned for 2017 and get ready for a transformative year!

Highlights from regional youth events – Fall 2016

wrfg-2016-03Western Region: We had a great turnout of 40 youth and 8 advisors for “Drama Con” – the regional youth con happening in conjunction with the Western Regional Fall Gathering in Saskatoon. Con-goers came from 6 congregations in the Western region – from Edmonton to Thunder Bay!

Our talented planning team of youth and advisors put together a great weekend of workshops, worship, games and late night activities. There were lots of first time con-goers (or “nUUbies”) that were welcomed into the youth community and left with new friends and beautiful memories.

Thanks to everyone that worked so hard to pull this off, and thank you Saskatoon for hosting – it was definitely a success!

Eastern Region: Lakeshore Unitarian Universalist Congregation welcomed 10 youth and 3 advisors for a regional sleepover at the church, followed by a multigen day of workshops and activities in nearby Beaconsfield. Saturday’s Eastern Regional Fall Gathering was a truly multigenerational success – with workshops exploring who we are as UUs, what we believe, and a fishbowl discussion featuring voices of all ages talking about the promise and pitfalls of church as we know it. Thanks to Lakeshore for hosting and organizational support.

Central Region: Youth from Grand River participated in a multigenerational Fall Gathering day of workshops and worship – joining in Matt Meyer’s drumming and song workshop. We enjoyed lunch together, and a rousing closing worship, and games in the youth room.

Thanks to Grand River and its volunteers for a wonderful day and for all your organizing work!

BC Region: North Shore Unitarian Congregation hosted a very successful regional youth con with 35 youth and adults coming from all over BC, Washington and Oregon. With a SoUUl Food theme, the con celebrated and explored the ways that food shapes and touches our lives through workshops and worship. The planning “staff” team of youth and advisors worked hard, and with amazing organizational skills, to plan this con and make sure it was a memorable and wonderful weekend for everyone who came. Thank you all for your incredible dedication, and thank you North Shore for hosting!

By the numbers: Over 5 weeks, we held 2 youth cons and 2 multigen events involving youth in all 4 regions, with a total attendance of 104 people… And too many hugs to count!

Inspiration from the Unitarian Universalist Association’s General Assembly

UUA Public Witness 2016

UUA Public Witness Event

Picture this: 4300 Unitarian Universalists – in a huge conference centre hall, two big screens at the front, hundreds of rows of chairs – in the middle of a contentious debate about an Israeli Divestment resolution. The moderator pauses the business and calls up the chaplain who is sitting on the stage with the parliamentarian – her job is to help address the spiritual needs of these thousands of people as we move through the business of the weekend. The chaplain’s words and calm voice remind us of our common goals, our love for one another, our shared principles. She calls us to find the spiritual grounding for our work together.

We sing a hymn. We hold each others’ hands, look into our neighbours’ eyes and tell each other that together we can do more than we can do alone. We breathe deeply.

Business resumes, but we are reminded that we are a church and this is church business.

This was only a small part of my incredible experience at the Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly that took place in June in Columbus, Ohio. But it’s a moment that will stick with me because of how very different it was from a business meeting of a secular organization. What a great reminder that we are a faith, we are spiritual people, and our work should be done with spirit too! Continue reading

Making the Bridge

Bridging-2015It’s that bridging time of year again! As the school and church year winds down, many youth in the 18-20 age range are thinking about bridging out of youth group and the adventures that lie ahead.

“Bridging” is what we call the step from youth to young adulthood, when youth choose to transition out of the youth community and into the young adult one. This important transition is often marked with a bridging ceremony that youth can participate in at a youth group event, a conference, or during a Sunday service (or sometimes all of the above).

Youth can choose to bridge whenever it feels right to them (within that age range), and they can bridge as many times as they want. It can be an incredibly emotional transition, as youth leave the beloved community that has been their UU home throughout their high school years. Some may be starting new school programs, jobs, travel, or a move to a different city, so the separation from youth group may be physical as well as mental. Continue reading