Young Adult Ministries Moving Forward

I often get questions from congregations who know there are UU young adults near them that they never see wondering what they’re doing wrong…and just as often I get questions from young adults wondering where they should go to get their UU fix!

Frisbee at ReUUnion
Frisbee at ReUUnion

While Ohio Meadville has had four or more cons for young adults (18-35) for years, run by the Ohio Meadville Young Adult Network, this was the first year we had an event for younger young adults (18-25). This was supported by district staff, but run by the younger young adults, who called it ReUUnion Con. They scheduled it for the same weekend as the youth bridging con and the young adults then attended dinner and bridging at the youth con to welcome their friends into young adulthood, which was exactly what both the bridging youth and younger young adults needed–to connect. Twelve young adults came for a relaxed weekend schedule and a chance to talk about what younger young adults need and want. From these connections they’re planning more informal events and we plan on making ReUUnion Con an annual event!

St. Lawrence has had an annual young adult con for younger young adults (18-30ish, concentrated among those under 25) hosted by the Binghamton church for several years. In the upcoming year, other churches are looking to get into the fun with Amherst and Rochester considering hosting events. With more young adult events, we are looking for young adult leaders and allies to be part of helping coordinate the schedule and publish some “best practices” to support congregations. (Contact me to get involved! [email protected])

Serving younger young adults well is a tricky thing. Older young adults more often have greater stability in their lives and leaders emerge able to attend committee meetings and plan events. ReUUnion con 2015 doesn’t have any volunteer leaders yet–it’s too hard for folks to plan that far ahead. But I’m not worried. I’ll hold the space and look for leaders next year. But, they are adults. Capable of making their own decisions. And they don’t need supervision!

Similarly, Binghamton has had great success with a few adult allies supporting the young adults. Doing leg work, getting stuff done when needed, including the young adults in the important decisions, but letting it be okay if they don’t have the time to do all the work themselves. It’s not that younger young adults are incapable, just that they’re busy, life changes really rapidly, and so it’s hard to make long term leadership commitments.

Supporting younger young adults within congregations can be tricky, too, for the same reasons. Frequently the program that worked last year doesn’t work this year. But it’s not really rocket science–just remember relationships matter more than programs. The young adults at ReUUnion Con had some pretty simple messages to share: they want to be seen as “coming home” when they come to church, even if it’s new to them (UUism is home); they’d like to be seen as more than just “muscle” who can move stuff, but competent leaders in their own right; and it means a great deal to them when they know churches care, whether that’s the church local to their college who “adopts” them or their home church who sends care packages.

If you’re looking for ways to better support the younger young adults at your church or campus, find a way to get them together and talk to them about their lives and listen for how your church can help. Maybe a monthly home cooked meal and opportunity for circle worship. Maybe an annual service the young adults lead. Maybe just a Facebook group where the church posts events the young adults might be interested in and they self-organize informal events. The key is to remember that even when we’re not seeing them on Sunday morning, they are still part of us and they still want us to care about them.

Evin Carvill-Ziemer

Ohio Meadville and St. Lawrence Program Coordinator

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Living Our 7th Principle – Earth Day Meditation

I recently had the pleasure of participating in an online earth day meditation presented by The Master Shift. The group’s purpose is to unite the world through global meditation and positive living. In the earth day meditation, the soothing voice of Julian Lennon guides you through an amazingly beautiful, relaxing journey of colors, vision and love of mother earth and all her children. The incredible sound effects of nature and music add to the intensity of the meditation making you feel the connection to earth’s nourishing energy and making you feel alive!

7th principle
Photo: iStockPhoto Standard License
Creator: Jessica Ferguson
Use: Non-profit, Sharing. Not for resale.

This is a very moving meditation as Julian’s melodic vocal tones direct you to envision yourself as a firmly planted tree with the sensation of roots digging outward and deep into the soil grounding yourself with mother earth. Branches burst through to the heavens and take you through the life cycle of the tree. You have purpose!

You are then guided to transfer your energy into a bird to gain the bird’s eye perspective of earth as you soar through the air and into the sky. Your feathers pick up different colors as you scan the surroundings and the magnificent views while making different observations before returning back to your human form. You are encouraged to think about the following when seeing the different colors in relation to the earth.

  • Red – air is clean
  • Orange – technological advances in harmony with earth
  • Yellow – clean organic food
  • Green – plant a tree
  • Blue – clean, clear blue water
  • Indigo – reminder to do something kind for someone
  • Violet – reaching apex of who you are – What does your heart say? Follow it.

You can’t help but come away from this meditation with a greater understanding of your place on this big blue planet and a strong urge to do anything within your power to help keep her in balance. There is no denying the intimate connection to our home.

The earth day meditation is available free at

Sue Tabone, Administrator
St. Lawrence District

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It Takes a Village

We all think we live our lives independent of everything around us. And for the most part we do. Until something totally unexpected happens. Then, I can tell you, we are very grateful for the village that’s there to help us out.

This is what happened to me last Friday. Friday evening, as my husband and I were leaving our home to attend convocation at the university campus where he teaches, we received a phone call. His mother, who is 71 and busier and more energetic than the energizer bunny had a heart attack. Please come to West Virginia right away. On the trip down we got several more calls – the situation was worse than expected. The heart attack was severe. She had coded in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. Upon arrival we were told it was touch and go.

Schweitzer Quote
Photo & design by: Linda Clark, UU Media Works
Some rights reserved.

At this point I knew the next several days were not going to be work days for me. I started sending text messages and emails to Joan and the staff team. Things were taken off my plate. Some stepped up to run meetings for me, others handled online requests that I usually take care of. Some things were deemed not a priority and placed on the back burner. Folks sent messages of support and offered assistance. One even offered to come to West Virginia and sit with us in the CCU waiting room. The staff team for OMD and SLD as well as our CERG staff team stepped in and helped out.

I cannot tell you how much it helped knowing that my teammates had my back. That things would not fall through the cracks while my attention was on my husband and his mother. And how much it helped knowing that one simple text message could take care of covering something I had just remembered. This is what being part of a team means. Helping each other to make sure everything gets taken care of. Covering things when the unexpected happens.

I am very grateful that I work with a staff team that steps up to the plate and cares for each other the way ours does. And yes, it truly does take a village.

Beth Casebolt
OMD District Administrator & CERG Communications Consultant

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Guilty As Charged?

Bumper sticker 7487A common question posed in religious education programs to older children and youth is “If being a Unitarian Universalist was against the law, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” In the Tapestry of Faith curriculum for 2nd-3rd graders Signs of Our Faith, the characteristics mentioned include seeking knowledge, worshiping together, fair group decisions, a sense of faith as a journey and witness for justice. It is not just one of these or other shared characteristics that marks us a Unitarian Universalist, just as it not just treasuring one or more of our 7 Principles or 6 Sources. Rather it is, in my mind at least, valuing all of them, with all the challenges and contradictions inherent in that adoption, that marks us as Unitarian Universalists.

Another angle to this question involves appropriate behavior when you proclaim to the world that you are a Unitarian Universalist. My automobile sports a UU bumper sticker. It’s mighty handy for picking out my car out in a parking lot, but what does it mean when I drive 37 in a 25mph school zone? Or speed up to get through the intersection before the light turns red?

I own and wear several pairs of chalice earrings, necklaces and pins. To be honest they are worn much more on Sundays and at UU gatherings than M-F. Am I afraid, lazy, or what? At a recent training for religious educators in Cleveland, OH the discussion turned to tattoos. One of the participants had a depiction of her vision of faith development. Another had a chalice clearly visible on her inner right wrist as she reached out to shake hands. Hard to ignore and sure to invoke conversation!

What about you? Would your deeds convict you of being a Unitarian Universalist?

In faithful conversation,
Karen LoBracco, Lifespan Faith Development Consultant
Ohio Meadville and St. Lawrence Districts, UUA

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