State Level Advocacy

UU Justice Ohio

 

UU Justice Ohio had a banner year becoming incorporated, obtaining 501c3 tax exempt status, hiring an Executive Director, Howard Tolley,  and Issues Coordinator Carol Temerson, and enrolling as institutional members 22 Congregations and the OMD UUMA Minister’s Chapter as well as over 40 individual Justice Advocates.  The UU Fund for Social Responsibility provided a matching grant in time for tax-deductible year end membership or other contributions at http://ohiomeadville.org/uujo/.  The annual November Justice Assembly in Columbus drew nearly 100 from all four corners of the state, and the Get Smart on Crime Rally engaged partners and allies – Greater Cleveland Congregations, BREAD in Columbus, and Cincinnati’s AMOS project.  For pictures of the event as well as justice postings go to https://www.facebook.com/UUJusticeOhio  UUJO’s three action teams on Immigration, Economic Justice, and Criminal/Racial Justice are organizing for work in 2015  on Black Lives Matter, income inequality, the death penalty and deportations.  Five other issue groups also have pages for information exchange on the UUJO website – Environment, LGBT, Reproductive Justice, Voting Rights and Peacemaking.

 

Next big event–MeetUp For Justice with training on how to talk directly with your state legislator to make a difference. More info here: http://ohiomeadville.org/uujo/.

 

Interfaith Impact NYS

 

Interfaith Impact has been working in several areas this year. IINYS Executive Director Robb Smith testified about the minimum wage gap for tipped workers in New York State. Right now, the difference between the minimum wage for other workers and that for your waiter or waitress is $3 per hour, going up to $3.75 per hour on Dec. 31st. Member also participated in the Family Planning Advocates (FPA) Day of Action and wrote statements on many issues including Reproductive Justice and Hydrofracking.

 

Plan on joining Interfaith Impact NYS on their Advocacy Day on May 4. Details at http://iinys.nationbuilder.com

 

Follow the example of First Unitarian Rochester!

 

Members and friends of the First Universalist Church of Rochester, NY, recently contributed nearly $500 to Interfaith Impact of New York State through a pass the plate for justice (or another term) emphasis during a Sunday morning service. Interfaith Impact is a state-wide advocacy network composed of Unitarian Universalists, Reform Jews and progressive Protestants who advocate on state-wide issues. The particular focus of the contribution was on stopping hydrofracking in New York State.

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And More Congregational Social Justice

We are still running stories of congregational social justice projects because we received so many great stories!

North Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Lewis Center, OH

The NUUC Social Action Committee (SAC) has been involved in numerous projects during 2014 to raise awareness, encourage participation in social justice, and provide assistance to address human needs.  Our congregation participated in UUSC’s Guest at Your Table program, hosted an Empty Bowls luncheon to raise money for the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, collected school supplies to benefit students served by the Delaware County Juvenile Probation Department, and collected gifts and donations to support Montana de Luz, a faith based organization in rural Honduras that provides a home for children affected by HIV/AIDS.  Each month we donate our Loose Change Offering to an organization that provides educational awareness or support services to those impacted by social injustice.  Our monthly Fair Trade sales of coffee and chocolate support fair wages for farmers and the proceeds from sales are used to sponsor a child at Montana de Luz.

During 2015 the Social Action Committee offered several educational programs on different social justice topics to provide information to members of our congregation and the surrounding community.  Our environmental group watched “The Story of Solutions” discussed steps we can take to move toward a more sustainable future.  We showed A “Place at the Table”, a documentary about hunger in America.  We hosted a screening and discussion of  “Disruption! “. We sent ribbons for the Climate Ribbon Project with two members to  the People’s Climate March in New York City.  We also showed “Dollarocracy – The Influence of Money on Our Democracy and What We Can Do About It.”

Unitarian Universalist Church of Amherst, New York

In October, our committee  offered a book reading  called an ” Innocent Man” by John Grisham about a innocent man with mental health isues, convicted of a crime and all the inequities in our legal, prison and mental health systems. Then we had a storyteller from Prisoners are People too and had a special collection for them.

Our Committee also provides a meal and chaperones for a homeless family by partnering with the UU Church of Buffalo through Family Promise.  The Buffalo Church hosts familes for a week four times a year and our church assists with one evening meal and sleep over for the family or families.

We hosted a potluck for a UU minister Rev Mark Kiyimba from Uganda, He presented a documentary from Uganda regarding the abusive treatment of LGBT in his country.  His church runs and orphanage for children whose parents died of AIDS and we collected money for his work.

The UU Church of Amherst belongs to VOICE – Buffalo, an organization of faith groups, teacher’s union, many other groups that want to improve the public life in Buffalo, NY.  On Nov 6 VOICE had a public meeting and our church was represented with many other churches and groups. At that meeting we invite politicians, and those in power, along with the community and asked for their support publically on issues to improve our life here in Buffalo. This year our focus was on restorative justice,, improving the mental health in Erie County and the County Jail, We also wanted to reinstitute the local conditional release program for non-violent prisoners. At the meeting the public officials announced their support in front of about 700 people.

West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church in Rocky River, Ohio

This year the Social Action Committee decided to honor long time member and one of the founders of the SAC, Jane Metzger, by renovating and expanding the food pantry at West Shore.  The pantry is open every Sunday morning as well as during the week.  We have two major food drives, one in October and one in February, and use the food collected to restock the pantry and also to share with Urban Hope a UU based drop in center for the homeless, and St. Paul’s church where low income and homeless people can go for assistance.

In  April we celebrated the 5th anniversary of the social action film series.  We have shown films about PTSD, sustainability and climate change, human trafficking, economic inequality, drones, women’s rights, marriage equality, and genetically altered food.  There is a regular group of attendees but we have partnered with task forces at West Shore as well as other community groups to increase the viewing audience.

We participated in Homeless Stand Down and for the third year we collected shoes to be distributed by Walk A Mile In My Shoes.  We also collected school supplies for Case School, where 10 members of West Shore regularly volunteer.  Several of our members participated in raising awareness of mass incarceration issues and hope to focus on this issue in the coming year.

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More Congregational Social Justice

Image courtesy of John Kasawa at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of John Kasawa at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This month we are continuing to run social justice stories we received from congregations.

 

Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Greater Canton, Ohio

Every Sunday at 1:00, people who are hungry for a meal assemble on the lawn west of Market Street between 3rd and 4th Streets, where various churches and other organizations set up tables to distribute food and sometimes clothing to any who have gathered there.

The UCC church faithfully sets up tables and hands out a variety of hot foods every Sunday. Other groups, like ours, contribute less often. Every month there are familiar faces and new faces waiting in line.

 

On the Sunday before Christmas, we came to Kresge Square with homemade cookies and hats, gloves and scarves donated by UUCGC members and friends. There were so many cold winter accessories that we needed two tables to stack them on. It was gray, cold, and muddy. The people who came by the tables looked grimly through the hats and gloves, nodding with satisfaction when they found something that could fit them. “My little girl needs a new pair of gloves. She just keeps growing,” one man told me as he picked up a small pair of pink fleece gloves. Picking out the right pair of gloves, the hat that would fit, or a warm scarf was serious business. But when we pointed to our other table across the lawn, the table that displayed plates of homemade cookies, faces brightened. Two men pretended to steal an entire plate of cookies but returned laughing when the teens called after them. Another guy flirted with my 71-year-old mother, complimenting her on her Christmas tree earrings and asking her for a date. I like to talk smack about the Browns this time of year since so many people show up in Browns and Steelers gear.

 

On another Sunday, the weekend before Thanksgiving this year, Max and I put about 100 sandwiches and 20 juice boxes into a large plastic tub and carried it between us to the long line that snaked across the lawn as people waited for the UCC volunteers to set up their tables. It was a cold day, and we were all shivering. Those without gloves were holding them under their armpits, stomping their feet to keep them warm. The mood was more than usually pleasant, though, no doubt helped by a band of four musicians who had braved the cold temperatures and set up near a picnic table where they played guitars, violin, and a horn. The atmosphere was festive, and our sandwiches were welcomed. Our juice boxes, as always, disappeared within seconds. As Max once said to a visiting youth who wondered whether anyone really appreciates our tuna fish and egg sandwiches, “We don’t do it because we want their gratitude, we do it because they’re hungry.” But there was not one person who accepted a sandwich from us who didn’t thank us sincerely and bless us for coming down.

 

No moment during my own Thanksgiving celebration later that week made me feel as grateful, happy, and blessed as I felt to walk somewhat shyly among strangers and offer them food made by the children of our congregation.

—by Erin Dubois

 

First Universalist Church of Rochester, New York

Members and friends of the First Universalist Church of Rochester, NY, recently contributed nearly $500 to Interfaith Impact of New York State through a pass the plate for justice emphasis during a Sunday morning service. Interfaith Impact is a state-wide advocacy network composed of Unitarian Universalists, Reform Jews and progressive Protestants who advocate on state-wide issues. The particular focus of the contribution was on stopping hydrofracking in New York State.

 

Unitarian Universalist Society of Cleveland

Newly called minister Rev. Joe Cherry has brought a different way of giving to the community. In an acknowledgement that the minister’s ministry is never solely to the members and friends of the church, nor contained to the walls, Joe has asked his congregation to tithe some of his ministerial time. Through a lottery selection of organizations suggested by members, he is giving around four hours a week to organizations outside the church.

 

North Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Lewis Center, Ohio

The NUUC Social Action Committee (SAC) has been involved in numerous projects during 2014 to raise awareness, encourage participation in social justice, and provide assistance to address human needs.  Our congregation participated in UUSC’s Guest at Your Table program, hosted an Empty Bowls luncheon to raise money for the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, collected school supplies to benefit students served by the Delaware County Juvenile Probation Department, and collected gifts and donations to support Montana de Luz, a faith based organization in rural Honduras that provides a home for children affected by HIV/AIDS.  Each month we donate our Loose Change Offering to an organization that provides educational awareness or support services to those impacted by social injustice.  Our monthly Fair Trade sales of coffee and chocolate support fair wages for farmers and the proceeds from sales are used to sponsor a child at Montana de Luz.

 

During 2015 the Social Action Committee offered several educational programs on different social justice topics to provide information to members of our congregation and the surrounding community.  Our environmental group watched “The Story of Solutions” discussed steps we can take to move toward a more sustainable future.  We showed A “Place at the Table”, a documentary about hunger in America.  We hosted a screening and discussion of  “Disruption! “. We sent ribbons for the Climate Ribbon Project with two members to  the People’s Climate March in New York City.  We also showed “Dollarocracy – The Influence of Money on Our Democracy and What We Can Do About It.”

 

 

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Social Justice Stories Continue

This month we are publishing stories of congregational social justice work as a way we can inspire each other. This month we have two stories of new projects from smaller congregations.

Unitarian Universalist Church of Utica, New York

Our Social Action Committee came up with a program called “Project Up & Out” that has exciting potential. We will be partnering with Thea Bowman House in Utica to sponsor a family for a year. The staff of Thea Bowman House is in the process of identifying a family for us and spending time with them to learn what their specific needs are . Once their needs are known, volunteers from our congregation will step up to offer support in the specific areas the family identifies such as ESOL, adult education, interview preparation, financial literacy mentoring, etc. Congregants will also contribute a set amount financially to pay for school supplies, clothes and other needs the family has throughout the year. Students from Hamilton College will be studying Project Up & Out to measure our goals and outcomes and to determine whether or not Project Up & Out is an effective and sustainable model for helping families get out of the cycle of poverty. The Youth of our congregation will be delivering updates throughout the year on Project Up & Out. If the outcome is positive, the Social Action Committee hopes to document the model to be used throughout Utica. The congregation is excited about this project and eager to make this the main focus of our Social Action work in 2015, though other initiatives will continue.

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Oberlin, Ohio

We have now been in our new building over 2 years.  From the beginning we have seen it as allowing us to undertake social justice projects that were not possible without a building.  There are three programs that we have chosen because they fitted the space requirements and because we had special people in our congregation with the interest and skills to make the projects succeed:

POWER's Greg JonesPOWER is a successful environmental organization started by one of our members, Cindy Frantz.  Its purpose is to assess by invitation the energy use of area homes, and after assessment to work with the homeowners to increase their energy efficiency.  Funding for the program was cut, and POWER was faced with firing one of their 2 employees.  They appealed to OUUF for space so they could drop their office space and keep their employees.  We found a small room with space for their files and for interviewing clients.  We have been pleased to have them in our building.

Students at Oberlin High School have a fine LGBTQQIA  group, but the students in Lorain County do not.  One of our members, Nancy Boutilier, felt this was a service OUUF could provide.  She volunteered to be the advisor, and, along with a few other members, formed a drop in center.  It is OUUF’s Welcoming Congregation safe space called Café Q, with monthly meetings at OUUF. They had their first meeting this fall, and students are beginning to drop in.

Our most ambitious project is to join with a large group of Oberlin and Lorain County churches to host homeless families under a program called Family Promise.  Fourteen selected families are in the program for 60 days during which they have skills training at a central site and look for housing.  The job of each church is to give a week several times a year providing the families meals and a place to sleep.  The children are bussed to their own schools.  Our first week is December 28 to January 4.  Although OUUF is a small group, and a number of us are out of town for the holidays, we have managed to fill all 56 slots with the help of some friends.  We are fortunate that the Oberlin Methodist Church is our partner, and they are providing the breakfasts and lunches as well as large quantities of equipment and supplies.

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“Let’s Talk” about race at District Assembly

Our blog posts this month continue to provide updates on social justice in Ohio Meadville and St. Lawrence Districts. This blog post is an invitation to a scheduled conversation at District Assembly on how we will and are responding to the post-Ferguson movements for racial justice.

My Black Body and Justice by Samuel Prince

Samuel Prince
Samuel Prince

Most of us, if not all, have heard of the grand jury decisions not to indict or have any criminal charges brought to the white police officers who had shot two black African American males and the ongoing investigation of the killing of a young twelve year-old boy in Cleveland by a white police officer.

As with the jury decision not to indict Trayvon Martin’s killer, these lack of indictments and killings has fueled and spawned a national protest that #blacklivesmatter with the need to take a closer look at policing around the country.

It’s been noted that “African-American brothers and sisters, especially brothers, in this country are more likely to be arrested, more likely to be executed, more likely to be killed.” This statement is a truism, and a narrative pointed out by activists, black clergy and others to the enormous problem and issue plaguing the Black community with it comes to arrest, equality and black livelihood in America.

These killings have been compared to the many African Americans who have been lynched and or killed at the hands of those who had a racial prejudice towards them, their families and other racial injustices directed towards the black community. The trail is a bloody and deadly one!

What is it about the black body our bodies, my black body that cause so much consternation, so much angst, so much disgust and so much anger! Even when the most mundane infractions are committed, the measure of punishment and outright brutality criminalized a black body!

Even though white Americans outnumber black Americans fivefold, black people are three times more likely than white people to be killed when they encounter the police in the US, and black teenagers are far likelier to be killed by police than white teenagers.

Our Unitarian Universalist first and second principles affirms the worth and dignity of every person and the equity, justice, and compassion and LOVE in all human relations. The countless past examples have shown that justice matters to Unitarian Universalists and our need to see that justice matters and to speak out against unjust acts. The question then becomes, what of our internalized upbringing and reaction when confronted with our own biases and prejudices, racism? Would Justice speak out to you in our predominantly white organization?

If we do not have the conversations forthrightly about race, we will arrive at the same apex that has been inherently embedded in us, the outcome of killings that we see so prevalent today. You cannot train out racist mentalities; you can change a person behavior but not their mindsets.

So let us continue to learn how to affirm a person’s dignity and worth and at the same time, their individual right for justice, equity, compassion and love in all human relations. Let us get to know “the other”, so when we are confronted, we respond in kindness and love. #alllivesmatter

Join us in the conversation, “Let’s Talk”, at District Assembly, March 27-28th, 2015 in B3.

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Multigenerational Social Justice

Each week this month we are featuring social justice stories from various congregations.

First Unitarian Rochester, New York

The relationship between First Unitarian’s Honduras Project Task Force, the Global Health Program of the University of Rochester Department of Family Medicine, and the people of San Jose, Honduras, has yielded many transformations in quality of life for our Honduran partners: new water systems, cook stoves, scholarships, health care brigades, and tutoring, among others.

One element of this ongoing relational life is a yearly educational exchange of a lesson and an activity that both do. This year, First Unitarian’s children and youth designed 5 parachutes (one for each school) with words in Spanish and English for colors and colorful ties around the edges. In addition, Youth Group put together individual parachute kits for each child to decorate with colors and words to play with, in an effort to help kids have fun and learn basic English which they will need if they advance beyond 6th grade. Honduran children sent a parachute for RE with their pictures and words on it! Youth Group also hosted a Souper Sunday and will host a bake sale in the spring to continue their commitment to one student’s advancement to high school which they have sponsored for many years.

Syracuse, New York

Family FUUN Night
Family FUUN Night

Every month First UU Syracuse and May Memorial host a Family UU Night (FUUN) where we do some sort of social justice or community service activity. These events are open to anyone of any age from either church or from the community. We started this in August and so far we have stuffed backpacks for a back to school event, made care kits and collected socks to hand out to homeless people in our community, picked over 100 pounds of apples to donate to the food pantry, hosted a guest at your table potluck to raise money for the UUSC and helped the Eastern Farm Workers fulfill the Christmas wishes of families they serve. These events regularly draw 20-40 people and are a great way for newcomers to come try us out and meet new people. And, our teens spent a day volunteering to fix bikes for our city’s annual Christmas bike give away.

 

Evin Carvill-Ziemer, Congregational Life Staff

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CERG Youth Con Successes!

This is a post from the Con’s senior co-dean Lilly Kahris, information on bringing some of the programming to your congregation is at the end of this post.

I have found that car rides are a good time for thinking. I have been to 10+ youth conferences; many have which required a long drive. Usually I listen to music, or chat casually with the other people in the car, but yesterday’s drive was different. I spent my four hours reflecting on the past weekend, the second CERG Youth Conference.

This was a milestone in my youth career. I have been a conference dean before, but there was something really special about working with youth and adults from other districts to make this come together. Despite all of the cultural differences between each district, I think ultimately the event was successful, one that facilitated learning and personal growth for all.1383266_772502776145004_3708294956359316113_n

The programming we planned was a conglomerate of traditions. We made sure to include the dance for SLD youth, just as we included an “All-Con” game that was familiar to MNY and JPD youth. The workshops we planned proved to be a great success. We offered three workshops, broken down into two 1.5-hour sessions on a variety of topics. David Glasgow presented his “Empowering the Word” and “The Soul of the Song” workshops. Jess Halperin along with Eliza Steffen led a workshop on reproductive justice. Rounding off the exciting workshops, Eva Beal and Clare (lastname) led an Anti-Oppression, Anti-Racism workshop. Other highlights of the weekend included “People of Queer” and “People of Color” meetings, as well as an advisor workshop, where advisors from the different districts could get together and discuss advisor culture in their various districts

I found one of the most fulfilling parts of the whole con to be the Sunday morning worship service we did in partnership with the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Centre County. This was a multigenerational service where the youth and adults worked together to present a service about how as a region; we really are “better together.”

Overall, many lessons were learned this weekend. We learned that regionalization is a process, and will take time. Even though we worked out many kinks at the first CERG youth event last year, there were still many cultural differences. This was a fantastic learning experience, and gives me hope about youth regionalization movements in the future!

By Lilly Kahris

p.s. You might want to bring some of this programming to your congregation!

Eva Beal is the youth group coordinator for the First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh and loves working with UU youth on anti-oppression and service learning. Claire Galpern does community organizing with teenagers for a quality, just education system in Philadelphia.  Claire and Eva are all about youth leadership and making social justice work full of play, connection and fun!  They started doing anti-oppression work together in their UU youth group and are excited to share this journey with you. They are available to run programming at your church, just email Eva or Claire.

David Glasow is a UU musician and presenter on many topics related to worship and music. You can read all about what he has to offer here.

Eliza Steffen is working with her congregation to produce a curriculum so other churches can do the kind of social justice retreat she helped plan at the UU Church of Columbus Ohio. Email Director of Religious Education Lane Campbell if you’re interested in this resource.

Jessica Halperin works with the UUA’s Multicultural Growth and Witness Office on many topics including Reproductive Justice. To get in touch with that office look here.

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Intergenerational: Better Together

Between the evening of Friday October 10 and the morning of Monday October 13, sixty youth and twenty-two adults from across the Central East Regional Group gathered at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Centre County in State College PA. The second annual CERG youth con was a chance to connect with new and old friends, learn from other UU’s wisdom, and discover how we truly are better together. One thing that’s special about this con is that it draws the leaders from each district which creates a special atmosphere of cooperation, inclusion, and enthusiasm where those who normally run the cons get to experience the con.

Ella and Mitchell lead the congregation in song
Ella and Mitchell lead the congregation in song

Youth cons are also a special crucible of UU community—a chance to truly live covenant, to stretch to become more inclusive, and to build intentional intergenerational community. On Sunday morning, the youth and adults at the con joined the congregation for a shared worship service co-planned with youth leaders. The speakers had such insights into the magic of intergenerational community:

IMG_1034
Sarah Diaz speaks

From Sarah Diaz, an adult member of the congregation: “The presence and personality of every person of every age here at the Fellowship enriches this community. We share energy, optimism, humor, talents, attention, experience. Open your mind to the possibility of rich intergenerational relationships. Open your home or your heart to make connections with people older and younger than you. Open your eyes to see them, not just as they are now, but ask them about who they were and imagine who they may become. Open your ears to their voices. Spread your arms wide to embrace them. “

From Lars, a youth from the Unitarian Universalist Society of Schenectady: “I find that I truly enjoy the relationships with trusted adults that I do know. I can only imagine how nice it would be if every youth and adult was as close as the youth are to our advisors. One of the ways I feel that would help this is if adults understood took the time to

Lars

sit down and have a conversation thats longer than “Hi how are you?”, “good”, “Hows school going?” “good” “And what colleges are you at?” As a whole I find that meeting with different people keeps me inspired. Whether they may be a youth from and different district or if they are a trusting adult. The important thing is to know that everyone in this community values and supports you.”

Eva and Lars "power" pose before the service
Eva and Lars “power” pose before the service

From Eva Beal, a young adult from the First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh: “Something inside my 6 year old self knew that my 16 and 26 year old selves knew I was going to need a community like the one I’ve found in UUism. And the beauty of intergenerational community we get to connect to all age of ourselves: who we have been, who can and will be, and who we are now. And in this age stops becoming definitive and becomes liberatory.”

Following these reflections, youth and adults gathered in small groups to tell their stories of the challenges and blessings of intergenerational community and their longings. The conversations continued at social hour with the kind of connection and sharing we know both youth and adults long for with each other. So this year’s CERG Con was not only a chance to learn again how much we can learn from each other across district lines, but also a chance to relearn the power in human connection across age.

Evin Carvill-Ziemer, Congregational Life Staff

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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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Goldmine – Youth Leadership School

In 1991 Jaco Ten Hove and others in the Pacific Northwest started a grand experiment, adapting the idea of a week long leadership school into a leadership school for youth. I first encountered Goldmine trained youth leaders as co-leaders of training I was leading in 2005, and Wow! They were impressive. Articulate, self-assured, responsible, passionate. And they each told me, in some way, that Goldmine transformed them, gave them this confidence and capacity.

goldmine2This was something I wanted for our youth. And, a few years ago, it happened, Goldmine went continental and Metro New York had their first Goldmine in 2011. But one Goldmine isn’t enough for a whole region! So, in 2013 we started TWO Goldmines for the CERG region. One we dubbed “east” and one “west” (I know, creative). We have been joined in this effort by southern Ontario making this a truly “better together” effort.

And, as we hoped, we have been seeing the same transformation in our youth! From the manual, “GoldMine is not a camp or conference, but a concentrated series of workshops, reflection and sharing. The total experience equips young Unitarian Universalists with a foundation that deepens their religious development and expands their ability to contribute, both in their UU communities and in wider applications.”

Goldmine YouthGoldmine has a series of structured workshops in leadership skills, UU values and heritage, and leading worship co-led by youth and adults. Interwoven into this is a process of self-reflection on beliefs and values and multiple opportunities to lead and participate in community deepening worship. I have seen youth change before my eyes. And they leave with lifelong friends.

If you want to see your congregation’s youth ministry grow and transform, send your youth to Goldmine. Goldmine trained youth are serving in tremendous leadership positions across our region: as worship associates, co-chairing a regional team of youth leaders, as Youth Adult Committee leaders, as facilitators of training programs, as strong local youth leaders building the kind of local youth community every youth deserves.

Register here: rates increase on May 1st. http://www.cerguua.org/programs-74553/goldmine-53038.html

Evin Carvill-Ziemer

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