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Regional Youth Ministry Surges
Regional Youth Ministry Surges
Hanging out with youth leaders and adult staff from the Central East Regional Group (CERG) last weekend, I'm convinced something new and wonderful is going on. Youth programs and events have traditionally been at district and national levels, so the idea of in-between regionally-based youth ministry offers exciting possibilities. Rather than crowding out established district programs like youth conferences (cons) which already bring tremendous value, regional youth ministry allows for a broader focus on creating the multigenerational communities called for in the 2009 Youth Ministry Working Group report. Why regions? For one, the UUA's five regions draw on a level of diversity not found in most of its 19 districts. CERG has congregations that are rural, urban and suburban; tiny fellowships and enormous established churches; racially, ethnically and socio-economically diverse religious communities; churches that are hundreds of years old and brand new congregations that just joined the UUA. Thinking regionally also allows staff to pool resources in ways that strengthen regional priorities. For example, one of the action items coming out of the retreat was better coordination of youth leadership trainings across districts. This would allow all trainings to be provided on a 3-4 year cycle (to match the high school timeline) but wouldn't place the burden on any one district. Here are a few more fabulous ideas to come out of the retreat:
  • Planning for a regional youth con or assembly
  • A regional network of support for youth advisors and youth ministry professionals
  • Exchanges and visits between district Youth/Adult Committees (YACs) and District Youth Steering Committees (DYSCs)
  • Improved communication about events, opportunities and resources across the region
Can't wait to see what comes next! Comprised of the Ohio-Meadville, St. Lawrence, Joseph-Priestly and Metro New York Districts, CERG runs from Long Island to Ohio, and from the Canadian border to Virginia. Visit the CERG website to learn more.

About the Author

  • Carey McDonald is the UUA's acting Chief Operating Officer, helping to implement the President's agenda and overseeing major staff operations. He previously served as the UUA Outreach Director and the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries, and is a former lay member of...

Comments (6)

John MacGaffey (not verified) 5 years 9 months ago

I've also thought a fair amount about this, and I think it would be such a wonderful and exciting support system for youth ministry groups in the country. In fact, the Conference Advisory Team (which primarily serves the Mass Bay district area) and the Young Unitarian Universalist Ministry Initiative (which serves much of the rest of New England) have already begun establishing a relationship with each other. Since neither group is officially recognized by respective district administrations, but still carries out youth empowerment ministry (including helping plan cons), I see that regional support as being extremely beneficial in the long run.

conadvisoryteam.org
yuumi.org

Carey McDonald (not verified) 5 years 9 months ago

John - Thanks for your comment. The two biggest strengths I saw from the CERG retreat were 1) the inclusion of current youth and their ability to lead the conversation (as opposed to former youth like me), and 2) the cooperation of youth leaders with staff that can help realize the shared vision.

I'm glad to know there is some energy in the Mass Bay District, and I know the Northern New England District also hosted a Youth Assembly earlier this year. I hope that folks are able to work with district staff, since we're stronger when we work together.

Karen LoBracco (not verified) 5 years 9 months ago

An additional strength I noticed at the CERG Youth Summit was the ability of all the participants to come up with new and innovative solutions to challenges among themselves. Instead of expecting someone to give money or staff to "fix" something, they looked at what resources they could offer for the common goal. What a joy it was to watch fences and silos being dismantled to build a new way!

Kim Paquette (not verified) 5 years 9 months ago

The staff of the New England Region (NNED, MBD, CBD and BCD) are actively working together to strengthen and support youth minstry in our Region. This has been a very natural progression of our collaborative work together. Exciting things are happening here!!

Chester Escorts (not verified) 5 years 9 months ago

In fact, the Conference Advisory Team (which primarily serves the Mass Bay district area) and the Young Unitarian Universalist Ministry Initiative (which serves much of the rest of New England) have already begun establishing a relationship with each other.

Ryan Shriver (not verified) 5 years 9 months ago

At a recent Renaissance Module in the CMW district, we pined for a regional youth con or assembly for this very reason--our youth groups are really taking off! I think that this would be a fantastic event and very moving for everyone.

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