Faith Architects: Let's Build Spiritual Homes!

By Annie Gonzalez Milliken

This blogpost was written by Julie Brock, the Project Coordinator for Faith Architects to explain the purpose and direction of this exciting new endeavor!–Ed.

Shape the Future of Faith

Faith Architects is a program designed to empower Unitarian Universalist young adults to use their gifts and talents to build a spiritual home within their own religion. Maybe this sounds crazy to you. Why would someone have to build a home in their own religion? Isn't it THEIR religion?

After growing up in the faith and being in leadership for several years, the best answer I can give is... sort of. I mean, the values and principles and basis of theology are all the same both as a child and an adult. We sing similar songs, and have similar outlooks on life. But having grown up in a faith where children are often sent out of the sanctuary and mainstream church life to their Religious Education classes I sometimes felt less spiritually important than the adults. And having been given the opportunity to build worship and community that works for us as youth, it was difficult to find out at age 18 that church isn't going to look like that anymore. We grow out of the spiritual shelters of our younger years and find ourselves spiritually homeless in our own religion.

This spiritual homelessness leads young adults to leave or caucus themselves away from the larger denomination. The problem with this separation is that it keeps the church from evolving, because the voices of youth are never properly heard. We don't get the narrative of those raised in the religion, so the story is continually broken. And the youth of the faith feel disenfranchised and discounted.

When UU young adults come together, we talk about our deep connective community based worship, and that it is sometimes difficult to attend or appreciate Sunday morning traditional worship. We talk about our fierce approach to social justice, and wonder if the wider faith is going far enough to use our church as an instrument that bends the arc of the Universe toward justice. We cherish the feeling of instant community that occurs when we gather, but sometimes have a hard time connecting the same way to folks in the congregations.

Now is the perfect time to take steps toward changing these dynamics. I want worship that works for me, I want a community I can feel at home in, I want to be part of a truly progressive faith, and I know that my fellow young adults and I can be an integral part of making these desires into reality.

Empowering young adults to do this transformational work is what Faith Architects is all about. The program isn't prescriptive leadership building. We are not pretending to be able to give out the answers, but we do believe that collectively we have them. Faith Architects believes that if we come together as strongly identified as Unitarian Universalist young adults and come up with collaborative strategies to bring to our congregations and communities, then we can begin to build a faith we all can call home.

Faith Architects is using conferences, similar to those many Young Adults feel culturally at home in, to furnish the tools and the refine the techniques young adults need to make reasonable changes in our congregations. It’s a collaboration to forward the entire faith! The first conference series of Faith Architects is set to launch in the fall of this year. As we speak teams of people are coming up with curricula that explore strategies for creating multigenerational community building, worship, and social justice experiences.

And we want to hear from you! What types of worship work for you, both in the sanctuary and at a conference? When did you feel really at home in Unitarian Universalism? When did you feel the religion was really moving in a just and inclusive direction?

Join the discussion and let's raise our collective voices!

 Julie Brock is a lifelong Unitarian Universalist from Detroit and is a candidate for UU ministry
Julie Brock

Julie Brock