Did you know youth who are members of their congregation can represent their congregation at General Assembly by serving as delegates and voting in General Session (aka "Previously Plenary" aka "GenSesh" aka the way we conduct the business of the association)? Talk to your congregation's leaders as soon as you can to start the process. They may be able to financially support your way to General Assembly. You're also encouraged to apply for a scholarship because serving as a delegate increases your chance of getting a scholarship. The deadline to apply for scholarships is March 31st, so now is the time! Hannah Rigdon, Sr. Business Manager for Youth Caucus has some words of wisdom about the importance of youth serving as delegates: In all seriousness though, being a youth delegate really is the key to having an amazing General Assembly. There are not a lot of communities in which adults affirm youth under the age of 18 as capable, informed and equal participants of a governing structure, so you should take advantage of it! Perks of being a delegate include: When you're a delegate you're able to speak at the microphone and vote during General Session, which means that you play an essential role in deciding the future of our faith. General Sessions also serve as a critical way in which we, as Unitarian Universalists, practice the Fifth Principle- use of the democratic process. Being a delegate offers a unique opportunity to take the UU values we all share and contemplate the best ways to put them into practice as an Association. This GA is an especially exciting year to be a delegate because we are voting on the next president of the UUA. And this is an historic election because it is the first time we have had 3 (three!!) female candidates. In choosing the next leader of our faith, it is especially important to have youth voices be represented because we are choosing our future. Speaking from personal experience, my status as a youth delegate proved to be transformative to my General Assembly experience in 2016. My delegate status and voting responsibility got me involved and invested in the issues being voted on and compelled me to help be the change I wanted to see in our faith. In response to the disappointment I felt after the racial justice Congregational Study Action Issue lost the vote last year, I helped author and pass a responsive resolution with several other youth to call our association to recommit to racial justice. It is a powerful experience to see your own words being passed out to voters and projected on the screen. However, it is even more powerful to stand on a stage and look out into a sea of bright green voting cards in the air, affirming your words and beliefs. While any GA attendee can write a resolution or participate in a mini-assembly, only delegates are allowed to vote on what comes out of those. It is a lot more meaningful to get involved in the business process when you can vote on your own actions! Delegates are congregation-specific, so in order to become one, ask your minister or DRE to help you figure out what the selection process is like at your congregation. Plus, some congregations may offer financial assistance for youth delegates to get to GA, so it doesn’t hurt to ask! And don’t worry if you are feeling overwhelmed by the responsibility. Annalee Durland-Jones, Jr. Business Manager and I are here specifically to help you navigate what can seem like a daunting task.
We, as youth, bring the unexpected ideas, the unanswered questions and the unexplored routes.When we make the choice to speak up, stand with, or second an action, we are amplifying the voices of all the unrepresented youth. So go to your congregation right now and become a Youth Delegate. Do it for all of us!