Pastoral Care To and With Youth
Let’s be frank. The world changed on November 9th, 2016 (the day Donald Trump was elected president of the United States). For many of us our day-to-day experiences may not be much different, we still move through the world with varying levels of privilege and marginalization. And yet, for people of all ages, we are changed. Our eyes are open more widely, our hearts are breaking more deeply and our need for community support is more acute. What’s more, reactions to the election are but a small facet of the complexities we navigate, and this includes our Unitarian Universalist (UU) youth. In addition to being keenly aware of how a Trump presidency may effect their lives and the lives of their friends, family and peers, they continue to deal with grief, loss, stress, transition and loneliness. Teens have struggles unique to their age and life stage like bullying, identity development, teen suicide, addiction, and pressures to succeed in school.
“We must create communities of care that can hold and support our youth as they negotiate coming of age in the 21st century,” says Jennica Davis-Hockett, who serves in the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries with a leadership development portfolio and is the author of “Bringing the Web to Life,” a youth ministry curriculum which includes sessions on active listening as an important element of pastoral care.
“Thankfully, Unitarian Universalism is a relational faith,” says Nancy Combs-Morgan, who in addition to serving as the Faith Development Program Manager for the MidAmerica Region of the UUA, has a Level II Clinical Pastoral Education certification with 14 years of experience in providing pastoral care. “In our wide spectrum of beliefs we share a thoughtful intent to exhibit deep care for one another. Our youth model this intent of deep care in so many ways.”
Adults serving in UU youth ministry often wonder how to best provide appropriate pastoral care for individuals and how to create communities of care through traditions and rituals so that youth know they can turn to their spiritual communities in hard times. For youth ministry leaders seeking to expand their ability to demonstrate and nurture deep care, there is a super opportunity to expand your pastoral care skills coming up in December.
We invite you to take part in the Pastoral Care To and With Youth webinar, which is the fourth offering in a series of Youth Ministry Competencies webinars. Join us December 8th at 8:00pm EST or December 13th at 1pm EST by registering at uua.org/ymwebinars.
In this 75 minute virtual learning experience, we will share ideas and skills on how to: appropriately share concerns about youth with the youth ministry team including religious educator and minister; include youth in caring for faith community members; know when to seek personal pastoral care; and inform youth of the limits of confidentiality such as in a covenant. Our goal is that youth ministry leaders will understand the importance of active listening, confidentiality, and when and how to expand confidentiality to include additional help.