Embarking on a life of ministryAn Open Letter to UU Ministers and Religious Professionals,
Three summers ago, I had the absolute privilege of attending Summer Seminary as part of its pilot year in Boston. Summer Seminary is a program run by the Unitarian Universalsit Association (UUA) that brings youth together from all over the country to learn about becoming religious professionals. These youth share a passion for ministry, religious education or music ministry. Throughout the program they learn from seminary faculty, UUA staff, and current religious professionals about all the pieces that go into a life of religious service. My year, we had speakers who shared about their social justice centered UU community ministry. This showed us that ministry, even ordained ministry, could be different than the model of parish ministry the majority of us grew up with. Additionally we spent time learning about the necessity of a strong spiritual life as we pursue ministry. Our guides shared their personal spiritual practices and we held space for worship and prayer. My cohort decided to wake up extra early one day, and hold a sunrise worship on the Boston Common. I remember shivering in the morning air of the common and seeing the ducks on the pond as we sang and prayed together. It was a special moment of connection for us that we hold onto even several years later.
Summer Seminary gives our youth life-changing resources. From conversations with seminary representatives to a session with a professor of preaching, this short time together is just bursting with opportunity. But it’s so much more than a series of brilliant workshops. Summer Seminary takes the youth who have just started to wonder if religious leadership might be part of their lives, and tells them that it is possible. It takes these incredible youth, who probably haven’t met another young person who shares their goals, and brings them together for a week of learning and community building. Summer Seminary tells these youth that their passion for our Unitarian Universalist faith is shared by a group of peers. It tells them that it is ok to be fifteen years old and to know in your heart that you are going to spend the rest of your life loving and teaching people as a minister in our faith. Summer Seminary takes our youths’ commitment toUnitarian Universalist leadership seriously.
THE DEADLINE TO APPLY TO SUMMER SEMINARY 2016 is MONDAY, FEBRUARY 1! DO IT NOW!
It’s an amazing program that has brought discernment and clarity into the lives of so many youth already. And it is a program that I suspect would benefit so many more youth in our denomination if they really knew about it, and felt empowered to participate. So this is where you all come in. We need all of our youth leaders to know about this program. I want you to think about your youth groups and the youth in your congregations. Who shows a serious commitment to Unitarian Universalism? Who do you see as being part of the next generation of UU ministers, religious educators or credentialed musicians? Seek out these youth and tell them about Summer Seminary. Tell them that you see their potential and their commitment. Tell them that you take them seriously, and that Summer Seminary is a chance to begin discerning their calling. It matters for our youth to have the leaders that we look up to personally suggest programs for us. And I promise that when you send your youth, you are going to get youth back who are brimming with enthusiasm and passion for Unitarian Universalism, who are going to continue this well into their adult lives.
Three years ago I attended Summer Seminary 2013 “The Originals.” Three days ago I hit submit on my actual applications for seminary. This program really does change lives and kick-start callings. I hope you will take a little time to cultivate the future leaders of our faith by promoting Summer Seminary.Thanks, Jaimie Dingus Summer Seminary Class of 2013