Regional Youth Ministry Surges

By Carey McDonald

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.