In this charge to the gathered congregation of the UUA's General Assembly 2021, Anna Bethea—the Director of Lifespan Faith Engagement—calls on the faith to support and hold these young people as they bridge from youthhood to young adulthood. Watch or read their words below!
Bridging Asks A Question
The moment of bridging is a question posed to our whole community. Bridging asks the question: As our young people show up in our communities in new ways, how will we show up for them? Will we change alongside them, as they roll on?
To us, the General Assembly, the congregation of congregations, I charge us to extend a network of hospitality and welcome to Bridging Youth, whether they are staying put or going forth into a new community. Practices of hospitality mean asking the question, “What do you need?” and offering the responsiveness and openness that comes from really listening—that type of listening that communicates, “We are and will be changed by you.”
And it means offering practical care to and for young adults: rides to worship services and actions and home from jail, meals and fellowship, checking in regularly, sending along care packages.
Your youth and young adult staff in the Office of Lifespan Faith Engagement is here to partner with you in this hospitality and support for youth and young adults. Get connected.
In that spirit, I charge us to recognize and engage with the unique and crucial faith formation phase that is the beginning of young adulthood. Now is a time when Unitarian Universalist young people are encountering and wrestling with an often harsh and dehumanizing world. Young people need the ministries and theologies of Unitarian Universalism in conversation with their experiences, the clarity of our liberatory values, and the solace of faith community to hold us in this growth.
I charge us to take seriously the leadership and brilliance of young people themselves within our communities. When we say, “you are the present of our faith,” that means co-creating decision-making tables that take their voices seriously. That means valuing their labors of leadership. That means nurturing and offering sustenance to them, so that they may abide in their faith for the long-term.
I charge us then to remember our history and to put our resources where our commitments are. I charge us to invest in and support young adult ministries within our congregations, at local campuses, within your clusters, and across our regions and continent. We see the good work of Unitarian Universalist young people rebuilding and rejuvenating their movement for themselves in community. We ask that our broader Unitarian Universalist community support the good work of young adult ministries like the Young Unitarian Universalists Project and the Young Adult Revival Network. We ask that we break the cycle of disinvestment in ministries to young people.
The moment of bridging poses a question, and it will keep posing this question year after year. Commit and recommit and repair and grow. This is our work. This is our charge. If you, the gathered congregation of General Assembly, will commit to this charge, speak aloud at home and write in the chat an “Amen,” an “I will”, a “Blessed be,” or whatever affirmation sings from your heart.
Amen, ashé and blessed be.