UU Youth Ministry Ecosystem Reporting on the Youth Ministry Visioning Week – Day 3

This post is part of a series of report-outs from the 2021 Youth Ministry Visioning Week. You can read an overview of the week and a summary of day 1: Articulating the Mandate for Youth Ministry Across our Denomination in Stevie Carmody’s article on Day 1: What Calls us On. Then review Anna Bethea's post on Reckoning With the Past (Day 2).

UU Youth Ministry Ecosystem

As part of the Lifespan Faith Engagement’s Youth Ministry Visioning Week, youth ministry program staff, UUA leadership and youth and young adults engaged in conversations around current and potential UUA youth ministry programs and support.

During programming day Day 3), youth ministry program staff generated a massive yet not totally comprehensive list of all the youth ministry programs and supports UUA staff provides. It became clear that we need to offer better ways for young people and families to access and navigate this abundance. We played around with the metaphor of an ecosystem to describe the variety of youth ministry offerings and sat with the knowledge that in a thriving ecosystem everything must be interconnected, symbiotic and emergent.

We know that some youth currently have a lot more access to UUA offerings than others because of geography or finances. We know UUA leadership needs to invest in resourcing congregations for vital youth ministry that centers our young people who are Black, indigenous and people of color, our queer and trans and our disabled youth. Working in partnership with congregations and UU related/adjacent organizations is paramount to ensuring that every youth has access to the life affirming community and spiritual development that we dream about.

I can sum up what we explored on day 3: Programs and Supports for Youth in one sentence:

The UUA’s designated youth ministry employees must focus on

  • Accessibility
  • Communication
  • Covenant restoration
  • Resourcing congregations and
  • Trauma informed approaches

So that youth have access to

  • Discernment
  • Meaning making
  • Replenishment and rejuvenation
  • Resilience building
  • Embodied practices
  • Social justice actions
  • Theological exploration
  • Spiritual guidance/direction
  • Preparation for life’s transitions
  • Healing
  • Agency
  • Influence
  • Grounding
  • Accountable, trusted mentors
  • Belonging
  • Peer support
  • Confirmation of their own truth/lived experience
  • Connecting to our past, and
  • Processing change


  • Toolkits
  • Community
  • Intergenerational storytelling
  • Participating in decision making
  • Information
  • Conflict transformation
  • A disability justice framework
  • Financial support
  • Treating youth as the whole, complex people that they are, and
  • Disrupting patterns that induce trauma.

Ok that’s a really long sentence. You could make a truthful statement from just about any combination above:

  • UUA’s designated youth ministry employees must focus on covenant restoration so that youth have access to healing through community.
  • UUA’s designated youth ministry employees must focus on accessibility so that youth have access to replenishment and rejuvenation through financial support.
  • UUA’s designated youth ministry employees must focus on communication so that youth have access to agency and influence through participating in decision making.

In the comments share the combinations that inspire you.

As we turned to theme of Safety and Care we carried these truths with us. You can access Alex Sherwood's blog post on Care and Safety