I have found that car rides are a good time for thinking. I have been to 10+ youth conferences; many have which required a long drive. Usually I listen to music, or chat casually with the other people in the car, but yesterday’s drive was different. I spent my four hours reflecting on the past weekend, the second CERG Youth Conference.This was a milestone in my youth career. I have been a conference dean before, but there was something really special about working with youth and adults from other districts to make this come together. Despite all of the cultural differences between each district, I think ultimately the event was successful, one that facilitated learning and personal growth for all.
The programming we planned was a conglomerate of traditions. We made sure to include the dance for SLD youth, just as we included an “All-Con” game that was familiar to MNY and JPD youth. The workshops we planned proved to be a great success. We offered three workshops, broken down into two 1.5-hour sessions on a variety of topics. David Glasgow presented his “Empowering the Word” and “The Soul of the Song” workshops. Jess Halperin along with Eliza Steffen led a workshop on reproductive justice. Rounding off the exciting workshops, Eva Beal and Clare (lastname) led an Anti-Oppression, Anti-Racism workshop. Other highlights of the weekend included “People of Queer” and “People of Color” meetings, as well as an advisor workshop, where advisors from the different districts could get together and discuss advisor culture in their various districts
I found one of the most fulfilling parts of the whole con to be the Sunday morning worship service we did in partnership with the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Centre County. This was a multigenerational service where the youth and adults worked together to present a service about how as a region; we really are “better together.”
Overall, many lessons were learned this weekend. We learned that regionalization is a process, and will take time. Even though we worked out many kinks at the first CERG youth event last year, there were still many cultural differences. This was a fantastic learning experience, and gives me hope about youth regionalization movements in the future!
By Lilly Kahris
p.s. You might want to bring some of this programming to your congregation!
Eva Beal is the youth group coordinator for the First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh and loves working with UU youth on anti-oppression and service learning. Claire Galpern does community organizing with teenagers for a quality, just education system in Philadelphia. Claire and Eva are all about youth leadership and making social justice work full of play, connection and fun! They started doing anti-oppression work together in their UU youth group and are excited to share this journey with you. They are available to run programming at your church, just email Eva or Claire.
David Glasow is a UU musician and presenter on many topics related to worship and music. You can read all about what he has to offer here.
Eliza Steffen is working with her congregation to produce a curriculum so other churches can do the kind of social justice retreat she helped plan at the UU Church of Columbus Ohio. Email Director of Religious Education Lane Campbell if you're interested in this resource.
Jessica Halperin works with the UUA's Multicultural Growth and Witness Office on many topics including Reproductive Justice. To get in touch with that office look here.