Crossing the Border
It's amazing to watch the effects of the contagion of cooperation that seems to be springing up. When I first was employed by the Ohio Meadville District (as Young Adult Coordinator) from 2006-2009 I saw faint symptoms--a combined leadership school, a monthly phone call between young adult staff and cooperation on a few brochures. But so many of our events were still constrained by our boundaries, artificially imposed as they are. Once the idea of cooperation and crossing boundaries takes hold, though, it seems to just keep spreading! I just finished leading a youth and advisor training in Canton New York--way, way far north. It would not have been possible, financially, without participation from two Canadian congregations. It's not the only place where youth and adults are crossing that border. Last summer, Ariel Hunt-Brondwin, Youth and Young Adult Ministry Development for the Canadian Unitarian Council, was a key part of making the Goldmine Youth Leadership School happen for the western part of CERG. Canadian youth participated and even served as staff on both Goldmines. Since then youth from St. Lawrence crossed in to Canada for a youth con in Toronto, Canadians came to the Peer Chaplain training and will be at the Buffalo Con next weekend.
It's both a renewing of the historic connections across the St. Lawrence Seaway and a new willingness to cross borders of all kinds. We have had St. Lawrence youth at Ohio Meadville cons and Ohio Meadville youth at St. Lawrence Youth Adult Committee meetings. Young Adults are making the same invitations. It just makes sense--Cleveland is closer to Buffalo than Albany, Ottawa is practically next door to Canton.
Regionalization in some ways makes everything seem further away as the "center" of our region is further away than the center of our districts. But I'm seeing, at the same time, a willingness to turn and look across the borders behind us. And so paradoxically, we're actually able to make more happen. We'd never have been able to have that training in Canton without the Canadians. And more, their presence was deeply enriching in sharing new suggestions and insights and building more relationships. And many of those residents of NY and Canada realized they were going to see each other again--next weekend, driving the other way around the lake.
If you want to consider going north--there are two great events going coming up. The first is a Senior High Our Whole Lives weekend in Ottawa February 21-23rd. Second, there's a Spirituality Development Con outside of Toronto February 28-March 2nd. "This training is for youth, youth advisors, Religious Educators, seminarians and ordained clergy, and adult allies who are interested in learning more about how to better integrate worship and spirituality into their own lives and into the youth ministry in their community."
If you'd like to cross borders to the south, think about attending the htmultigenerational Spring Semintar o at he UU United Nations Office April 4-6. (l)
OMD Program Coordinator, SLD Youth Coordinator