Youth and Emerging Adult Realignment at the UUA

By Shannon Harper

Have you heard the exciting news about Youth and Emergent Adult Ministry (YEA) alignment across the UUA? If not, check out this video from the Lifespan Faith Engagement Office (LFE) where we explain what changes are being made and what lead to this reconfiguration of National and Regional YEA Specialists under one LFE umbrella.

Here’s a brief summary:

  • As of July 1st the positions of Youth and Emerging Adult Ministries Specialist in the Pacific West and Central East Regions (held by Eric Bliss and myself) are now a part of the Lifespan Faith Engagement Office.
  • There will be six positions - five specialists and one co-director - devoted to YEA Ministry in LFE, in addition to admin and tech support. Each of these specialists will also be a liaison to a different region of the UUA, building relationships and eventually supporting localized events (this will happen differently in each region).
  • YEA in LFE is committed to supporting ministry with young people on a congregational, cluster and regional level, bolstering the work of religious professionals, and providing resources and consultation for congregations wishing to skill-up their YEA ministry or host gatherings for YEAs.
  • YEA in LFE will continue to provide quality programs for BIPoC YEAs, and YEAs interested in leadership, social justice, spiritual and community care, etc.

The latest news, is that I will be the new LFE Co-Director responsible for YEA Ministry. You can view that official announcement on the UUA website.

Bookmark type of item with green plants on it with the sections: What is YEA Ministry Growing? 1. Faith Engagement, 2. Inspiring Congregation, 3. National Connections, 4. Local Gatherings with detailed paragraphs for each item.

I cannot express to you how happy I was when the Central East hired me 6 years ago to be the Youth and Young Adult Ministry Coordinator. Since then I had a title change to Specialist; attended dozens of CONs, trainings, workshops and council meetings; lead many summer immersions; crashed some LREDA meetings and retreats; invested heavily in earplugs and tea lights; started a podcast; and designed a leadership school. But most importantly I have had the opportunity to meet and work with some of the most amazing people that I now call colleagues and friends. Watching youth and EAs grow up in CER has given me immense pleasure and I’m so thrilled that the ministries we’ve worked on over these years will continue to emerge and grow in this new structure.

So what does all of this mean to YEA ministry in Central East Region? LFE has covenanted with the regions to ensure there will not be a loss of programs as we transition into an equitable system for the whole country. However, due to the pandemic, area gatherings like in person CONs, trainings and Youth Councils have been on hold for over two years. We need to rebuild structure and leadership. There are plans in the works to hire several adjunct staff who will work with the new CER liaison, congregations and youth leaders on rebuilding a regional structure and offering small scale gatherings at first. The CER liaison will also be reaching out to religious professionals to open communication channels. Evin Carvill-Ziemer will continue to support YEA ministry as well. And finally, as Co-Director of LFE, I am always available to answer questions, talk more about the alignment and the LFE vision and hear your concerns or ideas.

I am so excited about this new chapter, for both myself and CER YEA ministry, and incredibly grateful for all the gifts CER has given me. Our mascot on the CER staff team is a meerkat, because meerkats are playful, cooperative, communicative, creative and they always look out for each other, especially the younger ones. I will take this charge with me into LFE. Thank you. #onceameerkatalwaysameerkat.

About the Author

Shannon Harper

Shannon Harper joined the Lifespan Faith Engagement Office as Co-Director in the summer of 2022. Previously, Shannon worked with the Central East Region since the Fall of 2016.

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