Supporting Youth and Young Adults

By Shannon Harper

Treehouse with a boardwalk and the word welcome

If you attended virtual General Assembly last month, you probably read or at least heard about the Responsive Resolution that was adopted: Supporting and Investing in Youth and Young Adults in Unitarian Universalism. [Resolutions passed during GA 2020 are availble to read in their entirety.] This Responsive Resolution, along with others that have been adopted at previous GAs, calls our Association of Congregations and those who serve and work for that Association into better accountability with our young people in response to the Commission on Institutional Change Report that came out a few weeks before GA*. The Commission’s report is very clear that along with other systemic changes, supporting and investing in youth and young adults is necessary for our faith to survive and thrive in the future. This Responsive Resolution is an invitation for UUs at every level, from the president of our association to the presidents of our congregations, from the Youth Ministry Roundtable to the ministers, religious educators and youth advisors serving in congregations and covenanting communities - for us all to examine how we can resource and support healthy, equitable and sustaining youth and young adult programs, not just for the people who currently fall under that umbrella but for all the babies and children who will one day be there and for all the lives,of all ages, who these young people will grow up and touch. Youth and Young Adult Ministry is not just a diversion on the way to being a “full fledged adult”. It is an integral part of the continuum of faith development. Investing in young people is investing in ourselves, and it’s contributing to the world. Just look at how many ministers, religious educators, organizers, healers, artists and change-makers credit their experiences as UU youth and young adults to the paths they are on.

In the coming months and year I look forward to not just talking and imagining how we can make this responsive resolution a reality but putting our resources, policies and work behind it. I believe there is room for so much possibility and can’t wait to get started!

And speaking of youth programs, here’s a taste of what is being offered for Middle School to High School youth this summer.

  • CER Summer Treehouse - now until September - is a drop-in community for teens who completed 9th-12th grades this spring (rising 10th-graduated youth). We’ve created an online space through Mighty Networks where youth will be able to connect, talk, and plan events together. This community is fueled by community members so they are only limited to what they can imagine they want to do. So far they’ve planned a mixer, youth-lead worship and a D&D group. They also have places to share art and music, and plans to do interactive workshops, games, spiritual practices, etc. This is open to any youth in the Central East Region and is free to join.
  • Virtual Middle School Camp - August 6-10 - is in the works. For youth who graduated from 6-8th grades (rising 7-9th graders) Registration will be up soon.
  • UU Faith Lab - spanning July - Faith Lab is an engaging online summer program for high school aged Unitarian Universalists who’ve completed grads 9-12 (or homeschool equivalent) that happens July 10th through 31st. Faith Lab is a chance to explore spiritual leadership, learn alongside UU spiritual teachers, and experiment with mystery, faith and wonder.
  • Camping in the Grove - August 2-6 - for Rising 4th-8th graders, Murray Grove’s traditional camp is going virtual this year with lots of the traditional offerings and more!

* Note that the COIC report is now available for purchase from the UUA Bookstore, a copy is being sent to each congregation and you can currently, as of July 6, download a pdf from the report page.

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.

For more information contact .