Youth Delegates at General Assembly
"Being a youth delegate is one of the most prestigious jobs at GA. Adults are expected to go, to vote, and to debate business; and when youth do these things, the value of their actions increase tenfold. When youth use their voice and share their ideas, it sends a message about our faith like nothing else can. Youth delegates are crucial to GA, because when Youth Caucus may want to show their support for a business item during assembly--or bring something forward they feel is not being mentioned--someone has to make those statements. Someone has to represent the youth.” -Isabelle McCurdy, Senior Business Manager for Youth Caucus 2016
General Assembly is the largest gathering of Unitarian Universalists in the world and the place we gather to decide what matters most to our larger faith. One of the ways our Association supports youth ministry in congregations is by encouraging congregations to send youth to General Assembly as a delegate representative. Last year, our youth delegates were crucial in drafting and passing the Action of Immediate Witness (AIW) supporting the Movement for Black Lives.
Here are a few things you need to know before you send a youth delegate to GA:
- ALL delegates, including youth, must be a member of their congregation. If your congregation's by-laws prevent youth membership, we highly recommend amending those by-laws as youth should be actively encouraged to participate in all aspects of congregational life.
- If possible your congregation should support your delegates in attending General Assembly, either by setting aside funds or through fundraising.
- If your congregation decides as a community how their delegates will vote at GA, make sure the youth delegates and other youth members are present for those conversations. Make sure they understand how the congregation reached their decision and equip them to represent your congregation. Daily meetings or check-ins are also a great way to support your youth and adult delegates on site should something arise that the group is unsure of how the congregation should respond (like the Action of Immediate Witnesses).
- Be ready for your youth delegates to come back energized and ready to take on challenges in your congregation, and make space for their leadership. Invite them to share a reflection about their experiences at General Assembly. Ask them to share their take on the governance of the Association with your congregation's leadership.
If you have any further questions about youth serving as delegates, please don't hesitate reach out. Send any questions or comments to youth [at] uua [dot] org.