Synergy Bridging Worship, General Assembly 2020

Program Description

This is a transformative multigenerational worship. Come be inspired and illuminated at a celebration of treasured worship elements, rites of passage and brilliant contemporary musical performances.

Bridgers (youth transitioning to young adulthood) were invited to be honored at the service by submitting their name, congregation and/or a short video clip by June 10th.

Rough Edited Captioning

​CART captioning provided by Alternative Communication Services, LLC.

This is being provided in a rough-draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings.

>> Let us begin by thanking or song leader Joshua Long. Thank you for the beautifully crafted arrangements and your caring song readings. Welcome to this year's synergy workshop. My name is Anna and I'm the director of the black foot engaging office. We've arrived at the time where the community of Unitarian Universalists honor publicly those who are transitioning from youthhood to young adulthood. In so doing we affirm the promise of our multi generational faith and recommit to the work of making it so. We arise in the midst of uprising, in the midst of pandemic, in the midst of our grief, struggle, and joy. We arrive as youth who have had our last two months turned on its head, discovering both the grief and loss of this moment and resilience and possibility of the next. We arise as youth and children anticipating our own time of bridging, hoping that the community will show up for us as we come of age. We arrive as young adults remembering our own moments of bridging as we continue to reckon with our place in this movement. We arrive as both adults and elders, rooted in the generational wisdom that tells us that the strengths and longevity of our Unitarian Universalism rests in how we invest in those who come after us. And in some ways this year we are not arriving all together. The team that originally planned this workshop, members of the young adults at general assembly and the general assembly youth team made a decision to withdraw from leading this year to honor their time and labor. Their decision holds us into deeper consideration of how youth are part of the decision making and governance of our denomination. Their actions asks us to live more deeply into our values for young people. As a team the course of action the UUA staff who accompanied these teams assured them they would hold what is essential including this bridging service. In that spirit we seek to honor this moment or know that this year sin energy will feel different. We'll turn over together reflections and wisdom from past synergy services woven together around our worship.


>> Unmuting now. My name is Stevie Carnegie. I work with young adults through our office. The synergy planning team including Molly goth freed, Cathy Williams, shock, and reverend Hannah, Robert Zonig, they gave us the gift, product of their deep theological work together. It's the themes that will work its way through this service. Throughout our childhood and youth, it's as if we are being held in a container that encourages our growth and connects us to resources and balances our PH levels. Somewhere in that time we have these moments as processes of decay, growth, turning take place has borne and transform us to in turn nourish and be nourished by our community in faith. As we bridge young adulthood we don't just dispose of all that has grown in our complex container but rather take responsibility to spread and fertilize and contribute to all the communities we join and enrich and remain in.

The team also wrestled with what resonance of class and race might hang on to our ideas of compost, of who composts, of how structures of oppression and privilege impact where soil and water is polluted and who has access to land to grow things. We didn't put down these realities. They inform the larger truth we affirm and see in the metaphorical composting. That with care communities have all we need to heal and resist and transform and thrive. May this metaphor that we have been given as a gift inform how we approach this moment of transition.

>> Hey y'all, my name is reverend Sarah Green and I support our youth and young adults of color. We send our energy to Althea Bernstein, one of our incredible young adults of color, was once again targeted by evil. We simultaneously hold our anger and the rigor with which we must show up to the work so that one day we'll live in a world where black people can live free from fear and violence. If you need to speak to a chaplain, please reach out. We do not bear the burden alone. And if you like to help with community care efforts, please contact services.

>> In a spirit of reverence for the sacred, let us all light our chalices together. Reminded of the transcendent and timeless and also the emergent and ever changing nature of our tradition. You may join me in reciting these words from reverend Angela Herera's poem in the garden as we kindle our chalices together.

We love work, the kids and I. We watch the disgusting things blindly navigate the soil swimming in our ancestors, feeding each generation with nutrients from the last. My vegetables soak it up reaching for the sun. Like my children who get taller every year only to return to the dirt some day along with their mother. My heart breaks but swells with this notion of our time together and prayers.

>> My name is Alex Sherwood and I work with youth and young adults through our office of lifespan engagement. Health in a container, dearth and organic matter may become soil but the farmer knows well that it's an intricate balance, one that depends on processes sometimes beyond our control. To turnover the compost to add the right ingredients at the right time and lovingly trust in the decay and growth that will occur. So too we tend to the growth and development of our young people, chosen biological families, in our congregations at camps and conference centers, in our many communities of caring connection, just like compost it can be an expensive process, one that enriches and creates richness of spirit. Yet returning to the wisdoms of our youthhood can be a complex thing in the years that follow bridges may turn over and grow and live with these memories that forces the shape to take on new meaning. There are no parts of the process we turn away from. There are parts of the process we turn away from in a sacred no and there are others we integrate powerfully and care into the moment itself. Iana coffee spoke last year of the sacred container of her youth that was the punk rock scene. To hear her recollection may we reflect on forces that made growing into ourselves possible. Quote, punk rock changed my life. It was a parachute when I was free falling. It was beans and rice and spiced kale before I even new of kitchen witchery. It was a world when my head phones didn't offer any, open arms, inclusion and my very own activist ferry God mother. It unsettled the status quo and whispered that I didn't have to accept less than humane treatment, that no one has to. In my earliest years listening was baptism and I was reborn, named riot. The first time that I died my hair was a late Friday night in a bestfriend's basement window. We passed the time under plastic caps to the sound of dead milk man and the queers, perfectly collaged into our depth of normality hair dye mix tape. That night we were belly laughing, snarls and bubble gum. We were pink and raspberry top, jeweled middle like oversized treasure trolls. Punk rock changed our life. That long weekend we took to the woods and sang moldy peaches and pixies by the lite light of ourself lit glamp fire down tree lined paths in thrift store boots as if it was our familiar city sidewalk, giving our hearts to the very earth we sprung from. The things that have been left behind can easily be a parachute, long since rendered useless, filling the air we race towards the future towards our next incarceration of ourselves. The things that have been left behind can also be an origin story, a foundation that is never erased was built upon. Our paths are collage of songs. Some happened to us like a dance party to a stranger's pick on the jukebox. Others are made, like off key screening where is my mind in both bridal sweeps and gym bathrooms somehow overlapping with each other in faded memory and some seem to be written into your very DNA, like that moment where you put on the New York station and listening so hard your gray world turns tech any color.

>> My name is Jenna David Hokett and I work with youth in our office. Over the past ten years, the Katy Pison fund for youth and young adult ministry has supported the young people of our movement in their leadership and safe development through scholarships for comprehensions and workshops and projects. As the rev walker reminded us last year the Kate Tyson fund is dedicated to the living memory of Katy Tyson, a UU young adult who died in a car accident coming home from general assembly. The reverend Kate has been the minister to Katie's family serving as Mount Vernon Unitarian church in Alexandria Virginia and as Kate described last year, quote, Katy tie son grew up in my church. She served on our board, regularly attended, and was a leader at Coms, mentored young members, served on the district board, and went on to be a lay leader at the Arlington street church while attending Boston College. Katy had two career paths, one in bio statistics and one as a UU minister. Neither happened, he understand quote.

Katy parents, Karen and Herb, envisioned the fund and worked tirelessly to put it into place along with Kate. Over the years we have lost both her and Karen to cancer and out of our community's grief, a consistent and life changing support for young people has grown through the fund. May their family be a blessing. Your gift to the Katy Tyson fund for youth and young adult ministries will now be greatfully received. There are several ways that you can donate today as part of this general assembly. You can donate via the GA mobile app by selecting more in the bottom right corner of the app home screen. Second, you could text Katy, Katie to 91999 on your smartphone or tablet. Third, you can donate online by going to fit.LY/UUA/Katy on your computer.

All GA collection gifts are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law and even if you no longer itemize on your federal taxes, the cares Act recently created by Congress created a 300 dollar universal deduction for charitable donations made in 2020.


>> We'll sing this first hymn, lean on me, by the late Bill Whithers who left us such a beautiful Song. Sing with me.


>> Please swallow.


>> Mm hmm. (chuckles) so let's carry forward this metaphor from compost. We nay not be able to pinpoint the moment of transformation when dirt becomes soil. Somewhere in that process when all that we have been tending in ourselves and in our communities becomes an enriched gift that in turn nourishes the world. So reverend Hannah, Robert still, both of this moment as a quote moments of elemental transformation, like alchemy, but not magic. It's made up of natural processes. The thing you have been, it's not that you aren't that anymore; it's that you are becoming something else. Bridgers, may you trust in moments of elemental transformation. It might not be happening right now. It may have happened long ago in a church basement or under a starry sky or out on the street protesting. And it may yet to be revealed to you. In 2017 Valerie David Humphrey spoke to a moment like this, a bewildering realization that made the next moment possible. Quote, my story began with cat Stevens. In 2011 when I first came to my congregation, when I first sat down in the sanctuary back when we still had this atrocious green carpet, I sang my first hymn. Of course it was cat Stevens, morning has broken. I remember sitting there in the stifling heat overdressed because I thought it would be like my grandmother's church and it felt like a beginning. We were there sit being sing being first mornings and first grass and I thought this meant that I was being reborn. What I failed to realize though was that I had been singing cath Stevens for a long, long time. As a matter of fact, almost as long as I could remember, my mother played peace of the till letterman on long road trips in between Aladdin and Winnie the Pooh cassettes and since then cath Stevens has popped up throughout my own experiences as a peace train being played as a church fundraiser, a reference in a short film played at my very first youth con. It's all very random. Quick flashes of familiarity and an association spent in growth. Again, when I was coming home from my last youth event, morning has broken popped up on my iPad and in the moment I recall feeling incredibly disappointed. You see, at that point I thought ending as arriving at a time in life when there are things, places that you can no longer return to but I was still caught up in the beginning and endings that I forgot about the middle. I could only see that I was no longer at the beginning so I assumed I was at the end. But I am in the middle, the middle of my journey as a new you, the middle of figuring things out, the middle of life we are all in the middle.

>> I invite us now into a time of prayer and meditation. So why don't we take some time to get grounded with our bodies. Perhaps so we can place a handover your heart and perhaps place another land on a surfaces in front of you, send some energy into and through your body in another way that works.

In. Out. From the center of our being through our extremities down into the floor and into the earth with spirit coursing through these places of physical contact down, down, down into the ground and out out out across the miles that separate us may we feel connected to one another and the earth beneath us. Earth, resting place of our ancestors, nurturer of the generation to connect, return to you in this sacred moment. We are grateful today for all that has given us life for the movement and environment and communities and containers as postured in us the resill intelligence to reconnect to one another to the larger purpose to which we are bound. If we are mindful of the generations who have traveled upon this earth before us, committed to holding sacred truth there a indeed be told. We saw new life emerge all around us. Blossom. That light green hue of new leaves, sound of birds chirping earlier and earlier in the morning, as the seasons turn ever more. And it reminded us, it reminds us of the blessing of transformation, even in the face of this hardship. And we are reminded day by day of the care and justify that this world needs. We are holding today especially our sibling in faith Acia Bernstein of Madison wiz. May healing and just be yours. And may it be made manifest in the world through our action. In a moment we will take some silence together, breathing deeply. We know we are connected. Breathing deeply we are resolute.


>> Can amen. Ashay and blessings be.

>> The moment is upon us. The years and years of your lives all but tradition and all of the history, all of your experiences and all of the material of your days gave live arising in this moment of turning in wonderment and Awe, in joy and sorrow. Your particular strengths, acknowledging publicly in this place and in this time. That what you have to give to this work and to yourself is a blessing. In uncertainty and fear and grief we are here to lift up the struggle is that has been with you, the places and people and parts of yourself that you mourn and the unborn places and experiences that lie ahead. Affirming that truth ever present and ever need of reaffirmation. If we would have been in person on this day we would have done a physical ritual moving across the stage that would be our bridge honoring our name and the name of our spiritual home in public and the welcoming youth into young adulthood. Well, we welcome you all the same. You have a place in this stage and how you can heed to discover it will be a great unfolding. We are a already in Awe. Your pierce, young adult friends, spiritual families, we do more than just witness. We know that we are changed by you. If you are a Bridger tuning into this service on your own or with family or in the company of friends, we affirm that you are part of the whole, be honored here today but also the collective that is injury generation and in a moment we'll hear or read some of the names of the collective, observe some of their faces, listen or read some of their words. You are connected to this nomination [{le}|{al}] gathering and you are all companions in this future. Hear our love, and know our commitment.

As you walk the ceremony of bridging I invite you to share in the chat of the names and congregations of other Bridgers we honor we honor through this ceremony. Welcome to the garden, the next place of growth. Welcome.


>> Comes out of the civil rights movement and as our young people graduate the world at sacred river with spirit, breath of life must be named. For youth who are on the margins of society, that sacred river is in you. Now we sing this song affirming our deep sacredness and/or youth and each of us, sing with me.