Wren Bellavance-Grace, Congregational Consultant, New England Region UUA
Remember June? Things felt so hopeful. Vaccines were happening; businesses were opening; so many things seemed perched on the brink of possible. It was in those hopeful days that three of us (Evin Carvill-Ziemer, Nancy Combs-Morgan, and I) started talking about offering a national two-part webinar series on emergent youth ministry. How we might collectively shape the next generation of youth ministry, post-pandemic? How might we rethink youth ministry through the lens of all we’ve learned in the last 18 months?
To paraphrase an old Yiddish proverb, We planned; Covid-19 laughed.
Friends, we are not post-pandemic; we are still very much in the middle of it. This is not the time to shape new models of youth ministry or glean wisdom from the lessons we aren’t done living through yet.
We are hearing from many religious professionals and lay partners in youth ministry that this is a time for connection—and reconnection. We have been apart too long. It’s time for using trauma-informed ministry to acknowledge the grief we are all experiencing—for lost friends or family members; for lost time; for lost experiences that cannot be recaptured. This is time for somatic care—for grounding our minds, emotions, and spirits in the bodies we care for. inhale, exhale, repeat. It’s time to drink water, get through another pandemic-impacted fall, and simplify. We heard you.
Youth Ministry is about a lot of things, and sometimes that involves modeling healthy practices for the people we are serving—even when that wasn’t our plan. So we are following the same advice we’ve been sharing with congregations. We are using our trauma-informed lens to postpone our webinar series. It’s not time for rethinking and reshaping new models—not yet.
For now, we will share with you a few resources we think will be helpful in this moment.
- We invite you to consider the Youth Ministry Toolbox Webinar.
- Check out this article that describes what many people feel as losing their “Surge Capacity.”
- Listen to this Brene Brown podcast on pandemic flux syndrome.
- Watch Rev. Sunshine Wolfe’s brief video on recognizing low level trauma responses (Vimeo, 9 minutes) in ministry.
Reach out to your colleagues in Youth Ministry. Connect with your youth—safely—and remind them we will get through this, and they are beloved. Check-in with your regional staff for more ideas, support, and connection.
We will invite you to dream with us about the next shape of Unitarian Universalist Youth Ministry.
Just not today.
Stay tuned. And take care of yourselves.