The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is pleased to announce the appointment of Shannon Harper as Lifespan Faith Engagement Co-Director, starting July 1. The co-directorship is a new role supporting the Lifespan Faith Engagement (LFE) team to integrate and fully support youth and emerging adults across all five regions of the UUA through equipping congregations, training leaders, and advancing our radically inclusive UU values through key national networking and programs. Shannon will be holding the portfolio to support five youth and emerging adult staff, while co-director Anna Bethea will focus on supporting staff for other age groups and lifespan programs. The two co-directors are committed to guiding the LFE team to approach their collective work with a lifespan lens and a particular focus on equipping and supporting lay leaders and religious educators.
“I feel incredibly lucky to work with such an expert team of people, doing work that we care deeply about,” said Shannon. “This is going to be fun!”
Shannon has served the UUA for six years as the Youth and Emerging Adult Ministries Specialist for the Central East Region. Over this time, Shannon has developed many youth leadership experiences and encounters with faith, spirituality, and meaning for our young people. In addition, Shannon’s experience as a co-convener of the Youth Ministry Roundtable clarified the need to create coherent and welcoming pathways for young UUs to be supported in our faith. One of Shannon’s favorite recent projects was River Rising, an evolution of traditional leadership school, that focuses on collaboration, mutuality and community care, based on the works of adrienne maree brown, Robin Wall Kimmerer and other BIPoC and/or Queer prophetic voices of our day.
Previously, Shannon served as the Director of Religious Education at the Miami Valley UU Fellowship in Dayton, OH, where she’s now a member and volunteer. With an education in art and office management, Shannon’s former careers include Scheduling Manager for a large home health agency and Arts and Culture instructor for afterschool and summer programs. As a volunteer adult advisor in the former Heartland District of the MidAmerica Region, Shannon gained valuable perspectives on localized shared youth ministry.
Shannon lives with her family - a high school aged daughter and two young adult daughters, as well as a son-in-law, two grandchildren, a dog, and a frog - in Dayton, Ohio. She doesn’t have as much time these days to dabble in pottery and art but she is a passionate plant mom and is learning tarot and the art of intuitive dreaming. Shannon recharges near large bodies of water and takes great pleasure in introducing her friends and colleagues to the world of slave-free, small batch, craft chocolate.
The Lifespan Faith Engagement office is a merger of the former Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries and the Faith Development Office in summer 2019. The team puts a justice seeking, radically inclusive faith in action by creating experiences for meaning-making and faithful living; accompanying people to make a home in our faith; and advocating for youth engagement and lifespan faith development.