Call and Response: Journeys in UU Lifespan Faith Development

Natalia, Sana, and Steven and a Cast of Thousands

By Jessica York

I remember reading that Natalia Averett would be representing the Joseph Priestly district on the UUA Board of Trustees. I first met Natalia at the UUA’s Multicultural Leadership School in 2010.

Recently, I worked with Sana Saeed, a co-author of Building Beloved Community, a program on multiculturalism and anti-racism for Unitarian Universalist Youth. I met Sana at the Multicultural Leadership School in 2011. I was pleased when she applied to write for the UUA and happy to hear she had accepted a job with the Interfaith Alliance to work with youth.

Currently, I am working with a group creating a worship service for the 2013 UUA General Assembly in Louisville, Kentucky. One of our group is Steven Ballesteros, who currently serves on the UUA Youth Ministry Advisory Committee (YMAC). Steven attended the Multicultural Leadership School in 2012. Providing worship at GA and serving the UUA’s continental youth community on the YMAC are just a couple of the leadership positions this 16-year-old holds.

These are just a few of the youth and young adults of color who have attended the Multicultural Leadership School (MLS). The deadline is fast approaching for MLS 2013, to be held August 2-6 in Boston. Do you know a youth or young adult leader who needs to attend?

The MLS is a training designed and sponsored by the UUA specifically for Unitarian Universalist youth and young adults (age 15-30) of color. The training equips participants to be leaders in their UU communities by providing experiences that foster relationship building, leadership skills, racial/ethnic identity development, inter-cultural collaboration, and deepening of faith identity. Participants leave with a new community of peers, stronger leadership abilities and more confidence, and a stable foundation for sustainable leadership in UU congregations, communities, and organizations. Natalie, Sana, Steve, and many other MLS alumni have emerged as leaders in their UU communities and our wider movement.

I am fortunate to be a co-facilitator of the MLS, along with Janice Marie Johnson, UUA Multicultural Ministries and Leadership Director, and the MLS dean, Rev. Dr. Monica L. Cummings, UUA Director of Ministry to Youth and Young Adults of Color. Find more information and an application here. Applications are due May 15 and scholarships are available, so financial considerations need not keep anyone from applying.

Oh, wait… where is the “cast of thousands” I mentioned above? Who knows what the future may hold? I have faith that anything is possible.

Next Steps!

The UUA’s Identity-Based Resources page has a variety of resources to support youth of color.

Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? By Beverly Daniel Tatum (Basic Books, 1997) is a classic read about identity formation in youth of color in the U.S.

Additional resources for supporting youth leadership include the Tapestry of Faith Toolkit Book When Youth Lead by Jill Schwendeman (Boston: UUA, 2007) and Youth Ministry Advising by the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries (Boston: UUA, 2012).

About the Author

Jessica York

Jessica York is the Director of Congregational Life at the Unitarian Universalist Association. During her fifteen plus years as a religious educator she has served on the Liberal Religious Educators Association’s Integrity Team, the MidSouth District’s RE Committee, and the...


For more information contact .

mls 2012 participants July 2012

Multicultural Leadership School participants and co-leaders at the UUA in Boston, July 2012.

Youth Ministry Advising A Complete Guide

Youth Ministry Advising: A Complete Guide covers broad-ranging topics including ways to recruit and support youth advisors, the nuts and bolts of youth group management, the role of youth in advisors creating a safe space, leadership training, and programming and project ideas.

Youth Ministry Advising