Transitioning from Youth to Young Adulthood (Bridging)
Bridging—transitioning from youth into adulthood—is important not only in the life of an individual, but also in the life of a family and a faith community. As youth prepare to enter young adulthood, they are opening the door for new experiences and greater understanding of their faith. Congregations and other Unitarian Universalist (UU) communities can support them during this transition by keeping their connection to Unitarian Universalism alive and relevant to their lives and continuing to minister to them as they transition to young adulthood. This time can be marked by a ritual or ceremony that acknowledges the transition from youth to young adulthood and the young person’s change of status. Unitarian Universalists use the term “bridging” to describe both the ceremony and the transitional time in the young person’s life.
Bridging youth will benefit from programming to help them discern their relationship with their faith, their congregation and other UU communities, and consider how these relationships may change over the next several years. Young people should know that their faith community will be a welcome presence in their lives, whether they stay at their current location or move away for work, military careers, school, or anywhere else life may take them.
The Bridge Connections Program
Sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries, the Bridge Connections program helps keep bridging youth connected to UU communities when they go off to college, get their own apartment, or start a new job. Each spring, congregations can request cards/brochures to give to their senior youth so they may provide the contact-information of their new location on the Bridge Connections form. In the fall, the UUA notifies local congregations, campus ministries and young adult groups of those recently bridged young adults moving to their area, so that they may welcome them and notify them of services and programs in that area.
For Bridgers: Backpacker's Notebook
This curriculum is intended for use by youth and young adults ages 16-25. A complete update of the original UU Backpacking, Backpacker’s Notebook asks participants to work with a mentor in traveling metaphorical paths of faith discovery through projects designed to address a wide range of learning styles. Participants explore history and theology, community building, service to others, worship and spirituality, social justice, and leadership. Purchase Backpacker's Notebook from the UUA Bookstore.
Bridging: A Handbook For Congregations
This resource helps congregations design a unique program to support their senior youth in the transition to adulthood. Bridging: A Handbook for Congregations offers a blueprint for a yearlong program and ceremony marking the transition from youth to young adulthood that complements the traditions and practices of your congregation. It will enhance your youth ministry programming by inviting families and congregants to learn about the changes youth are experiencing and support them on their journeys. It is part of Tapestry of Faith, an integrated lifespan curriculum of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations (UUA).
If your congregation offers a pre-bridging program and you would like to share your success stories with other UU congregations, please contact the UUA Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries at youngadults [at] uua [dot] org or (617) 948-4350.
For Bridged Young Adults
You may have left your home-congregation, but you still have a home in the UU faith. Wherever life takes you, you can find a loving spiritual community that can welcome you with open arms.
Use the Find a Congregation page to locate a UU congregation or community close to your new home.
The Hub: Young Adult UUs on Facebook provides opportunities for young adults to connect and share. Content on this page is frequently updated, featuring our most recent resources as well as posts from young adults and young adult community leaders. The page also features tools for young adults to congregate and create connections and vibrant ministry:
- The Hub Map
Find young adult groups and add more to this open-source map of Unitarian Universalist young adult and campus ministry groups and organizations at the local, regional and national levels.
- The Hub Calendar
Find young adult meetings, trainings, cons, and other opportunities to congregate in this open-source calendar of events for and by young adult Unitarian Universalists.
If you have joined the military, a service group like AmeriCorps, or are taking a "gap year," your lifestyle may not lend itself to joining a UU community in a fixed location. You can participate online at Quest for Meaning, a virtual community of the Church of the Larger Fellowship. Quest for Meaning offers weekly and special-event worship services, blogs and discussions, as well as pastoral care.
It is important for congregations to make sure that bridgers know they still have a spiritual home in the new phase of their life—not just in individual UU communities or congregations, but in the faith itself. Being in relationship with post-bridging young adults means maintaining connections with those from your congregation who are off to new places and building new connections with those who have newly arrived. You can engage a newly bridged young adult in talking about and exploring the changing role that Unitarian Universalism can play in their life, and the different roles they can play in the faith and in new UU communities.
Review our Top Ten Tips for Supporting Newly Bridged Young Adults (PDF) for more ideas on how to welcome and/or maintain connection with post-bridging young adults.
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