Summer Seminary for Unitarian Universalist Youth
UPDATE May 15th, 2020: Summer Seminary has been postponed due to the covid-19 pandemic and federal response. We hope to bring back magic of getting to spend a week at a UU or UU friendly seminary, testing out college life and eating, breathing and sleeping in 24/7 UU community in the summer of 2021.
ANNOUNCEMENT! Check out UU Faith Lab - a hybrid online, personalized and small group experience for youth to learn from leaders in our faith, explore what binds us as UU and discern our healing gifts for a hurting world in a way that is more accessible than ever before.
Summer Seminary is a program where Unitarian Universalist youth explore the possibilities of bringing their UU faith alive in the world through ministry. Focused on personal discernment and collective inquiry of diverse forms of ministry youth converse with folks in parish, lay, community, religious education and music ministry about the big questions in Unitarian Universalism today. This program offers youth the opportunity to learn alongside religious professionals, explore what it means to minister in a secular world and connect with other youth passionate about Unitarian Universalism.
Youth leave Summer Seminary with a stronger connection to their capacity for ministering from Unitarian Universalist Sources, Principles, and values.
Summer Seminary rotates locations each year between Iliff School of Theology in Denver, CO, Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkley, CA, Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, MA and Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago, IL
Summer Seminary is open to those who were in grades 10-12 (or the equivalent for home-schooled youth) during the current school year, including those who bridge into young adulthood in the spring/summer.
"To minister means to attend to the needs of others. No matter my path to ministry, I know that the ways that I'm involved with Unitarian Universalism will (continue to) attend to the needs of others... when I was younger, I didn't realize how many people there were out there like me -- in love with our faith and determined to work with it to make it better...I know that this is mine."
— Kari Gottfried, Class of 2018
"It's like an awakening. You get a chance to understand more than just the faith, or just the possible occupations, you get to learn about the communities built and the relationships made, and the infinite beauty that is our faith. For some, it's a way to look into the faith from a new perspective, and for others, it's a renewal."
—Melissa Priese, Class of 2015
How to Apply to Summer Seminary
The application asks you to submit your contact information, answer some demographics and logistics questions, and share your response to ONE of the following questions:
- What faith questions are you engaging with right now, where do you find inspiration?
- How do UU principles, sources and/or theology show up in your everyday life?
- What is community, how do you know?
In addition to submitting an application, a Letter of Community Support from a religious professional or lay leader in your congregation or spiritual community will need to be submitted on your behalf.
The cost to participants for Summer Seminary $525, which covers all programming, lodging and food. You do not need to pay when you apply. Scholarships and need based travel grants are available through the generosity of our donors, and the Unitarian Universalist Annual Program Fund (APF). For scholarship information email youth [at] uua [dot] org.
A Typical Day at Summer Seminary
You will be supported by four staff members for the week. Our staff members are ministers, religious educators and lay leaders with experience in youth ministry and safety. You'll experience a taste of college dorm life as you spend a week on the campus of our host school.
Each morning we gather to center ourselves and prepare for the day with a spiritual practice. Many of the days we eat, play, study, and worship together on campus. We will visit a local ministry unique to the area for an on-the-ground experience of ministry in community. Toward the end of the week we head out into our host city to explore and dine out.
Workshop sessions on discernment and calling, planning worship, religious education, history, chaplaincy, exploring different forms of ministry or preaching are taught by our faculty each day. Ample time is left for solitude, reflection, and unstructured social time.
Students will be prepared and trusted to navigate the campus in small groups of three. Students will belong to a “care group” that meets in the evening to reflect on the day and share what’s on their minds. Your care group will also support your self-care throughout the week, ensure everyone in the group makes it to meals, and will be your travel group for site visits. These groups will also plan worship.
Preach On and Sunday Service
Each student gets to share their faith through a homily written by you and presented to your peers from the pulpit of our host congregation one evening. Collectively the group selects several homilies they think best represent our time at Summer Seminary. Those homilies are delivered at the Sunday service of our host congregation, which is led by our students, giving you the experience of ministering to other Unitarian Universalists.
For more information about Summer Seminary including stories from previous participants, read the Blue Boat blog-posts for Summer Seminary.
From time to time we hear from parents or guardians who would like to know more about the UUA's policies and practices for providing supervision or assistance during their youth's event, or what they can expect for their travel or lodging, before their youth enrolls. Check out the UUA Youth Event Travel Guidelines for Parents/Guardians (PDF, 2 pages) to learn how we support the youth entrusted to our care.
If you have a special situation, please contact us at youth [at] uua [dot] org or (617) 948-4355 and we'll be glad to put you in touch with the lead coordinator for the event to discuss your youth's issue and how we can ensure they get the most out of their experience with the least amount of worry for you.