Religious Education Corner:   Youth Ministry  January 2017

“Inspire youth to make their life more meaningful and bright for positive impact.”

~ Kishore Bansai

In late January last year, our youth group put together a Sunday morning service for the first time in several years.  In fact, no one in this group had ever worked on a youth service before.  They opened their hearts to our congregation and shared with all of us a little bit about what it was like growing up “UU”. 

I wanted to share with you some of what goes on behind-the-scenes with youth ministry.  Vital youth ministry and resilient Unitarian Universalist youth begin with healthy, spiritually mature adults. Companioning youth on their spiritual journey is an important ministry.  Our youth group has four advisers: Melissa Elliott-Brogan, Judd Kramarcik, Ted Masters and Gretta Johnson-Sally.  Each of us brings different things to our youth group.  We all come from different religious backgrounds.  We have different jobs by day.  We love working together and with the youth.  We are a tight cohesive group. Our youth come together with many different adults to build relationships and live their faith.  These may be religious education leaders, Coming-of-Age (COA) mentors, Our Whole Lives (OWL) leaders, conference leaders, and summer camp staff to name a few. But truly, youth ministry is everyone’s ministry.  A truly multigenerational community welcomes and affirms the voices, gifts and journeys of every person of every age. Adolescence is a time of complexity and youth construct their identities based on their experiences. Meaningful engagement with adults who are living authentically nurtures appreciation of our inherent human diversity. Being a strong role model who acts with integrity, supports youth in their racial and gender identity development and helps them articulate their own belief system and live their lives as Unitarian Universalists.

Our youth have chosen to answer our faith’s call for social action by participating in several social action projects throughout the year.  They are not given a budget line in our congregation’s budget and have to earn any money they use to complete their projects.  Hence, the weekly soup sales after each service.  The youth appreciate the congregation’s enthusiastic participation in this venture.  We support less fortunate families at Christmas time, have done care packages with books, have offered childcare for a Parents Night Out and of course, our largest project, Midnight Run each May when we go into New York City with food and clothing for homeless people. 

The youth group theme for the January 29th youth service is: “The Music that Influences Our Lives”.  It will be a selection of music that speaks to our youth and to their Unitarian Universalist principles.  Please join them for a glimpse into the amazing youth who are part of our beloved community. And, of course, stay for our wonderful breakfast.

~ Gretta Johnson-Sally, DRE