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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

UUA Youth Office explains Con Con decision.

Unitarian Universalists involved in programs for youth, especially those who paid attention to the hubbub early in the year around the withdrawal of UUA staff support for the continental conference of the denominational youth organization YRUU, will want to note the publication of a letter from the UUA Youth Office responding to criticism of that decision.

Copyright © 2005 by Philocrites | Posted 20 July 2005 at 8:39 AM

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July 20, 2005 03:43 PM | Permalink for this comment

Technically, Con Con wasn't "cancelled"; the Youth Office withdrew logistical support for the event. (Their letter explains this at some length.) I've adjusted this post to more accurately reflect the substance of the Youth Office's decision. [Ed. 7.21.05]

Jim Sechrest:

July 21, 2005 03:37 AM | Permalink for this comment

The Youth Office response letter to criticism helps us to more clearly understand what is wrong with the Youth Office relationship with our continental UU youth. After presenting their "institutional position", they say they are done, with the word "done" underlined, responding to the this issue.

Well, they can respond or not. But, this issue of the closing of Con Con and why it was done and why it was innappropriate is SO NOT DONE.

First of all, we as UU youth and young adult con culture supporters feel very little need to support any "institutional position" on our efforts, whether pro or con. In a UU subculture that values grass roots democracy, grass roots spirituality, and close intentional community, ("be here now" UUism), where is there any place for an institutional position from the UUA staff? We want them to suport the initiatives of the youth, not the initiatives of the UUA staff.

We don't value the concept of an institutional position from the UUA staff because we don't want our UU subculture of UU youth cons and young adult cons to become institutionalized by the UUA staff. Their concept that their efforts are "balanced" between an institutional position and the input of the youth themselves relies on the belief that their is any proper place for an institutional position in the first place. Where did the youth office come up with this idea? We want the Youth Office "institutional position" off the table completely, where it so clearly belongs.

In rejection of the UUA Youth Office decision to drop Con Con efforts, despite their backing off of the Youth Office "Decision" post on why they were shifting their staff time to DO MORE (highly innappropriate) AR PROGRAMMING, the youth are already BYPASSING the Youth Office by creating regional cons to replace Con Con, outside of Youth Office Control.

The Youth Office did not like it when the youth voted with their feet not to attend AR programming at Con Con 2004, and wrote about this in their Decision to Cancel Con Con letter. Now the UU youth are voting with their feet to attend their own new regional cons to further grass roots spirituality.

The Youth Office's effort to downplay their statements saying that putting more staff time into UUA staff promoted AR programming is a smarmy display of not taking responsibility for their own actions. They themselves wrote about this in the original "Decision" letter. Instead of trying to not back up their own Decision, I would have had more respect for their more recent letter if they had more clearly stated, "We are gonna do it our way, we don't care what the youth want, so piss off.". Because, that is how their response comes off to me, anyway?

What avenues do the youth council and the YRUU steering committee have to encourage the Youth Office to act responsibly? The Youth Office did not live up to their responsibility to work on Con Con. They don't take responsibility for their own AR emphasis in their "Decision" letter. And, they don't live up to the YRUU bylaws, and they don't care about the YRUU bylaws. Quite a coup. But, not really very democratic. Not very UU.

I support very highly any efforts to come up with more written material at the Youth Office in support of youth spirituality, including "The YRUU Songbook". But, that the youth office would claim that these materials and Social Justice conferences and the GA youth worship are an adequate replacement for Con Con worships shows just how alienated they are from what is important to the youth themselves.

These people do not care what is important to the youth.

Who are these people representing our youth, and if they are not, if they are truly present to represent primarily the UU Congregations instead of the youth (as they say in their response letter), then what are they doing in the Youth Office?

The primary role of the Youth Office is to act as a supporting entity of the youth in the face of the fact that the UU Congregations have had no clue what is meaningful to the youth for 50 years. Suddenly, the UU Congregations are going to have some sort of insight into the UU youth culture? Or is this just the UUA president and the UUA board and the UU Youth Office SAYING that THEY have the skinny on what is important in UUism, not the Unitarian Universalist youth and young adults who are really engaged in youth and young adult spirituality, youth and young adult communites, and grass roots democracy?

Because, I sincerely doubt that if you go into the UU Congregations, you will get any opinion whatsoever on youth programming, besides the usual discrimination against youth for dressing weird and acting weird.

We should cancel all UU Congregations because the ministers engage in adultery with the parishioners at very high rates and this is inadequately addressed by the UUA who just move these ministers to other congregations.

If the Youth Office will not support the Youth in the FACE of the clueless efforts of UU congregational politics, then who will stand up and be a voice for the Youth in the UUA?

The UUA is in the process of ethnic cleansing against their own UU youth subculture, and the youth office is helping the UUA do this.

The UUA President has launched a "Revisioning" process for YRUU in which only 5 out of 30 people represented the UU youth con folks. The UUA President is not really living up to the concept of "supporting democracy" in the UUA for UU youth in my opinion, only democracy the UUA staff.

The latest "response" from the YRUU Office is a remarkable example of institutional doublespeak. They accuse Con Con of being
expensive and elitist, when the real problem is that the Youth Office is expensive and elitist.

We can have high quality youth cons without the input of the Youth Office. Oversight by the Youth Office, which has lost sight of the priorities of the youth themselves is not only NOT NECESSARY, it would be HIGHLY INNAPPROPRIATE. We need to convince the Youth Office that we can have youth cons for which the UUA and the Youth Office have absolutely no legal liability, because we will accept NO INPUT FROM THE UUA or THE YOUTH OFFICE in these cons. These cons are already beginning to happen.

Jim Sechrest


July 21, 2005 06:58 AM | Permalink for this comment

Maybe its because I need a second cup of coffee in the morning these days, or because I am just too dang old to be able to read MANIFESTOes anymore - or maybe just too dang old to understand today's modern youth and young adults ... but could somebody translate Jim's message? Hopefully in short words with just a few short paragraphs.
and afterwards, explain to me why youth should care what Boston does, when I always thought the real action was local?


July 21, 2005 07:50 AM | Permalink for this comment

Jim, get yourself a blog for these full-fledged rants. They're conversation killers.

Just in case anyone missed it before, here's my personal and super-duper-brief view of things pertaining to youth, rooted in my experience as a youth advisor and young adult group leader: If congregations don't find ways to do congregational youth ministry better, no amount of specialized programming for "contintental youth" (i.e., insiders with money) will make up for their failure. It's all local. If "cons" help congregations minister to youth better, great. If not, find something that does.


July 21, 2005 10:36 AM | Permalink for this comment

Jim, I have to say you looking at the situation backwards. You state:
In rejection of the UUA Youth Office decision to drop Con Con efforts ... the youth are already BYPASSING the Youth Office by creating regional cons to replace Con Con, outside of Youth Office Control."

But you state this like it's a bad thing, or that the Youth Office won't be happy about this. Quite to the contrary, the creation of regional conferences and groups to run them has been something a goodly number of people have been SCREAMING for, for the past 8 years at minimum. It's only after a regional group of planners fell apart that the Youth Office took over ConCon anyways. They didn't historically provide the logistical support, instead allowing the local YAC/DYSC/SC/Youth Leaderships of whatever district ConCon was in to plan it. When a YAC was dismemberd by it's district board however, and ConCon looked like it wasn't going to happen, The YO took over FOR THAT YEAR... but then no local groups wanted to take control of the event back from them.

I'd have been in support of the Youth Office dropping their support for ConCon JUST to force local groups to take control of their own destiny. The Youth Office exists to assist congregations and districts first and formost. When those congregations and districts don't even care enough about themselves to create sustainable systems and groups, the YO has trouble.

Jim Sechrest:

July 22, 2005 07:09 AM | Permalink for this comment

I think the Youth Office is lost. Their priorities are discombobulated. If THEY knew what they were doing and were doing it in a responsible way, then it would be easier to predict what they might want.

The irresponsible anti-racism programming culture has led to big problems at GA, not to mention Youth Council 2004, and Con Con 2004. Really bizarre behavior is being encouraged by the new AR/AO subculture that our UUA staff is promoting.

The Youth Office HAS provided lots of logistical support for Con Con for decades like registration and mailing lists, while different groups took on the programming aspects. Which is how it should be.

Problems with expenses at Con Con have been incurred precisely because the Youth Office have been throwing money at their problems, flying folks all over, etc. Regional Cons and Con Con don't require that.

The UUA president has currently launched an "ethnic cleansing" effort against the youth con culture, describing it as "revisioning" process.
Efforts of the Youth Office in regard to Con Con dovetail with his efforts. Anti-racism programming is all the rage.

See the FUUSE post on the Charlotte Observer's article on how this AR programming culture got out of hand at GA.
Youth Office staff were right in the middle of the innappropriate behavior. They were some of the ones doing the bizarre, innappropriate behavior.

Chris: The local congregations have NO vision of youth ministry. It's sad. Ask the local RE director and they might remember where some old curricula are lying around. That is not where I would put my money.

The youth are involved in circle worships at youth cons that are a deep expression of spirituality. UU Congregations could improve their "God's Frozen People" image if they included this stuff more in Church on Sunday Services.

The Youth Office effort to back out of Con Con while citing that it is because of their interest in anti-racism efforts and the President's Revisioning that excluded YRUU youth (5 out of 30 invited to revision YRUU) but included anti-racism programming for youth are both examples of how the UUA staff are engaged in "ethnic cleansing" against youth spirituality in the UUA through pure negligence in order to further their own staff efforts on anti-racism.
Democratic? no.

UUA staff folks don't value youth spirituality because they are primarily atheists and agnostics. But, UUism calls for us to support each other in our quest for meaning, not undermine others spirituality as they did by the way they backed out of Con Con.

(They say that they have books available on this stuff, and folks could go to other cons, but that is negligent because what is happening at these circle worships is not something that you can hand out in a book or something that occurs at most official intergenerational UUA cons.)

We could have had new anti-racism programming that not so bizarre and did not undercut youth spirituality, but that is not the path that the UUA staff is on. They want all control and the brass ring too, without regarding the input of the youth. That is new. "Screw the youth" should not be the mantra of the youth office. We have Chris and other UUs who don't understand why the youth spirituality is meaningful for that.

The Youth Office is stating why Con Con should not be started up by others because of liability issues. So, sorry Donald, I think the Youth Office IS being controlling and not very UU.


Jim Sechrest

That WAS my short response.


July 22, 2005 11:39 AM | Permalink for this comment

Yikes, Jim. Please take a step back and some time to cool down, get over some of this baggage, and build some trust in people and your own faith. Do you know any of the people you are slandering?

Ian & Ceci:

August 10, 2005 03:32 PM | Permalink for this comment

Hi WE are both youth from the south west district and were quite dishearted to hear that con con was cancled. then after our distric event "swuusi" we thought "wait! why cant we have a con con." from what we understand it was just that nobody wanted to be put in charge of it.

If there was another reason for con con to be cancled please let us know. but otherwise we belong to the largest youth congregation in the swd area and would be more than happy to begin what ever process necessary to bring back Con Con.

we would be blessed with a responce. love to all of uu!

Ian & Ceci

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