Thursday, February 14, 2008
YRUU, C*UUYAN funding decisions not entirely clear.
Anxiety and anger are sweeping through networks of Unitarian Universalist young people following the release of two letters this week, one each from the governing boards of the UUA's two "sponsored organizations" serving young UUs. The steering committee of the Continental UU Young Adult Network (C*UUYAN), an organization of 18- to 35-year-olds founded in 1986, announced Tuesday that the UUA was discontinuing funding and staff support for C*UUYAN. Coincidentally, another letter came out Monday evening from the steering committee of YRUU (Young Religious Unitarian Universalists), an organization of UU youth founded in 1982, saying that the UUA was ending financial support for YRUU at the continental level. The YRUU steering committee has set up two blogs in response, one called YRUU UUlogy ("to distribute information about the end of YRUU continental leadership structure") and the other, YRUU Institutional Memory Project, to host comments and reflections of current and former YRUU members. Lots of other blogs are discussing the news, too, and a Facebook group has sprung up to call for a new, independent course for these groups.
In the midst of all the discussion, it seems important to note how much information isn't yet in circulation about these decisions. Neither of the staff groups involved has issued an announcement or statement about the decisions. (The C*UUYAN steering committee's letter, however, includes explanatory material from Tracey Robinson-Harris, the acting director of the UUA's young adult and campus ministry staff group, so at least some aspects of the staff's perspective is explicitly reflected in that document.) This is important because some people seem to be interpreting the end of funding and staff support for C*UUYAN and continental YRUU as the end of all funding for youth and young adult programs across the board. I am quite sure that we'll see that this is not the case, but we are still waiting to hear about the big picture.
By way of disclosure, this is one of those UU topics that I find hard to blog about. As editor of UU World, I'm trying to understand what is happening so I can help the magazine's reporters provide accurate, fair coverage. My primary goal is to get the story right. Furthermore, I'm not a spokesperson for the UUA. I don't have the answers, and I'm not in a position to field questions, especially speculative ones, about the motives or objectives of my colleagues.
Final bit of disclosure: I became a UU in college. I was a congregational young adult group leader from 1991 to 1996, when I also served as a middle-school youth group advisor and AYS instructor. I was elected C*UUYAN facilitator at Opus in 1995 and participated in the consultation on young adult ministry at the 1997 General Assembly that paved the way for C*UUYAN's "sponsored organization" status. And, from 1997 through 2000, when I was a seminarian, I was the advisor to the youth group at the First Parish in Concord, Mass., a large congregation with an active youth community that wasn't especially connected to district or continental YRUU. My roots are in congregational ministry with young people — and although I've been involved at the denominational level and have my own lingering doubts about the adequacy of a strictly congregational understanding of Unitarian Universalism, "con culture" and the politics of the continental youth and young adult organizations have not been significant parts of my own UU life. For what it's worth.
Copyright © 2008 by Philocrites | Posted 14 February 2008 at 8:26 AM