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Monday, February 25, 2008

This week at UU prayer; YRUU's future.

Wayne Arnason and Kathleen Rolenz reflect on how Unitarian Universalist worship leaders can pray with integrity, grace, power, and purpose. "The purpose of prayer in transformative worship," they write in an excerpt from their new book, "is to allow enough silent time in the worship for transformation to occur.

In the news, Don Skinner reports on the controversy that erupted two weeks ago over the future of YRUU, the continental youth organization. The article also provides links to lots of related resources and background materials. Update: This morning the UUA posted a FAQ about the status of YRUU and youth ministry.

At's blogs, Sonja Cohen tracks Unitarian Universalists in the media and Shelby Meyerhoff monitors the UU blogosphere (aka the interdependent web).

Copyright © 2008 by Philocrites | Posted 25 February 2008 at 8:11 AM

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Heather Vail:

February 25, 2008 11:31 AM | Permalink for this comment

This FAQ is doublespeak.

Just because they say that "the youth ministry consultation process was highly transparent and inclusive" doesn't make it so. The dialogue coming out of this decision - and the surprise being expressed by many people including leadership, staff members, and people who participated in the consultation itself (see various comments on - is testament enough to the falsity of that statement.

Likewise, just because they say "this conversation is not about ending congregational and district youth ministry, whether called 'YRUU' or not. It is about strengthening, deepening and broadening youth ministry at the local and district levels" doesn't make it true. Again, show me some proof. Show me money, resources, programming.

This whole thing (the FAQ) is just insulting. Would it kill them to drop the defensive tone and admit that maybe they were a little surprised by the strong reactions to this? Admit that maybe they weren't as transparent - that they don't have the "broad concensus" - as they claim to?

Two more thoughts:

1) Where is word youth empowerment in this piece? I hear "youth ministry" used over and over and over again. But "youth empowerment"? Nuh-uh. They're really, really different things, and the difference between them is, in my mind, the whole reason this decision is forboding and scary. Mark my words - that omission is notable, deliberate, and telling.

2) Why haven't they publically released the names of the 15 people sitting on the Taskforce on Youth Ministry? Doesn't transparency demand that constituents have an ear to voice concerns to? They insist that the taskforce is representative of many different constituents - I'll believe it when I see it. I want names and contact information. Stat.

Heather Vail:

February 25, 2008 02:46 PM | Permalink for this comment

My mistake - here's a list to the names, for anyone else interested.


February 25, 2008 03:10 PM | Permalink for this comment

Heather, that's not the implementation working group; that's the task force that helped coordinate the Consultation on Ministry to and with Youth. I'm looking for a public list of the working group participants, too.

Heather Vail:

February 25, 2008 04:07 PM | Permalink for this comment

Yeah, someone else just mentioned that to me. I would love to see a public list of the Working Group on Youth Ministry if you can find it (and that's what I really meant to ask for in the original post - all of these committees are confusing). Thank you.

Jim Sechrest:

February 26, 2008 06:00 PM | Permalink for this comment

If the UUA board and the UUA staff and their spinoff committees are interested in implementing new programming for youth and young adults, why are they so bad at it? I mean, why leave out the UU values of democracy and spirituality and community building in the process.

I know, it's so much simpler when you leave out the folks that are being served in this process (while claiming to be transparent and -oh brother- inclusive) but, dang, that's very un-UU. When did the UUA board and staff cease to be UU?

Because, these efforts by the UUA board and UUA staff, especially those of William Sinkford, UUA president, do not even approach what we expect from committed UUs in terms of using UU values in our UU programming efforts.

It's pitiful.

What would it take to get some UUA staff people and UUA board members who support our UU values for our youth and young adult continental groups as well?

It is true that most youth and young adults don't go to continental events, just like most UUs don't go to GA. But the energy and culture that is brought back to our local congregations from our continental youth and young adult events is priceless. I see the UUA culture as wiping out the culture of UU youth and young adults, quite intentionally.

Ethnic cleansing is what I am seeing.

Jim Sechrest


February 26, 2008 06:15 PM | Permalink for this comment

Whoa, Jim, take some smelling salts. "Ethnic cleansing" is a vicious charge, and if you really mean it, your moral compass needs adjustment.

Heather Vail:

February 28, 2008 06:15 PM | Permalink for this comment

Members of the Working Group on Youth Ministry:

Nick Allen: Nick is a past YRUU Steering Committee member and attended the Summit on Youth Ministry in this capacity. He is serving on this Working Group as a representative for YRUU.
nallen_001 at

Laurel Amabile: Laurel is the Director of the Annual Program Fund in the UUA Office of Stewardship and Development. She has been both a UUA District Staff member and DRE and has extensive experience in youth work.
lamabile at
617-948-6513 (work)

Charlie Burke: Charlie is the Youth Trustee on the Board and attended the Summit on Youth Ministry in that capacity. He has been an active youth leader in his home congregation in Milton, MA and the Mass Bay District.
Burke.charlie at

Nancy DiGiovanni: Nancy is the Director of Programs for the UUA Young Adult and Campus Ministry Office and attended the Summit on Youth ministry in this capacity. Before coming to the UUA, she worked as a youth advisor at the UU Congregation of Princeton, NJ and a high school social studies teacher.
ndigiovanni at
617-948-4629 (work)

Caitlin DuBois: Caitlin is a youth from Hobart, IN and is involved in General Assembly Youth Caucus Staff as a co-leader of FUNTIMES, the business meeting. She attended the Summit on Youth Ministry and is a dynamic youth leader.
kei.ght at

Judith Frediani: Judith is the Director of Lifespan Faith Development at the UUA. In this role she has been involved in the Consultation process since the beginning.
jfrediani at
617-948-4373 (work)

Jesse Jaeger (Staff Support): Jesse is the Youth Ministries Director at the UUA. He has been one of the primary staff support people for the Consultation and Implementation process since the beginning.
jjaeger at
617-948-4359 (work)

Andrea Lerner: Andrea is the District Executive for Metro New York District. She has extensive experience in youth work as a DRE and parent.
alerner at

India McKnight: India is a Youth Ministry Associate in the UUA Office of Youth Ministry and attended the Summit on Youth Ministry in this capacity. She has also has also worked in Religious Education at the UU Church of Silver Spring, MD. She is a Groundwork trainer and has been on DRUUMM YaYA (Diverse Revolutionary UU Multicultural Ministries- Youth and Young Adult) Steering Committee.
imcknight at
617-948-4351 (work)

Rev. Alison Miller: Alison is the minister at the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship. She has been very involved in UU youth and young adult communities since she was a youth. Alison was also the coordinator of the UUA’s Mind the Gap Campaign in 2002 – bringing attention to the “gap” that exists between youth and young adult involvement in Unitarian Universalism. She is the UUMA (Unitarian Universalist Minister’s Association) representative to this Working Group and attended the Summit on Youth Ministry in this capacity as well.
amiller at
973-540-1177 x204 (work)

Rev. Beth Miller: Beth is the Director of Ministry & Professional Leadership at the UUA and attended the Summit on Youth Ministry in this capacity. She has 15 years of experience as a congregational minister and was involved in youth ministry in the 1980s, serving on both the Joseph Priestley District and the continental YRUU Youth/Adult Committees.
bmiller at
617-948-6407 (work)

Laura Spencer: Laura is the Program Associate for Racial and Ethnic Concerns: Assessment of Youth and Young Adults of Color Ministry at the UUA, the Mosaic Project. She attended the Summit on Youth Ministry.
lspencer at
617-948-4278 (work)

Rev. Judy Tomlinson: Judy is the Minister of Religious Education at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Montclair, NJ. She is the LREDA (Liberal Religious Educators Association) representative to this Working Group.
rejatom at
973-744-6276 ext 16 (work)

Jackie Whitworth: Jackie is a representative of the DRUUMM YaYA Steering Committee. She was very involved in her home congregation in Rockford, IL and now goes to Reed College in Portland, OR.
jcw89 at

Sara Eskrich (Staff Support)
seskrich at
617-948-4352 (work)

[Cell phone numbers removed. —Philo]

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