Thursday, February 14, 2008

Letter from William G. Sinkford Concerning Youth/Young Adult Ministry Transition

February 14, 2008

Dear Friends,

Our youth and young adult ministries are in a time of transition. There is a broad consensus that our current approaches and structures have not been adequate to the need, nor been able to take advantage of our opportunities. We are beginning to chart a new course forward. But change is always unsettling. And letting go of past practices is never easy.

We are listening carefully to the concerns and hopes of youth and young adults and those who stand with them in faith. Let me assure you that the new course has not yet been defined and decided. Both the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Administration and Board remain committed to the creation of vital and effective youth and young adult ministries. Our task is to determine, together, what structures can move us toward that mission.

I ask for your patience. UUA leadership and stakeholder constituents are still in dialogue to solidify a plan of action. Within a week I will distribute widely the emerging direction and try to address as many of the good questions that have been raised as possible. And I promise to continue to share information as this process unfolds.

In faith,

William G. Sinkford
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations


Embryo said...

Dear Bill, I'd really love to know who the constituents are that you're communicating with so intently. Because the fact that amid all the intense organizing that's gone on the past few days, no one has stepped up and said, "You know what, we're working on it," makes me extremely skeptical that your concept of relevant stakeholders in this matter is any more respectful of youth and young adult leadership than any of the other steps you've taken.

I wish that I could respond with the patience you've requested. But I just don't trust you anymore, and that is hard.

Embryo said...

p.s., While I accept that there is a broad consensus that youth and young adult structures and programming were not fulfilling their promise, there also seems to be a consensus that the way you all have dealt with this, from beginning to end, is bafflingly, distressingly messed up. If I might humbly suggest a first next step: surprise us.

Cornelius said...

So, what does this mean, exactly?

Looks like:

I hear that you are all reacting strongly about this.

Please wait a week while we adults figure this out for you.

- bill.

Maybe I'm wrong, and I'm most certainly biased, so if someone else has a more favorable translation (or more correct), please respond with that.

Dan Kappus said...

Can I just point out that this is a bit poor? If you're going to announce something this late, as in after the fact, you should be ready to explain yourself, not say "just wait a week."

-Dan Kappus

Anonymous said...

Listening and then making the decision for youth isn't enough. The fact that there are only four youth on the team looking into these decisions, and that youth are only considered one "stakeholder" among many, and that the Steering Committee does not seem to feel empowered, does NOT reassure me that the direction you speak of is being figured out in an empowering way.

Hazel Gabe

Anonymous said...

A resource that might be useful in understanding this situation (and so many others) through an Anti-Racist/Anti-Oppressive lens:

"White Supremacy Culture"

Anonymous said...

Thirty years ago I watched with horror and sadness at the way Liberal Religious Youth were systematically marginalized and disenfranchised under the UUA administration of Paul Carnes. To see the same thing happening today to current YRUU leaders is utterly heartbreaking.
President Sinkford, you yourself used the empowermet the UUA provided youth in the 1960s to rise to the level of President of LRY. If any UUA president should understand the importance of youth empowerment and the unique role it has played in the creation and history of the UUA it should be you.
Please do not destroy YRUU's structure the way LRY was destroyed. Please do not disenfranchise today's generation of youth from taking active leadership positions within a strong national/continental YRUU organization.
Improving and expanding the reach of youth ministry is a laudable goal, but destroying a current youth organization which thousands of youth hold dear is not the proper path to get there. In its wake you will only leave an untold number of deep and lasting wounds among a community of very tender hearts.
I sincerely beg of you Mr. Sinkford, don't do this. There has to be a better way.

Anonymous said...

Sounds to me like he's to himself saying "ooh f**k, we didn't realize this would piss off so many people. Maybe if we wait a week they won't be so mad..."

Anny said...

This letter, on top of saying nothing at all, makes no mention of the one group who is the biggest stakeholder of them all-the affected youth. Shame on you UUA.

Anonymous said...

Happy Valentines Day to you too, Bill! I hope instead of flowers and candy, you got an email that says "your special organization of people who love you is no longer available. It was messed up and didn't work right so some people who are smarter than you who have big offices with mahogany tables decided to fix it for you by chopping its head off! XOXOX".
PS Even though there's no hell, it's probably still a good idea to not be evil! <3

Dynomoose said...

This is terrible! Some of my fondest memories of growing up came from YRUU events and conferences.
Shame on you for further alienating the UU youth!

Anonymous said...

From my understanding YRUU was being worked out in the process of ending LRY. I don't think they destroyed LRY without starting to form YRUU.

I love how vague Bill is. I'm pretty sure I just wasted a minute of my time reading absolutely nothing.

I think this is just another good example of not listening to us youth and another good reason for YRUU to follow C*YUUAN out the door into our own organization. Peace out UUA and thanks for making me a leader and then taking away everything. Real slick.

maia cudhea said...

"Within a week I will distribute widely the emerging direction and try to address as many of the good questions that have been raised as possible. And I promise to continue to share information as this process unfolds."

thanx for the patriarchal love!

Robin Edgar said...

Two words - Damage Control

Robin Edgar said...

It seems to me that if UUA President Bill Sinkford, and other UUA administrators in positions of responsibility in this matter, were genuinely "listening carefully to the concerns and hopes of youth and young adults" that the current situation would not exist, this YRUU UUlogy blog would not exist, and most of the comments here would not exist. . .

:I will. . . try to address as many of the good questions that have been raised as possible.

I wonder if UUA President Bill Sinkford thinks that the questions raised by the following allegations of Ben Alexander are "good questions" that he will resposibly address?

"LRY did not trade it's financial independence for anything; the UUA seized control of LRY finances in a move that many LRYers felt was unethical at best, if not a downright violation of the terms of LRY's financial endowment."

Anonymous said...

Mr Sinkford,
At the VERY LEAST can the UUA continue to affirm YRUU as a legitimate organization for UUA youth? I mean all the committee written suggestions about what needs to be improved is fine and all but what's the point of throwing a generation of youth off a cliff and leaving them to die just because they are loyal to a longstanding organization that you (for whatever reason) now find in disfavor? Why do we have to burn down their house if we are supposed to be "welcoming" congregations?

Robin Edgar said...

I have made pretty much the same point in a follow-up comment to a post about the YRUU fiasco on ChaliceChick's blog. Here is what I said -

Well that makes a lot of sense too Comrade Kevin (he had suggested that YRUU was "killed" due to drug use and other issues that you can read about on CC's blog post about YRUU) but I expect that financial considerations were a large part of the decision to "kill it" as CC puts it. It seems to me that the problems that you raise here could have been responsibly addressed without "killing" YRUU. It's not like the UUA would dissolve the Ministerial Fellowship Committee (to say nothing of itself. . .) due to clergy sexual misconduct, clergy drug use, or U*U ministers behaving in a manner that was extremely virulent, negative, and hurtful to people. . . I mean all that has happened and the MFC is still around. Right?

People interested in making the YRUU issues more widely known might want to add comments on CC's widely read blog and also on pertinent posts on UU World editor Chris Walton's Philocrites blog.

Robin Edgar said...

For the record, the rumours about U*U "churches" being "Welcomiong Congregations" are greatly exaggerated. . . A good many U*U congregations are anything but welcoming congregations in a variety of ways.

Ethan said...

Sinkford has posted an update, dated 2/15.

Anonymous said...

robin edgar, you seem to have an agenda other than standing in solidarity with youth and young adults whose power and self-determination is being wrestled away from them right now. Kindly be respectful to the work at hand and wage your personal crusade elsewhere than this blog. Thanks, we love you.

Robin Edgar said...

I am not sure why you felt the need to post that exact same comment twice on this blog oh so anonymous one but I responded to it the first time I saw it over here.

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