Tuesday, February 19, 2008

UU World Articles

YRUU and C*UUYAN funding, attracting newcomers, and more

Board of Trustees - Letter Concerning YRUU and C*UUYAN

February 19, 2008

On behalf of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Board of Trustees, I'm writing this message to set some facts straight regarding recent announcements affecting Young Religious Unitarian Universalists (YRUU) and Continental Unitarian Universalist Young Adult Network (C*UUYAN).
Over the past few weeks, there has been much discussion about letters sent out by the YRUU and C*UUYAN Steering Committees announcing the decisions by the UUA staff to discontinue their budgets, decisions which would effectively result in the dissolution of YRUU as a continental organization and severely affect C*UUYAN.

In this discussion, two facts need to be emphasized:

-- The fiscal year 2008-2009 budget will not be approved by the UUA Board of Trustees until its meeting in April, so there has been no decision to end financial support for YRUU or C*UUYAN.

-- YRUU and C*UUYAN have status as UUA sponsored organizations that can only be changed by a vote of the UUA Board and we have never voted to change those arrangements nor even received such a proposal from UUA staff.

In short, no decision has been made about the future of YRUU or C*UUYAN and no decision will be made until, at the earliest, the April 18-20 meeting of the UUA Board. And any decision we make will continue to be informed by consultation with all stakeholders in youth and young adult ministry, including both organizations' Steering Committees and the community of youth, young adults, and their adult allies.

In faith,

Paul Rickter, UUA Secretary

Keep Traditions Alive

Remembering our YRUU faith is not only about the institutional aspect, it is about our traditions such as songs, ice breakers, worships, or anything. Please share those dearest memories here.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Bill Sinkford - A Letter to the YRUU Steering Committee

February 15, 2008
To: Young Religious Unitarian Universalists (YRUU) Steering Committee
From: William G. Sinkford,
President, Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA)
CC: UUA Board of Trustees

The two-year Consultation on Ministry to and With Youth made it very clear that we need to imagine new and more effective ways to support youth ministry throughout the Association of Congregations. The vision of multi-generational church life and support for congregational youth ministry which was created at the Summit on Youth Ministry last summer is powerful and positive. This year is intended as the time to create that new imagination. It is a time of transition and is, therefore, complicated.

The findings of the Consultation demonstrate that there is a broad consensus that the current structure for continental youth ministry is not serving our faith well. It is true that Continental YRUU, as we have known it, will be replaced at some point by a new structure that will serve us better. It is the task of the Youth Ministry Working Group to recommend that new structure. The decision to hold the Working Group meetings at the same time as your meetings this year in February and April was intended to maximize the opportunity for Steering Committee input in the development of the new structure.

Unfortunately, as a result of failures in communication within the UUA staff, some incorrect information was shared with you at your recently completed meeting. You were told that the Continental YRUU structure would end in June of this year and that there was no funding in the UUA's budget for Youth Council next summer. The reality is that the UUA's budget for next year will not be presented to the UUA Board for approval until its April meeting. No firm decisions have been made about ending support for the Continental YRUU structure. And because of YRUU's status as a Sponsored Organization, the UUA Board will have to approve any decision to end support for the organization. I apologize for the distress that incorrect information has caused.

I've asked the Office of Youth Ministry staff to prepare a set of "Frequently Asked Questions" about this process so that there will be clarity for all of us.

I hope this letter helps clarify where we are in the process. I am very sorry that inaccurate information was reported to you as fact. It is my most sincere hope that we, together, can reclaim the positive energy of the past two years and move toward a youth ministry which will serve Unitarian Universalism well.

In faith,

William G. Sinkford

Friday, February 15, 2008

Letter from Nick Allen - YRUU Steering Committee Representative on the Youth Ministry Working Group

Dear YRUU Friends and Allies,

As the YRUU representative on the Youth Ministry Implementation Working Group, and as someone who has been involved with the consulting and implementing of this youth ministry initiative for the last year and a half, I would like to speak to what happened this weekend with the ending of continental YRUU. These are my personal thoughts and they do not necessarily agree with the UUA’s position or YRUU Steering Committee's position.

First, I want to express my regret. One word that has been thrown around a lot at last weekend’s Implementation Working Group meeting is “transparency.” Continental YRUU’s disbandment has been an unspoken administrative objective for years, but it has not been made explicit to those whom that decision most deeply affects: youth. I am dismayed that, after so much talk about multigenerational relationships, multigenerational communication effectively broke down out of fear of retaliation. The end of continental YRUU should have been clearly in the cards from the start, not sprung upon the youth as a “final step.”

That said, we cannot choose to accept this with the finality with which it was presented. It has been demonstrated to us, on so many painful occasions, that this continental leadership structure does not work. It does not efficiently disseminate information to district and congregational levels of youth leadership. It does not give youth a strong and influential voice within the institution. It is not accessible to the great majority of Unitarian Universalist youth. And, most importantly, it does not provide authentic empowerment to young folks, especially Queer/Genderqueer youth, Youth of Color, and otherwise marginalized youth. As stated at the Summit on youth ministry, YRUU cannot continue to function as it does: with great ineptitude at a high cost to all. What exists is beyond resuscitation.

It’s clearly time for something new. But starting again, unlike letting go process, cannot be an administrative mandate. If we’re going to take this back, then let’s do it. Let the staff and the administration know how you feel. Send emails and calls to Jesse Jaeger (617-948-4359, jjaeger@uua.org), Judith Frediani (617-948-4373, jfrediani@uua.org), and Bill Sinkford (617-948-4301, bsinkford@uua.org). Tell them you’re pissed (I did), but tell them where you see us going from here. Just don’t, for your individual higher power’s sake, do nothing. Without feedback, this process will become patronizing and even more damaging than what is in place.

It should also be made clear that aside from providing them with more financial and staff resources, this does not yet affect the current structures of the youth movement at the district or congregational levels. Our youth groups and cons will only change as much as we individually wish them to.

We, as a faith, fight what it aged and out-of-touch. We are a faith about awakening the spirit, not imposing individual creed on others. We are a movement that challenges old standards and revisions our practices towards more equitable ends, not one that is complicit with the status quo. We, as a people, challenge and constantly renew our convictions; we do not, and will never, accept mandates as Truth. Change is a rejuvenating process for us, and as long as we are liberal, inquisitive, courageous, and open-hearted, Unitarian Universalism will always remain a Young Faith.

To borrow the words of a dear friend:

Let’s forgive ourselves. Let’s forgive each other. Let’s begin again in love.

Yours with Faith,

Nick Allen

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

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

C*UUYAN Letter on Funding Cut

Funding for C*UUYAN was cut before funding for YRUU. For the young adults, this decision came without a "Consultation" process. The letter to C*UUYAN can be found here: UUA cuts funding for C*UUYAN.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

YRUU Institutional Memory Project

Calling all UUs involved in YRUU past and present:

The YRUU Institutional Memory Project will enable the UU community to gain a better understanding of the events of the past few years as they relate to YRUU. Anyone may post to this blog and, barring explicit content, all submitted posts will be posted. 

To post, email yruusc@gmail.com with subject line "YRUU Institutional Memory Project."

YRUU Steering Committee - UUlogy for YRUU

Monday, February 11, 2008

YRUU Steering Committee Letter on End of YRUU Structure

February 11, 2008

To whom it may concern,

      As the continental YRUU Steering Committee, it is with great sorrow that we inform you that on June 30, 2008 the UUA will cease to fund YRUU youth activities at the continental level. Therefore, Youth Council will not be held this summer or in the years to follow and YRUU Steering Committee 2007-2008 will be the last. The UUA will continue to fund and support Youth Caucus at GA and the Chrysalis training program. The work of youth ministry within the UUA will shift to a congregationally based focus.

      This change has been in the works for several years. At the Long-Range Planning Meeting in 2003 between YRUU and the UUA, a "Common Ground III" was proposed. “Common Ground” is in reference to the two meetings in the early 1980's that dissolved Liberal Religious Youth (LRY) and created Young Religious Unitarian Universalists (YRUU). The Common Ground III resolution, drafted in consultation with Bill Sinkford and the Board of Trustees, stated that further goal setting and re-imagining of youth ministry and YRUU was needed. At Youth Council 2004 consensus on the resolution of Common Ground III was blocked preventing it from passing, and in the following months the UUA Board of Trustees convened the Consultation to and with Youth that conducted a survey and congregational, district, and stakeholder conversations related to UU youth ministry. The Consultation process culminated with the Summit on Youth Ministry in July 2007. The Summit resulted in a vision for the future of UU youth ministry that focused largely on congregationally based programs. To carry out this vision, the Youth Ministry Working Group was formed, charged with implementing the objectives outlined in the Summary Report on Ministry to and with Youth. The Youth Ministry Working Group has a heavy UUA staff presence but also includes volunteer members, four of whom are youth. The working group held its first meeting February 8-11, 2008.

      Although official YRUU structures will cease to exist at the end of June, youth programming on the district and congregational levels will continue relatively unaffected. Current youth resources available from the Office of Youth Ministries will continue to be available.

      YRUU Steering Committee will now be advocating for the creation of a strong continental youth leadership body that would have the explicit goal of serving congregations and that would be empowered to direct the resources of the Office of Youth Ministries. We will also be advocating for support of anti-racism/anti-oppression work within youth ministry. The YRUU Steering Committee calls on the UUA to support the Groundwork collective of trainers, the Youth Social Justice Training (YSJT), and identity-based ministry groups like DRUUMM YaYA.

      As representatives of the larger UU youth community, we value feedback on our blog at http://uulogy.blogspot.com/. Thoughts, memories, rants, and love notes are appreciated and welcomed. There you will also be able to find current information about the youth ministry transition process.

In Love, Struggle, and Faith,

YRUU Steering Committee

Elisabeth Moore
Rose Roberts
Will Floyd
Kimberlee Tomczak
Kasey Neiss
Paul Rickter
Noah Hurowitz