Friday, April 25, 2008

Board Letter to the YRUU Steering Committee

To the YRUU Steering Committee

On behalf of the UUA Board of Trustees, I want to thank you for writing us. We share your concerns that the process of implementing the recommendations of the Summit on Youth Ministry should be transparent and fully in partnership with youth. We also want to make sure that during this transition, that youth ministry programming continues. Accordingly, we passed the following resolution at our April meeting:

"The administration shall make the transition in youth ministry an institutional priority now. This process must be transparent and those responsible for implementation must be in authentic relationship with the youth community and its elected leadership. During this transition, the administration must provide monthly progress reports to the Board. The administration shall ensure that UUA support for youth ministry programming is maintained throughout the transitional period."

In addition, we recognize that without Youth Council, there will be no way to elect a new Steering Committee and so, we encourage you in seeking to find a new process to democratically elect a new group of youth leaders for the next year. We have amended next year's budget to provide the same level of funding that Steering Committee got this year to a new "Youth Transition Team," the temporary successor to Steering Committee. We trust that this team will be able to be active participants in the further work of the Youth Ministry Working Group and communicate directly with the UU youth community.

Finally, we have placed on the General Assembly 2008 agenda a business resolution entitled "Youth and Young Adult Empowerment Resolution." By doing this, we hope to provide a springboard for substantial and productive discussion during plenary on youth and young adult ministry and empowerment.

This is a time of change and we thank you for being essential partners in the process of building effective congregationally-based youth ministry. We look forward to working with you and the Youth Transition Team that succeeds you in the year ahead.

In faith,
Paul Rickter, UUA Secretary

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Steering Committee Letter to Board of Trustees

April 17, 2008

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

We are writing to express some of our thoughts and concerns about YRUU funds, the Youth and Young Adult Empowerment Resolution, and the Youth Ministry Working Group.
While collaborating with the Youth Ministry Working Group this year, we have realized the importance of our participation in the implementation of the Summit recommendations. We are invested in a process of change that results in a more robust and spiritually based youth ministry that ministers to all youth in our denomination.

This year we have put a great deal of energy into finding our role in the process of creating a better youth ministry structure. We have also struggled with our responsibility to direct YRUU activities. Due to the extraordinary events of the past months and the ostensible priorities of the UUA Administration, we have focused our energy away from sustaining YRUU activities and towards being a voice for the responsible and accountable creation of a new structure for youth ministry. Given these circumstances, we will not be holding Youth Council this summer.

We have been informed that the proposed budget that you will be reviewing does not include funds designated specifically to YRUU as it has during pervious years, but rather includes a broad Youth Ministry line item. The implication of this change is the cessation of YRUU specific funding and therefore YRUU activities and governance structure. We request that any change in YRUU funding as it has been allocated in the past be accompanied by the formal clarification of the status of YRUU as a Sponsored Organization.

We further request that the Board recommend the following youth ministry funding priorities to the UUA Administration:
· Groundwork – This organization was created out of the partnership of YRUU leadership, C*UUYAN leadership, and the Youth and YA-CM Offices, among others. This partnership reflects a commitment to Anti-Racism/Anti-Oppression work that is based directly in the Youth and Young-Adult experience. Groundwork was created with the expressed goal of ministering to youth and young-adults who were not being served by the Journey Towards Wholeness Initiative. We believe that supporting Groundwork is essential to the continued success of Anti-Racism/Anti-Oppression work in UU youth communities and the denomination as a whole.
· DRUUMM YaYA – YRUU Steering Committee would like to continue its support for the work of DRUUMM YaYA Steering Committee. We hope that the UUA Administration shares this commitment.
· Interweave YaYA – Queer youth in our denomination are not adequately ministered to. We would like to allocate money care of Interweave to be used specifically to support the current efforts to create a youth and young-adult chapter.
· White Allies (ARE) YaYA – We believe that it is important to support white anti-racism work that seeks to be accountable to DRUUMM. We would like to allocate money care of Allies for Racial Equality to be used specifically to support white youth and young-adults seeking to do anti-racism work.
As we move into a new youth ministry structure, it is critical that we build upon the anti-oppression work espoused by YRUU in the last decade and expand support of identity-based ministries.

We are aware that the Youth and Young Adult Empowerment Resolution is an agenda item at your April 18th meeting. We are in full support of this resolution and respectfully request that you consider designating it a full business resolution at GA 2008. We feel that this resolution has the potential to create needed dialog about the importance of youth and young adults in our denomination. A discussion about youth and young adult empowerment during plenary could aid in bringing people together during this time of transition. It provides a concrete foundation for youth to turn to when they need institutional support within their congregations. We know that making this resolution a full business resolution is a special situation. However, the announcement and outcry about YRUU’s ostensible demise occurred after the deadline for GA business resolutions and we feel that this resolution cannot wait another year.

We have concerns about the Youth Ministry Working Group, which we had the opportunity to share with both the Working Group and Kay Montgomery during our April 11th meeting. Our concerns about the Working Group include: that the Working Group was chosen by poor youth/adult power dynamics; that the selection of Working Group members was not transparent and is staff heavy; that the Working Group has had a unclear mission, process and timeline; that the Working Group lacks a critical mass of people currently engaged in youth ministry in their congregations or districts; that there has been no adequate public explanation or outreach in regards to the Working Group’s mandate, goals, process, timeline, or membership; and that there has been a lack of communication and authentic collaboration with YRUU Steering Committee this year. We strongly believe that any committee that is tasked with creating the underpinnings of a new youth ministry should contain a critical mass of youth ministry “experts”—youth engaged in their congregations, adult advisors, ministers doing youth ministry, recently bridged youth leaders. This entire process should be reexamined. We recommend that a reformed, more transparent and democratic, process be created to develop a plan for UU youth ministry.

It is critical to have an active representative youth voice that can guide our denomination in this period of youth ministry transition. In July and August 2008, we plan to administer the nomination and election of a new and yet-unnamed committee that will represent youth to UUA leadership and to the Youth Ministry Working Group. Our hope is that youth and adult advisors who are engaged in Unitarian Universalism—in congregations and districts--will be able to participate in the formation of this committee. We plan to hold elections for the committee online, in the absence of a denomination-wide event that could be inclusive of all eligible youth and adult advisors. This committee will be created with the understanding that it will collaborate authentically with the Youth Ministry Working Group to develop of plan for a new youth ministry structure. We request that the Board of Trustees and the UUA Administration support and collaborate with this new committee in creating a viable, sprit-centered, and justice-seeking youth ministry for our denomination.

In Love, Struggle, and Faith,

YRUU Steering Committee

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

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Board of Trustees Votes to Place YaYA Empowerment Resolution on GA 2008 Agenda

Youth and Young Adult Empowerment Resolution

WHEREAS the Unitarian Universalist Association Bylaws state that our Association promotes "the full participation of persons in all of its and their activities and in the full range of human endeavor without regard to . . . age"; and

WHEREAS statement #12, “Support, Integrate, and Retain youth and young adults to keep our congregations vibrant and growing” in the Open Space Technology Process at General Assembly 2007 received the largest number of votes, 773 votes (representing 12.4 % of the votes cast); and

WHEREAS the future of our denomination benefits from the full participation of youth and young adults to enliven, grow and sustain our Unitarian Universalist movement, principles and ideals, including the use of the democratic process within our congregations and society at large; and

WHEREAS Youth and Young Adult empowerment is an attitudinal, structural and cultural process whereby young people gain the ability, authority and agency to make decisions and implement change in their own lives and the lives of other people to create intergenerational equity; and

WHEREAS unique opportunities at the congregational, district and continental level for youth and young adult self-direction create synergy for a larger youth and young adult identity and promote communication and connections between local youth and young adults across the continent;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the 2008 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association urges the Unitarian Universalist Association, its congregations and district structures to:

1. Invite ministerial support to youth and young adults through inclusive worship and intentional presence; and
2. Invest financial support in youth and young adult leadership bodies and programs when viable; and
3. Provide support for youth and young adult staff and volunteers to receive suitable training and resources, including self-directed anti-racism and anti-oppression trainings; and
4. Attend to the needs of youth and young adult constituents with marginalized identities by providing resources and opportunities within the congregation and at the district and continental levels.