| March with MBD in Boston Pride Parade
|If your congregation is not already marching together at the June 13 Boston Pride Parade, please consider marching under the Mass Bay District banner. To sign up and for more details,
email Meck Groot.
| OWL Trainings
September 11 to 13
September 25 to 27
January 8 to 10
January 22 to 24
Become an MBD Chalice Lighter!
|The Chalice Lighter Program allows individual UUs to support exciting and innovative projects in our District's congregations.
For more information and to join, click here!
Join us @ G.A.!
|General Assembly is June 24-28 in Salt Lake City and
registration is still open. Come see a new UUA President elected and enjoy UU University as an integral part of GA programming.
Salt Lake City was such
a wonderful site for 1999 GA that we are back again! The city isn't what many think. A
majority of the population is non-Mormon, 40% are people of color, and three state
legislators representing the city are openly gay or lesbian. Beautiful pre/post GA
vacation opportunities abound!
We hope to see you there.
|What's Next for our Youth?
by Greg Buckland
Coordinator for Youth, Young Adult and Campus Ministry
I want Unitarian Universalist youth to grow up to be
lifelong Unitarian Universalists. Maybe that's a provocative statement, but
provocation is in order. Each year in our denomination, approximately 4,000 youth
reach age 18 and "bridge" into young adulthood. Currently between 85 and 95 per cent of
them do not find a congregational home after they leave the congregation of
their youth.* After years of RE classes, OWL,
Coming of Age, and vibrant youth programs, most of our 18-year-olds "fall off
the cliff" and are never seen or heard from in our congregations again. By
contrast, the UCC (Congregational) church, our denominational cousin, retains
about 50 per cent of its youth into adulthood, while Evangelicals and Catholics fare
better still, retaining upwards of 60 per cent.
"Why such a dramatic drop off?" some might ask. Others might
reply, "We should be proud of our youth choosing to spread their wings and seek
other opportunities for growth" or "Why should we impose our faith tradition on the young?" To the latter, I say: we
do not seek to impose anything. Rather, we seek to create space, resources and
opportunities in our congregational life for those youth who choose to maintain
a UU identity and remain part of a UU community.
It is often said that we must "build a bridge" for
graduating youth so that they don't fall off the proverbial cliff. As a senior
"bridging" youth, I believed the bridge led to a community of young adults, the
logical next stage of development. The older I get, however, the clearer I am
that we are not building a bridge merely to a new developmental stage but to
life-long Unitarian Universalism that supports the ongoing faith development of
Building such a bridge is complex and ongoing, but here are
some steps our congregations can take:
Integrate youth into
the life of your congregation now. Though all age groups need opportunities
to be together as peers, too often, youth and youth groups are relegated to be
"in the basement" or "out of sight, out of mind." How are the youth involved in
the life of the congregation? Are they empowered to participate in the work of
the church? Are they included in the planning and visioning of worship? Are
staff and volunteers who work with youth equipped for success? This hard work
requires patience, time, and dedication, but the more integrated and supported
youth are now, the easier the transition to adulthood will be.
- Develop and offer
resources for Bridgers, and young adults raised in Unitarian Universalism.
Religious Educators in our faith are doing an excellent job. They put enormous
resources and research into designing excellent curriculum for younger UUs. RE
classes, Neighboring Faiths, Coming Of Age, and Our Whole Lives (OWL) are
excellent programs tailored to developmental needs of children and youth. Fewer
curricula exist, however, for older youth and young adults who are facing
myriad transitions in their lives. Additionally, folks who grow up in a UU
context are often at a different place in the context of Lifespan Faith
Development than adults coming to UUism from other faiths or no faith. Many
youth and young adults seek deep connections and opportunities for "Faith
None of this is simple or easy, but the sooner we start and the
more we invest in young people and support their transition to adulthood, the
richer and more vibrant our faith movement will become.
Grow awareness in our
congregations about Bridging and transitional age. Take a look around your
congregation this Sunday. There are likely some folks there that fall into this
stage of life. If you do not already, have a Bridging Ceremony or Bridging
Sunday for them. Some of the resources listed below can help you develop a
Bridging curriculum for your senior youth.
* Statistics on
retention of young UUs into adult membership: Each year in our denomination, approximately
4,000 youth reach age 18 and "bridge" into young adulthood. Additionally,
on average, Unitarian Universalism is growing by about 1,200 adult members
per year. Assuming that these adult members roughly reflect the makeup of
our congregations, about 12.5%, or 150 of them, were raised UU. (Sources: Office of Young Adult
Ministries, Rev. Christina Wille Mcknight.) If we are truly only gaining 150
adult members who were raised UU each year, that reflects a 96% drop-off
rate from the 4000 bridgers each year. It is possible that a higher
percentage of new adult members each year were raised UU, but even if we quadruple that percentage to 50% (or 600
new members per year) this is still only a 15% retention rate (85% drop-off)
from the 4000 bridgers.
Bridge Connections Program
You may know a young adult, or a youth approaching adulthood
in your congregation. Too often we lose
track of our young adults in the shuffle of their life transitions. The Office
of Young Adult Ministries at the UUA is unveiling a new "Bridge Connections" program to help us maintain connections with youth who have left the UU homes
of their youth. Please see theUUA's Bridge Connections webpage or email Greg Buckland for more
It is time for us to build a bridge to lifelong Unitarian
Universalism for those youth who choose to cross it.
Let Your Life Speak
One of the great spiritual teachers, Palmer
explores how we might discern our personal call.
Youth and young adults travel a metaphorical faith journey
in this unique and personalized notebook. Includes activities and space for
journaling. A great gift for Bridging youth.
Crossing the Bridge from Youth to Young Adulthood: Designing
and Implementing a Bridging Ceremony in Your Congregation
Formerly called Bridging
Ceremony Resource Pack, now revised and updated. Comprehensive resource
guide for congregations planning a Bridging Ceremony. Focuses on the ceremony
itself - the liturgy, the underlying philosophy, and ways to connect new young
adults to UU communities after the ceremony. Also valuable for planning youth
and young adult-oriented worship services throughout the year.
Children of a Different Tribe
A self-described "anthropology of UU young adult
developmental issues," Children of a Different Tribe is the reflections of one
UU young adult raised within the faith, who wrestles with the transition into
adulthood, what it means for her faith, and her spiritual development.
| MBD News Editor
Massachusetts Bay District of UU Congregations