Silver Linings in Golden, Colorado

The Young Adult Ministry Group at Jefferson Unitarian Church. This photo is featured on their website. (Click image for link.)

The Young Adult Ministry Group at Jefferson Unitarian Church. This photo is featured on their website. (Click image for link.)

Annie Gonzalez recently wrote a spotlight piece for the Blue Boat blog on a young adult ministry in Golden, CO. I loved this blog post and it gave me a lot of hope. Below I discuss why I’m impressed by this church’s effort, but I encourage you to read Annie’s piece.

First of all, I appreciate the fact that the church has formalized its commitment to young adults by creating a Young Adult Ministry Group with members of all ages. It’s important that the ministry is cross-generational because it gives young adults space to lean on older leadership for support. I think we mistakenly assume that younger adults have more energy and time to take on new projects by themselves. And some do, but relying on one dedicated young adult to make things happen is a good recipe for quick burn-out.

The Young Adult Ministry Group at Jefferson Unitarian Church focuses on three groups: youth who have graduated, a 20s/30s group, and a campus ministry at the Colorado School of Mines. Here’s a little info on these groups/areas focus and why I think they are smart:

  • Graduated Youth: The church keeps in touch with graduated youth by hosting semi-annual reunions and sending care packages during finals. This lets the youth know that the congregation still cares about them and wants to continue to support them in their new journeys. As someone who felt disconnected even though I continued to attend, this demonstrates continued support in a clear and tangible way. Also, care packages. That’s just brilliant.
UU Young Adults of Golden, CO

Image posted on the original post on the Blue Boat blog.

  • 20s/30s Group: From what I can tell, this group engages its members in a variety of activities including social justice projects, popcorn theology where they watch movies and discuss, and covenant groups. I think this is actually a lesson for congregations as a whole. By providing a variety of ways to engage and grow, people can supplement weekly services (or lack thereof if they don’t attend) with other ways to feed their spiritual and intellectual curiosity.
  • Campus Ministry: This group is not exclusive to UUs although it is based on UU ideas and values. Not everyone who attends wants a relationship with UUism while others do. And even though it’s a small group, Annie writes that their connections to each other are deep and meaningful. I have zero research to back this up, but I think it’s important for congregations to approach campus ministries as community relationships rather than recruitment tools. That can feel very icky and intimidating.

I find these solutions very encouraging. In a conversation on Facebook, several young adults were discussing what kind of work needs to be done to create effective solutions for young adults in our congregations. On the one hand, we acknowledged that young adults must be willing to commit to making changes in their home congregations and at the regional and national levels. But we also talked about how this expectation of young adults is problematic. If the environment of the church is unwelcome to young adults (however unintentionally) then they would be trying to create something with no support. What Jefferson has done is create a system for young adult ministry that both supports and includes young adults in the process.

Annie, thank you for posting this spotlight. And to Jill and Jacqui, the two mothers who decided to take action. I am celebrating your good work today. Well done. You have inspired me and I hope that your story will inspire others.

 

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