In order to “ensure that the unique gifts and talents of youth and young adults are present in all aspects of the life of the Church” (UCC Bylaws, section 286)1 the Council for Youth and Young Adults shall gather themselves according to these guidelines. These guidelines should be evaluated at least once every two years and altered by the currently convened group if needed in order for the group to best serve its primary functions.
The primary functions of CYYAM2 are to:
- Gather together networks of and build community among UCC youth and young adults;
- Build leadership capacity among UCC youth and young adults;
- Nominate qualified youth and young adult leaders to the UCC National Boards and other wider church leadership positions;
- Assist in the planning and execution of youth and young adult events
- hold two video calls in conjunction with NOWCYM to discuss RYEs, youth@synod and other events throughout the denomination
- Establish and plan youth and young adult Sundays (with curriculum and advertising) for the United Church of Christ
- Make statements on behalf of youth and young adults during relevant world and national events
- Actively maintain social media accounts for youth/young adults
- Host webinars or other learning and faith formation events utilizing online platforms for youth and young adults
The Council for Youth and Young Adult Ministries (CYYAM) shall gather itself in two separate, but overlapping groups:
1.) Youth (applicants should have completed their sophomore year and be no older than 15)
2.) Young adults (graduated high school or its equivalency and be between the ages of 19-26)
The Youth council shall consist of 6-8 youth members and 2-3 young adult mentors while the Young Adult council shall consist of 6-8 members. (For a total of no more than 19 total CYYAM members.) Members will be drawn from UCC youth and young adults from across the denomination via the application process defined below. CYYAM will include two older adult advisors (age 25 and older, preferably of different gender identities/expressions, including persons who identify as non-binary) who will serve as mentors, support and, when necessary, chaperones for youth members of CYYAM. CYYAM will be supported by the UCC’s Faith Education, Innovation and Formation team. All budgetary expenditures shall be approved by the team’s staff liaison in accordance with UCC policies and procedures.
Adult advisors will ensure that mentoring is a crucial part of the interaction between these two groups. For example, Young Adult Members and/or experienced members of CYYAM can be assigned as mentors to younger/newer members of the Council. All members will be responsible for recognizing and recruiting potential new members of the council while they are members. These two age-separated groups shall meet at least once a year in an overlapping session.
As CYYAM seeks to be faithful to the UCCs call for diversity, there may be times that some members will be asked to sit on separate councils/affinity groups and give voice to the youth and/or young adult perspective. While true inclusion and welcoming is this council’s goal, we also know there is much work to do inside and outside of ourselves to make that a reality.
The application consists of open-ended questions so the applicant may express why they’re interested in the position and how their gifts and passions can support the groups’ primary functions. CYYAM, with the support of the Faith Education, Innovation and Formation staff liaison, will build relationships within the wider church to recruit new members during every application cycle. Networks to be utilized include but are not limited to:
- Conferences and Associations
- Network of Wider Church Youth Ministries
- UCC-related colleges, universities and seminaries
- Historically Underrepresented Groups
- Young Adult Service Communities
- Youth and Young adults attending wider church gatherings
- Outdoor Ministries Association
As part of the application process, all applicants will be required to
- submit a completed application
- complete self-disclosure forms
- sign talent/media release
- obtain parent/guardian approval through signed consent form (for all youth members)
- answer open ended, short essay questions
- obtain 2 letters of recommendations (to be sent directly to the designated Faith Education, Innovation and Formation staff member)
Upon the initial appointment of members of this council, half of the members would be appointed to a one-year term and the other half to a two-year term to ensure that there are staggered terms. Chosen young adult appointees will be able re-apply for another two-year term with the approval of the other council members. This initial appointment will be made by a committee comprising a team made up of the Faith Education, Innovation and Formation Team staff, conference staff, United Church of Christ board and/or former CYYAM members.
The application process will be open during the summer of each year (after the initial class of council members) Up to half of CYYAM young adult members may be appointed to a second term. All efforts should be made to include a diversity of members in keeping with the diversity requirements of the UCC Board, as set forth in paragraph 218 of the UCC Bylaws.
Ideal Youth/Young Adult applicants would:
- Be a regular attendee of a UCC church, camp or actively engaged in ministry in their local context
- Build connections between individuals and groups
- Possess a love for the church and a passion for helping it evolve in healthy expressions
- Respond to email and other communications in a timely fashion
- Travel (possibly via airplane) to at least one meeting/gathering per year
- Support others in their faith journey
- Use social media and other digital technologies skillfully
- Be able to participate in regularly scheduled video/conference calls
Ideal Older Adult Advisors applicants would:
- Be a member of a UCC church.
- Support young people’s leadership without being overly controlling or directive.
- Serves as a good listener, organizer and cheerleader.
- Respond to email and other communications in a timely fashion.
- Travel (possibly via airplane) to at least one meeting/gathering per year.
- Support others in their faith journey.
- Use social media and other digital technologies skillfully.
- Be able to participate in regularly scheduled video/conference calls
During each two-year period, each CYYAM will choose, plan and implement a project or program that builds a network of and enhances the leadership of youth and young adults throughout the United Church of Christ, working with existing wider church programs and structures when possible. At the same time, CYYAM will seek to build a strong network of vital youth and young adult opportunities that serves the wider church while providing leadership opportunities, spiritual growth and mission in the world. See Appendix B — Sample projects — for ideas.
All adult CYYAM members (age 18 and over) and other participants will be subject to appropriate background and reference checks in accordance with the UCC’s Safe Conduct policies and procedures. CYYAM members under the age of 18 must respond to self-disclosure questions as well as have parental/guardian permission to participate. When and where appropriate, parents and/or an appropriate chaperone may be asked to accompany minors traveling for CYYAM meetings and wider church gatherings.
The Faith Education, Innovation and Formation staff liaison to CYYAM will serve as an administrative support for the group. The staff member is not a member of the council and is not expected to make executive decisions. Rather, this person shall serve as a guide to point the way to faithful Christian policies, appropriate UCC guidelines, work with council members to arrange travel when necessary and be a resource in their planning and work. It is the responsibility of council members to keep the staff liaison informed of decisions, projects, meetings, etc.
CYYAM definition from UCC Bylaws …
286 Council for Youth and Young Adult Ministries The Council for Youth and Young Adult Ministries (CYYAM) shall serve to advocate, support programs, and be a resource for youth and young adult ministries throughout the United Church of Christ and shall report to the United Church of Christ Board and to the General Synod on issues, developments, and concerns in youth and young adult ministries in church and society. It shall monitor to ensure that the unique gifts and talents of youth and young adults are present in all aspects of the life of the Church. It shall inform, envision, and shape national youth and young adult ministry priorities across the Church. The Council and its membership will act as a resource regarding youth and young adult ministry opportunities across the Church (including but not limited to internships, mission trips, Regional Youth Events, National Youth Event, and General Synod). The Council shall organize itself as needed in order to carry out its work and shall have direct access to the United Church of Christ Board and the General Synod in areas of program and budget. The Council’s composition shall reflect the United Church of Christ’s commitment to having a diversity of perspectives in church governance.
Age of youth and young adults as defined by UCC Bylaws — Youth and young adults are under the age of 30, (1) youth, persons of high school age; and (2) young adults, persons graduated from high school or over 19 years of age.
Diversity of the United Church of Christ Board:
218 The thirty-six at-large members, nominated by the General Synod Nominating Committee, and elected by the General Synod as members of the United Church of Christ Board, shall reflect the following composition:
• Fifty percent (50%) or more shall be persons of color.
• Fifty percent (50%) or more shall be women.
• One third (1/3) shall be authorized ministers or persons with ordained ministerial partner standing.
• One third (1/3) shall be laymen.
• One third (1/3) shall be laywomen.
• Twenty percent (20%) shall be under thirty (30) years of age at the time of election.
To the extent possible, the under 30 years of age members shall include both youth of high school age and young adults. All such members shall be voting members except as legally proscribed.
• At least one (1) member shall be a person who self-identifies as having a disability.
• At least one (1) member shall be a person who self-identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.
Sample Network and Capacity Building Projects
(as envisioned by the CYYAM Dreaming Team October 2016)
- Initiative to build community among youth and young adults through social media. For example, CYYAM could offer devotions and retreats to gather youth and young adults into a conversation in the season of Lent using a FB group or other appropriate social media.
- CYYAM members may seek to pilot a program through selected UCC-related College/University to identify and develop UCC student leadership.
- Working with Justice and Witness Ministries of the UCC, create a youth social justice online platform that offers simple ways to youth and young adults to engage or initiate social justice issues in their communities such as the environment, racial justice, etc. The web page would offer resources for initiating justice events and activities if there were none in local communities already.
- Creating an online “gathering” space and message board in which UCC youth and young adults could find each other in order to build UCC youth and young adult community in their areas.
 Envisioned by the CYYAM Dreaming Team convened by the Faith Formation Team in October 2016