Devotional Subject: Youth

Devotional Subject: Youth

Why Scouting?

UCC-cross-orb-rainbow.pngGod is still speaking and so are our youth. The United Church of Christ (UCC) Scouting Working Group is committed to growing the youth of our communities into responsible citizens and inclusive leaders through Scouting programs. In the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), UCC congregations currently charter over 1,000 Cub Scout Packs, Boy Scout Troops and Venturing Crews.

Since the BSA policy changes in 2013 and 2015, eliminating the ban on gay and bisexual youth and adults in Scouting, the UCC national offices have re-engaged with the BSA. The UCC Scouting Working Group is excited to grow this partnership, encouraging and supporting new and existing Scouting programs in UCC local churches.

 

For more information, please contact:
Brian Conn, Chairperson
UCC Scouting Working Group

 


All About That Bass?

Matt Laney

Warning: I'm about to say something unchristian.


Council for Youth and Young Adult Ministry

The Council for Youth and Young Adult Ministries (CYYAM) advocates, communicates, coordinates, and networks on behalf of youth and young adults of the United Church of Christ (UCC).

The 1985 General Synod established a task force of youth and young adults. In 1987 the UCC by-laws were changed and CYYAM - the Council for Youth and Young Adult Ministries - was formed. CYYAM has been present and has sponsored referenda at almost every General Synod since.

CYYAM members work together and with other church leaders to establish strong youth and young adult ministries throughout the UCC by advocating to church leaders, helping make youth and young adult voices heard at General Synod, seeking to address issues of social justice and peace, and serving as a voice for UCC youth and young adults.

We believe:

•    that the whole church needs the vitality and vision of youth and young adults;

•    that youth and young adults are a part of the voice and vitality of the church today;

•    that we should have effective ministry with youth and young adults in a vigorous intellectual faith;

•    that vital ministry is oriented towards local congregations (of many kinds);

•    the future of the UCC depends on the vitality of this ministry;

•    that the UCC needs to be present in life transitions through youth and young adulthood;

•    in justice, love, service, and living out the mission and vision of our denominational faith which embodies continuing testament, extravagant welcome and changing lives;

•    in the youth and young adults of the UCC and our ability to change lives through Christ!

Help us spread the word about CYYAM and share in the work of your council. Contact us at cyyam@ucc.org.


Wider Church Youth Events

What's Up with You(th)?


Got an upcoming youth event? Email details to youth@ucc.org and we’ll help spread the word!

Name of Event
Event Dates
Event Contact Phone & Email
Event Location & Address
Event Website (if applicable)
Event Social Media Links (if applicable)

 


 

 


 

UCC Regions and the Conferences within them

Great Lakes
•Illinois
•Illinois South
•Indiana-Kentucky
•Michigan
•Ohio
•Wisconsin

Middle Atlantic (Mid-Atlantic)
•Central Atlantic
•New York
•Penn Central
•Penn Northeast
•Pennsylvania Southeast
•Penn West

New England
•Connecticut
•Maine
•Massachusetts
•New Hampshire
•Rhode Island
•Vermont

Southern
•Florida
•South Central Southeast
•Southern

Western
•California Nevada Northern
•California Nevada Southern
•Central Pacific
•Hawaii
•Montana-Northern Wyoming
•Pacific Northwest (Seattle)
•Rocky Mountain
•Southwest (includes Arizona)

West Central
•Iowa
•Kansas-Oklahoma
•Minnesota
•Missouri Mid-South
•Nebraska
•Northern Plains
•South Dakota

Non-Geographic
•Calvin Synod


Dear church: An open letter from young people

Dear Church,

I need you! Like whoa. My life is changing a mile a minute, and I need a spiritual home.

It's a bit nerve-racking to walk into a new church—it took three years for one of my friends to build up the courage to try the local UCC church, even though he knew it was open and welcoming.

The church needs to actively reach out to youth and young adults. This could be as simple as putting your church's name in the list of churches at the local college chaplain's office. Better yet, host an event for the youth or young adults in your area. I've heard about another church that serves a midnight pancake breakfast during finals period, and the whole campus attends this much loved annual event.

You don't need to use that idea, but I am sure homesick college students and young folks new to the area would love a home-cooked meal by loving Christians any time of the year. One church reaches out to young people through their regular social justice programs by advertising the volunteer program to young people in the area.

Whether it is a home-cooked meal, a social justice program, a book group or even a late-night prayer service, I just want a place to make friends with other young Christians.

Youth and young adults are doing all sorts of different things, from starting college to taking their first job. Regard-less of where we are or what we are doing, we are new to our environments and need spiritual partners for the journey.

Church, if there is anything you can do to help me build relationships with other Christians, I would be so grateful! My friend Emilia says, "I need a young adult group in my church! Even if it starts out small, if it isn't there to offer young adults when they come to visit a church, then they feel as if there is nothing there specifically for them."

And Kathryn agrees: "Sometimes, it is just nice to know that the program is there and to have someone to con-nect with over coffee or something…It's nice to have that support and talk about faith or just life in general."

Once you've actively reached out, if you ever see a young person you don't recognize in church one Sunday, don't hesitate to say hello! Many of us go church-shopping to find the right church community for us, and most of the time the first step is just making us feel welcome!

So introduce yourself and ask us about our interests and passions. Who knows? You might make a new friend! As LiErin puts it, "For some young people, a church community is one of the few places to cultivate intergenera-tional relationships. Nurture these relationships! As someone living in student housing, far from my family, I relish the rare opportunity to share a meal in a church member's home or to play Frisbee in a real backyard, with kids of all ages."

One of my friends recently moved to a new town and went to a local UCC church. Everyone was really nice, but it was hard to be one of, if not the only, young person in a congregation with already formed families and friend groups.

As my friend Kevin told me, "People need to realize that oftentimes youth and young adults, not feeling part of the already established group, need to be invited in to ministry and community, not expected to integrate themselves by their own accord."

This does not necessarily mean automatically signing a new member up for the committee in most need of peo-ple. Ask me what my interests are and show me all the different options available in the church. Ask me personally!

My friend Roberta says youth and young adults can be the "active asset of bringing new ideas and a new view to situations."

Youth and young adults have many insights into the church — use us! Listen and take action. We can do so many things like read scripture, design a website, bake for coffee hour, sing in the choir, preach and even write articles. However, you have been in the church longer and know some of the ropes we have not even seen yet. So help us put our ideas into action!

There are many issues that we take very seriously as young Christians. For example, the church is in a unique place to talk about sexuality and faith. Our bodies are changing and the secular world is bombarding us with information about sex and dating. We could use a little guidance. Please don't tell us what to do or what not to do as if the situation is black and white.

But you can give us a place to honestly ask questions and think about how our faith may inform our decisions at this time in our lives. The Our Whole Lives curriculum is a great program to provide such space, and it's a wonderful way to bond with other youth in the church.

Well, here you go church! We love you. We need you. We care. And we know deep down in our hearts that you need us, too. Who else is going to carry on the amazing legacy that is the United Church of Christ?

My friend Meredith sums it up nicely: "Youth and young adults need to be empowered to sustain the church movement and act as Christian leaders seeking a just world."

So here is our challenge to you: reach out to us; encourage us; invite us to the table; and treat us as whole, vital members of the church. Oh yeah, and could you send me a care package?

Mad Love,
Young people of the UCC

Kendra Purscell serves on the Council for Youth and Young Adult Ministries and the Wider Church Min-istries Board of Directors. She ives in Des Moines, Iowa, where she is a Choral Music Education major at Drake University.

Kelly Forbush serves on the Council for Youth and Young Adult Ministries. She lives in Northampton, Mass., where she leads the Ecumenical Christian Community at Smith College. Next year she will attend seminary to study to become an ordained UCC minister.

 


UCC Youth & Young Adult Assessment

In early 2008, Justice and Witness Ministries and Local Church Ministries decided in conversation with the Council for Youth and Young Adult Ministries (CYYAM) to conduct an in-depth churchwide assessment of what support would best serve youth and young adult ministries into the future. A summit was held with key Conference staff, CYYAM and other young people. Out of the summit's work, an interim staff person, Kelly Burd, was hired to support the ongoing work of youth and young adult ministries and Thom Chu was  was contracted as a consultant to carry out the needs assessment to inform a longer term vision and strategy.

In our year-long assessment to shape a comprehensive plan, we:

  • Heard from 173 youth and adults at National Youth Event workshops
  • Gathered 96 youth, young adults, and adults at four regional focus groups across the UCC
  • Convened with 231 additional youth, young adults, and leaders at 14 other events face-to-face, by phone, and online
  • Created an online survey that was completed by over 1,000 youth, young adults, and ministry leaders
  • Interviewed youth- and young adult-serving staff in conference and association setting
Were guided by a diverse advisory committee of young people and adults from various settings of the church. 

Funding for our regional focus groups was supported by a gift from the Ashley Fund in the Minnesota Conference--we are very grateful for that generous gift!

Some dominant priorities and needs emerged from this assessment work with young people and ministry leaders in the UCC.  For example, we learned that:

  • Youth commonly expressed value and interest in interfaith relationships and education.
  • Youth AND young adults placed a high value on:
    • Having opportunities to do mission/service work
    • Having opportunities to learn about about justice issues and get involved in justice work
  • Youth AND Young Adults overwhelmingly stated that the ideal congregation and ministry groups for them are inclusive. They seek a place where “everyone is welcome and accepted.”
  • Young adults expressed a yearning for church ministries that appeal to their diverse lifestyles and needs, including but not limited to:
    • Support of and communication with those away at college
    • Ministries with daycare for those with young children
    • Ministries for singles and for couples
    • Short-term volunteer and church opportunities for those who cannot make long-term commitments to committees and other volunteer needs
    • opportunities to network with young adult peers in the wider church and other local UCC congregations
  • Top needs among youth and young adult ministry leaders in the UCC include opportunities to network with UCC colleagues and leadership training to help them in their ministries with young people.

Read progress reports about the process:

October 2008 Report
March 2009 Report

Read the consultant's Report and Recommendations for Youth and Young Adult Ministries.