The Youth Group at UUFCC is an opportunity for all interested youth in 9th through 12th grade to have fun, grow in spirit, and serve the world. Meeting on Sundays during the service in the comfort of the Youth Group Room, youth have the chance to explore and share together their spiritual doubts and questions. Through an approach of small group ministry, Youth Group offers a chance for youth to develop deep, caring friendships while getting to know more about themselves, Unitarian Universalism, and how to live their faith in the world.
We have structured our Youth Group around the Six Pillars of Balanced Youth Ministry:
1. Building Community
One of the most important aspects of Youth Group is the time taken to bond, share values, and establish meaningful friendships. In order to allow the space for these relationships, space is intentionally carved out through specific activities. These activities can include sleepovers and lock-ins at UUFCC as well as social outings like hiking Mount Nittany.
2. Social Action
We encourage the youth to see themselves as agents of change in the world. Social action is one of the most common ways of living one’s Unitarian Universalist faith. This is accomplished through many avenues: social justice projects, advocacy campaigns, community organizing, bearing witness, fundraising, etc.
In order to nurture their spirits, youth take part in an intentional cultivation of their spirituality through both individual and groups practices. Whether through a weekly circle worship or an individual spiritual practice such as meditation, we encourage the youth to deepen their spiritual selves. Once a year, the youth will also lead worship in the Sanctuary for the entire congregation.
As Unitarian Universalists, we are committed to the lifelong search for truth and meaning. We acknowledge that people learn in different ways and as such we seek to infuse each activity with an opportunity to learn. It can take place through social action, worship, leadership, congregational involvement, as well as through curricula.
Youth are encouraged and empowered to take on more responsibility, both in their faith development and in the planning of Youth Group. Leadership can take many forms, but the two most common forms are serving an elected position with Youth Group and serving on a congregational committee.
6. Congregational Involvement
Not only is it important for youth to form meaningful relationships within Youth Group, it is also important to form those relationships in the congregation at large. Fostering multigenerational relationships has been shown to be key in our faith development. Youth are considered just as much part of the congregation as the adults. As such, we encourage them to share their gifts with the entire congregation.
In Unitarian Universalism, we honor the transition from youth into young adulthood with a Bridging Ceremony. For High School seniors (typically 17 or 18 years old), this is a moment to be celebrated and a process to be supported. Bridging refers to both the ritual used to honor the transition but also the process of leaving the youth community to find one’s place in the young adult community.
Bridging can be a joyful and enlightening experience as well as a sad and challenging one. It is important that we support youth through their transition, keeping them connected to Unitarian Universalism and continuing to minister to them as they become adults.
Typically celebrated during a Sunday morning service, the ceremony can include any or all of the following:
- Time for reflections by youth, family, advisors, the minister and/or the Director of Lifespan Religious Education
- Gifts presented to the bridging youth
- Ceremonial Bridging by which the youth are symbolically welcomed by adults of the congregation.