I really don’t know how to begin writing about something so powerful and important in my life that I embarrassed myself immensely by crying with joy about it at a UUFF Board meeting once. Young adult ministry, like any UU ministry to any age group, is life-saving work. Introducing 18-35 year olds to the principles of UUism and the UUFF community can change lives with everything from access to OWL, comprehensive sexuality education, to “a place to go and be with people” on weekends and weekdays.
In Y’ALL, I can express and celebrate UUism with activities that speak to me. I can’t walk into a public space and go all flaming chalice. In Y’ALL, that is totally okay and encouraged. Results of a survey from last year indicate that the top three reasons people join Y’ALL are to make friends, have fun, and to share and learn about UUism with other UUs their own age.
Y’ALL began in 2012 but enjoyed an explosion of activity and membership in the past two years. In April, we went on a trip to the Eureka Springs Unitarian Universalist Fellowship where we met congregation members at a reception, did a historic walking tour of the underground, stayed overnight in the EUUF building, wandered the town, attended Sunday service and coffee hour. This is the second official Y’ALL trip we’ve done; the first one was a visit to All Souls UU in Tulsa Oklahoma for Youth Sunday 2015 (which was awesome!).
The first successful events that brought us together were Dream Circle dinners where we talked about what we wanted as YA UUs at UUFF. There are a variety of activities in Y’ALL that attract different people: weeknight coffee hours, 2nd and 4th Thursday night Cartoons for All Ages, weekday and weekend service projects like stocking stuffers, gardening at Tri Cycle or helping the homeless, overnight trips to other UU congregations, occasional hiking or fun events and spiritual discussions, dinners, and of course the coffee hour huddle after Sunday services. Y’ALL is also helping bring to life Linda Flores’ designs for a UUFF Little Free Library and Little Free Pantry near the building!
On movie nights for the past year (Cartoons for All Ages), we’ve been watching Avatar the Last Airbender cartoon series and Miyazaki films because they’re so UU! Themes in the Avatar cartoon series include peace, genocide, war, environmental justice, animal rights, worth and dignity for all people regardless of ability or identity, poverty, pollution, religious diversity and tolerance, spiritual growth, multiculturalism, racism, sexism, democracy, and more. Avatar Aang was listed as one of the most UU characters in UU World magazine. The films of Hayao Miyazaki focus on themes of environmental justice and peace against a beautiful backdrop of stunning artwork and believable, complex, thought-provoking characters.
This fall, the UA registered student organization “UU Razorbacks” will form the Campus Ministry wings of Y’ALL, promoting UUism and UUFF for students who may need this in their life. Young adult ministry is life-saving work and I’m proud to be a part of it with the people who form my spiritual home.