Jesse Jaeger Director of the UUA Youth Office informed me this afternoon that this letter from UUA President is officially public. I support the Youth Office in their efforts to manage both the transition and their professional responsibilities.
Updated 4/13/05 – With the letter from Bill Sinkford outlining the Consultation on Youth Ministry 2005
April 11, 2005
Dear YRUU Steering Committee,
The events of the recent Steering Committee meeting may very well reflect anxiety about change and uncertainty about power as we engage in a process of examining our ministry to and with youth.
Whatever the reasons, the Steering Committee’s demand that UUA staff leave the meeting so that SC alone could decide on the September YPS recommendation was clearly outside the boundaries of established procedures. Excluding the people who would work with and be responsible for the YPS staff, and refusing to discuss the issues interfering with collaboration, moved SC outside of right relationship with UUA staff to an extent that needs to be acknowledged. At this point, proceeding with “business as usual” is not possible.
SC’s behavior was particularly disappointing and hurtful following the special consultation on relationship conducted at the January SC meeting. That work sought to keep communication open when conflict arises. It is likely that right relations, and the structures of authority that support it, cannot be fully established until the Youth Ministry Consultation process addresses this fundamental issue.
It would not be fair, however, for others to take the consequences for the Steering Committee’s actions. We would not penalize the committed youth applicants, the Youth Office staff, or our congregations by reducing or delaying staffing. Therefore, until a productive, respectful relationship is restored between SC and UUA staff, we will hire youth for the position of Youth Ministry Associate rather than YRUU Program Specialist. This means that the UUA will hire the Youth Ministry Associate without the current form of consulting with the SC. Youth Ministry Associates work for the UUA, serving youth in congregations throughout our Association.
Finally, Steering Committee will be asked to sign a covenant regarding appropriate behavior while staying at Eliot and Pickett Houses. Right relationship needs to be re-established with UUA staff there as well.
Rev. William G. Sinkford
From UUA President Bill Sinkford and Youth Trustee Megan Dowdell:
March 18, 2005
The UUA Board directed that a consultation on our ministry to and with youth be convened. We (Bill Sinkford, UUA President and Megan Dowdell,
youth trustee at large) were asked to serve as co-conveners. The first
step of that process occurred February 25th and 26th in Essex,
Massachusetts. We gathered thirty youth and adults from across the
Association to outline a process that would help Unitarian Universalism redefine and recommit to youth ministry. Participants included youth members of the YRUU leadership, youth who do not take part in YRUU activities, parents, youth advisors, ministers, religious educators, and UUA Administration, Staff and Board Members. A complete list of the participant and their roles are attached to this letter.
Working intensively over two days with an outside facilitator, the group identified five priorities to be addressed. These are:
* Youth Ministry needs to be served at a more robust, flexible, diverse level than YRUU currently offers.
* Denominational youth work needs to serve local congregations and their youth ministry.
* YRUU and UUA administration need to define an authority structure that respects the rightful role of institutional youth and adult leadership at the same time that it supports the growth and empowerment of all UU youth.
* Anti-racism and anti-oppression work is an important part of youth ministry, although there is not only one way of doing it, and the "right" way depends on individual identities. We need to move this work ahead.
* There needs to be more and better communication among continental, district, and local levels, and within congregations.
Together, the group generated preliminary ideas for how these five issues should be addressed and who should be involved in addressing them. A smaller group was charged to synthesize the ideas into one coherent plan. This subcommittee will meet in late April to create a draft plan. Key stakeholder groups will then have the opportunity to respond to the proposal before it is finalized. The goal is to have a viable process finalized by August of 2005. It is expected that implementing the process will take one to two years to complete.
Information about each stage of the process will be shared as the work moves forward.
Rev. William Sinkford and Megan Dowdell
CONSULTATION PARTICIPANT LIST
Jova Vargus YRUU Steering Committee
Lehna Huie YRUU Steering Committee
Sean Fletcher YRUU Youth Council Member
Sean Jones YRUU Youth Council Member
Al Jensen YRUU Youth Council Member
Sara Eskrich Non-YRUU Youth
Dana Dwinell Non-YRUU Youth
Jessica Potts-Mee Non-YRUU Youth
Kelsey Pitcairn Non-YRUU Youth
Michael Salandrea Non-YRUU Youth
Julian Sharp Youth Observer to the Board
Brian Kuzma YRUU Program Specialist
Beth Dana Incoming Youth Ministry Associate
Megan Dowdell Youth Trustee to the Board / Co-Convener
Paul Richter UUA Board Member
Rev. Makanah Morriss LREDA and UUMA Representative
Mandy Keithan LREDA Representative
Janice Marie Johnson DRUUMM Representative
Emily Mitchell Parent
James Buckner Parent
Phillip Pike Canadian Youth Advisor
Frank Filz Non-YRUU Youth Advisor
Rick Roehlk Adult YRUU Steering Committee Member
Dori Davenport UUA District Staff
Judith Frediani Director of Lifespan Faith Development
Jesse Jaeger Youth Programs Director
William Sinkford UUA President / Co-Convener
UT Saunders Independent Consultant
Ethan Field Youth Office Assistant