Being 16 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time has its advantages, I get to grow older a bit faster! Unfortunately this isn’t for my sweet 16 when I wanted a license in the Oregon suburbs, or my 21 when I craved to bar hop in Eugene. Yep, I’m 35, and technically "aged out" of my young adult years.
I started my celebration this morning with several text birthday wishes, very popular here in the Philippines, including a nice little text present graphic from one of my mentors Rev. Nihal Attanayake, an amazing Sri Lankan-descent UU minister with the UU Church of the Philippines. It seems I’ll get like 40 hours of birthday, as folks in North America start to recognize Feb 22 is really here!
I always shared the same birthday of George Washington, thought that was cool. But now have learned in my aged wisdom that I share it with some other great young adults, including a Groundwork Trainer and old friend from New Orleans, and another New Orlean connected UU, a student minister there and visionary of CYF and FUUSE technology.
We had a nice luncheon here in Dumaguete, and I’m moving up to Makati in Manila this evening with family. Miyka is learning to say "birdday" and "huppy", and gives me a lot of great faces.
I spiritually and emotionally left young adult ministry at about 30. My old friend Rev. Alison Miller would remind me though that at age 27 at GA in Salt Lake City, when the Bridging Ceremony finally went to All-GA in the Plenary Hall and I was invited to speak, that I talked about stepping back and making space. So maybe I was always on my way out, something that I think is probably healthy for leaders to be thinking about – their transition – almost from the moment they start. The 17 years of the UU young adult lifespan seems awfully large to a lot of folks. I still find it developmentally and organizationally appropriate. You’ve got to break down the ministries, but it is still the most underserved and underrepresented age group in our congregations. Still, we all mature in our UU faith at different rates, and find the communities to sustain us at different times.
I’m glad for all my experiences in young adultdom of the UUA (and more recently through the National Council of Churches experiences!). Leaving the UUA in December 2007 after exactly 10 years on staff was perhaps well timed. I am deeply changed by the folks I met, and grateful for the opportunity to involve and inspire others in their UU faith journey. I looked over the 2000 ConCentric Roster, and recognized nearly 50% of the 100 folks there now as ministers, RE Directors, Youth Advisors, Congregational Presidents and so forth. Not bad for a bunch of radical UU 20 somethings. A lot more can be said about the amazing connections that have evolved through young adult and campus ministry. Perhaps a good book will be written about it in the future.