Flexibility, Spiritual Energy, and Wearing Lots of Hats

I love the Youth Caucus at General Assembly because of our community’s open-minded flexibility and fantastically positive energy. This is not to say that these qualities are exclusive to the Youth Caucus, but, as a youth chaplain to the Youth Caucus last year at GA, I had the privilege of observing my peers’ growth throughout the week, and I can assure you that their growth was astounding. Sure, we may be a bit rowdy at times, but our age also gives us a unique readiness to consider alternative opinions and perspectives.

A good example of this comes from an experience at last year’s GA. In addition to being a chaplain, I had the honor of being a member of the Right Relationship Team. Early in the week, another member of the Right Relationship Team pulled me aside and informed me of an issue with one of the games that was played at the Youth Caucus mixer the previous night. The game was called Ninja; to play, a group of people stand in a circle and take turns making swift movements to tap the hand of the person next to them. The last player to remain untapped is the winner. The game is a ton of fun, and very popular, but its name is also a serious cultural misappropriation.
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One Hundred Percent

Editor’s Note: This post comes from Pastor Prayers, the blog of the Rev. Parisa Parsa, who describes herself as a mother and a minister serving a wonderful congregation in Milton, MA. Parisa writes:

This is the text I wrote as the basis for my homily at the UU Vespers service at Occupy Boston on October 16, 2011.  I spoke without notes, so the homily delivered was ‘adapted.’

Isn’t it great to be here?

It is a thing of beauty to see people coming together across political persuasions and ages and ethnicity and just about everything else in order to say: we are all in the same boat.

In order to say: we are all in the same boat and we are not about to let it sink!  It is ours to repair and restore together. (more…)

Enacting Justice: Questioning the Paradigm

Whatever the issue area, be it Occupy Wall Street, immigrant integration, or how we are together in religious community, whether we’re conscious of it or not, a paradigm is operative.  A paradigm is a mindset or set of assumptions, often unexamined, about how things happen. It’s the way we shape and understand information; it reflects our perceptions and approach to problem-solving.

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Changing Ourselves: Theological Reflection for All Ages

Immigration justice work is complex. We Unitarian Universalists sometimes think that we have the solutions to complex problems, that we know how to make things right. But our belief in a free and responsible search for truth and meaning implies that there is always more we can learn and additional layers of meaning to uncover. Can we find a multigenerational approach to justice work that focuses not just on solutions to complex problems, but also gives us opportunities to reflect on, and be affected by, the work we do? As we do justice work in our congregations, we need to help one another keep open hearts and be willing to be changed by what we learn, what we see, and what we experience.

It’s not sufficient to study the facts of the issue. Facts engage our minds, but that’s only a part of the picture. It’s not sufficient to tell the stories of those who come to this country and then struggle with the language, underemployment, access to housing and education for their children, prejudice. Stories engage our emotions, but that’s only part of the picture. In our congregations, we must engage in theological reflection to engage our hearts.

Are children and youth capable of doing theological reflection? I think so. In 2003, the Institute for American Values published a report by the Commission on Children at Risk. The report said: “… a less definitive but still significant body of evidence suggests that we are hardwired for meaning, born with a built-in capacity and drive to search for purpose and reflect on life’s ultimate ends.” The report suggested that an answer to this crisis of children at risk might be found in “authoritative communities…groups of people who are committed to one another over time and who model and pass on at least part of what it means to be a good person and live a good life.” Our churches and families can be authoritative communities, offering people of all ages opportunities to reflect together on issues of meaning and purpose, including immigration justice. (more…)

The Road to Respect: Unitarian Universalist Church of Boulder, CO

This multigenerational program was developed by ministerial intern Kelly Dignan, a seminarian at Iliff School of Theology. Fifty-three people of all ages attended a Saturday program that launched a church-wide social change project focused on immigration by inviting people to develop spiritual disciplines that increase levels of compassion. Here is the link to the plan:  Road to Respect Detailed Plan. Below are pictures of the large group (center), a meditation group (left) and a map activity (right).



Have you done something similar or would you like to? How might such an event work in your congregation?  What adaptations would suit your circumstances? What do you have to share? Come, let’s cook together!

Your Recipes

This is the place where we will post programs, stories, resources, events and actions developed by and happening in our congregations and communities. Send YOUR congregation’s materials to Gail Forsyth-Vail, UUA Adult Programs Director and blog editor. (gforsythvail@uua.org). We’ll post them here, and then recategorize them as the project develops and the resource collection builds.