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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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…)

Enter the Kitchen

There is much buzz in Unitarian Universalist circles about Justice GA 2012 in Phoenix. Here’s what Asha Arora, this year’s GA Youth Caucus junior dean, known as a HUUPER (Hardcore UU Person, Energized and Ready), has to say.

When I was younger I disliked Sunday school. I had to wake up early and I enjoyed my sleep.  That hasn’t changed but something else has- the number of amazing people I know all thanks to COA and YRUU. Everyone in YRUU has helped me feel happy and respected. So when I got the chance to be a delegate and represent the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Phoenix at General Assembly 2011 I was thrilled. I was elated to be in an environment created by some incredible UUs. I was so inspired by this experience that I applied to be the co-dean of General Assembly’s next two youth caucuses.  To my surprise, I was selected and I cannot wait for General Assembly 2012.

However, this GA isn’t typical. You’re coming because in my state of Arizona we are having a social justice crisis. Hate seems to always be present. I am grateful that you are coming with the intention of healing this with love. Unfortunately, this anger is spreading. So I ask you spend this time before GA preparing. I know that if we do so, once we gather for 2012 our impact will be even stronger.

We have work to do if we are to accept with integrity the invitation from immigration justice organizations in Phoenix. (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!