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Building a Multi-Church Young Adult Community

Posted by Annie Gonzalez Milliken // December 5th 2013 // Featured Young Adults, Stories and Voices, young adults // no comments

This story comes to us from Stevie St. John, a young adult at the Neighborhood Unitarian Universalist Church in Pasadena, CA.  She shares her experience with organizing young adults from multiple churches to get together for fellowship. – Ed.

Prime number

Tulip_close-upIt is the evening of Thanksgiving as I write this, and I have much for which to be thankful—including UU community.




Today I enjoyed a potluck holiday meal held in the same UU church where, this past weekend, I chaperoned a teen sleepover. Over the past week, I’ve navigated the building and found my way around the kitchen with ease—even though it’s not my church.

That’s because young adults from the greater Los Angeles area have forged a vibrant community, one that stretches beyond the walls of our individual congregations.

Whenever I walk onto the campus of my own church, Neighborhood, I immediately have a sense that I am at home. But I also know that at other area UU churches I will find friendly faces, and most likely some of those faces will be familiar.

The church where I broke bread for Thanksgiving, the UU Church of Studio City, was this summer the site of a multi-church young adult picnic. That event—a beautiful day with Frisbee, food and fellowship—was part of a series of multi-church events designed to bring together young adults from area churches, give them an opportunity to meet one another, and to let them know about the three groups that organized the event series.

Studio City Picnic

There are three  groups who coordinated efforts to produce the events. PARC (PAuse, Reflect, Connect) is the young adult group of the San Fernando Valley; fUUsion is the young adult group of the UU Community Church of Santa Monica; and VOYAGers (Very Old Young Adult Group) is the Neighborhood UU Church group for those born in the ’70s and ’80s.

Each of these groups has its own separate programming such as a monthly discussion session for PARC and a monthly brunch outing for the VOYAGers. Adding multi-church events to that slate of programming gave us all the opportunity to deepen our connections with other UU young adults in the area. Many event guests knew one another from young adult camp at de Benneville or from other UU programming. Other faces were new, and they were warmly welcomed.

In addition to the summer picnic, the 2013 multi-church event series included a game night at Neighborhood Church and an open mic night at the UU Community Church of Santa Monica. Guests at these events came from an array of home congregations. In addition to those who attend the three churches where the events took place, there were guests whose congregations included Throop UU Church; First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles; the UU Church of Long Beach; Emerson UU Church; the UU Church of Riverside; and Pacific Unitarian Church.

Game Night Neighborhood Church

With a coordinated effort to plan and publicize multi-church events, our three organizations were able to bring together young adults from all of these congregations. We played social games, shared food and threw around a Frisbee. We applauded as our peers took the stage to entertain us with singing, dancing, clowning and other talents.

open mic Santa Monica

These events fostered a sense of community—a vibrant, welcoming community for which I am hugely grateful. And I hope that sense of community continues to deepen not just here but far and wide. I’ve heard that new multi-church/regional young adult community-building efforts may be underway in other places. I’m eager to see what young adults in those areas create, to see how they deepen connections that reach beyond church walls and grow our interconnected web.



Stevie St. JohnStevie St. John is a freelance writer and the editor of the LGBTQ site www.SpectrumLosAngeles.com. She can be reached at stevielynnette@gmail.com.


About the Author

Annie is an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister and currently serves our faith as the Young Adult and Campus Ministry Associate for the Unitarian Universalist Association.
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