Welcoming The Last of the Millennials to Your Church

Posted by Bart Frost // August 25th 2017 // no comments

The Annual Beloit College Mindset List is released for each new entering class as way to acknowledge the differences in worldview (or mindset) of incoming first-years. Originally, it was intended as a way to remind professors to watch their references with students. It continues to serve this purpose and has become a larger pop culture touchstone reminding the public of the worldview of 18 year olds. This year’s list, for the Class of 2021, reminds us that:

They are the last class to be born in the 1900s, the last of the Millennials —  enter next year, on cue, Generation Z!

This is an opportunity for you and your congregation to explore how you might be more welcoming to younger folks in your congregation. Beloit also publishes a discussion guide relating to the list to be used be counselors, professors and students. What conversations have you, your Board or Lifespan Religious Education team had that are similar to these? What conversations could you be having?

Three points from the list that can help you explore how your church serves and relates to younger folks:

  1. The Class of 2021 the first generation for whom a “phone” has been primarily a video game, direction finder, electronic telegraph, and research library.

Is your website mobile optimized and is the information a young visitor needs to be able to show up front and center? Are your service and office hours listed on Google? Do you offer texting as a way to communicate with the minister or seek pastoral care? Do you offer mobile giving?

2. Amazon has always invited consumers to follow the arrow from A to Z.

Amazon mastered home delivery, how is your congregation ministering to students where they are? Do you offer transportation for students? Do you send care packages to your students while they are at school? How do you provide spiritual and emotional sustenance during high stress times?

3. Men have always shared a romantic smooch on television.

Do you remember when they couldn’t show a toilet on Leave it to Beaver or mention Lucy’s pregnancy? What is considered acceptable in mainstream society changes over time. Queer was once a word for “odd,” then a slur, and is now openly embraced by many young folks as a positive identity. If you want a taste of what the younger folks are talking about these days, just check out Teen Vogue, full of information about safer sex, healthy relationships, and challenging oppression! What is your community doing to stay educated and culturally relevant?

Here are three additional ways you can welcome our youngest adults into your faith community:

  1. Put your congregation’s young adult or campus ministry on The HubMap. Need support doing outreach with young adults or starting a campus ministry? Email    our young adult and campus ministry association, Rev. Annie Gonzalez Milliken at agonzalez@uua.org.
  2. Study up on Coffee Hour Caution and this version adapted by the Quaker General Conference.
  3. Feed them. Both food and spiritually, be willing to make changes. Host “family dinners” and invite college students and other emerging adults to be a part of the family. Bring care packages. Provide rides to the annual Animal Blessing.


What are the ways you are welcoming the last of the millennials? Share in the comments!



Spiritual Practices for White Anxiety

Posted by Annie Gonzalez Milliken // August 18th 2017 // 2 comments

Tomorrow some right wing extremists are planning to hold a rally in the city I live in and I’m planning to march against white supremacy. Like many folks, I have a lot of questions rattling around in my brain. I have petty selfish questions, logistical questions, and deep questions. I’m wondering “How much violence will there be?” and “Should I wear a love shirt over my clergy shirt?” and “What if the cell phone towers jam and what if it rains?” and “What if things start to escalate, should I leave? Should I try and protect my friends of color? Will I have the courage to do that?” and “What if white people in our march are being obnoxious, should i intervene or should i just take care of my own self?” and “How will I get my 10 am coffee fix and how much water should I bring?” and “Is it good that i’m meeting up with clergy or should I have been a marshal or be marching with my church?” 

I have so many questions. So many. I’m a white woman, and I’m anxious.

I know i’m not alone here. I know that because i went to a meeting last night to prepare people of faith for this march and there were a lot of anxious white women there asking questions about everything from whether stores would be open for business (answer: we don’t really know) to how many white supremacists would be showing up for their “Free Speech Rally” (answer: we don’t really know) to what the exact march route would be for our march (answer: we don’t really know).

It’s reasonable to be anxious right now. If you’ve seen the documentary Vice made about the white supremacists who gathered in Charlottesville, you know that, as our trainer said last night, “these people aren’t playing.” It is reasonable to be anxious about our country, about white supremacy and its violence, about responding the right way, about how to be a good person given evil systems, about staying safe.

And, we white folks (especially us white cis women) have to know how to manage this anxiety if we are going to be effective at dismantling white supremacy. Because getting paralyzed into inaction is just not an option. And trying to find the right answer to all those questions in our brains is not only impossible, it likely won’t be that helpful, and it will almost certainly annoy some organizers along the way, particularly the folks who have to face the violence of white supremacy every day of their lives by simply existing.

Last night my friend and colleague Rev. Elizabeth Nguyen reminded our group at the training that we have spiritual practices to deal with uncertainty from our faith traditions. She mentioned breathing and singing and chanting as practices she uses, and reminded us that we can use these practices for the uncertainty of illness, the uncertainty of having a child, the uncertainty of attending a protest.

So building on her much needed reminder and in the tradition of spiritual practices for white discomfort and privileged fragility, i offer spiritual practices for white anxiety, to keep us rooted in our values and growing in the work. 

Use silence and stillness
When you feel that energy rising and you go to raise your hand in the meeting or text your friend or type on Facebook or whatever, try taking a moment of silence and stillness. Try being with your anxiety for a few moments. Maybe you’ll even find that underneath or behind it is fear or anger or shame or grief. Notice that. Explore what you’re feeling. Pray in the silence, if that’s something you do, or meditate in the stillness if that’s something you do.

Use your body and breath
Our bodies are such excellent teachers. Where in your body is your anxiety living right now? Your stomach, your chest? Sometimes mine lives in my forearms, weirdly enough. Note that. Maybe you can stretch or walk or dance or do yoga in a way that helps release some of your bodily anxiety. And don’t forget to breathe. Notice your breath. Try breathing in deeply through your nose and out through your mouth. Try making your stomach move out with each breath. Try counting your breaths. Try focusing in on only your breath. Practice attending to your body and breath regularly so that when you’re in an anxiety producing situation it will come more naturally.

Use music or poetry
On the night when Donald Trump was elected president, I didn’t know what to do with myself. The beer, the ice cream, the cigarettes, the bouncing from news source to news source, none of it was helping me feel human. Until i went out on the porch with a few friends and sang songs. The song that i found most useful in that moment was “Why Why Worry.” The familiarity of singing and the message that we can pray, sing, march and act faithfully instead of staying in our worried minds pulled me back into a semi-functional state. I put that song on again after watching Charlottesville footage early this week. But you can use whatever song or poem speaks to your heart. Maybe it’s a traditional hymn, maybe it’s a pop song, maybe it’s a protest chant, a Mary Oliver poem, a psalm. Memorize it, download it, write it on a paper and fold it up and put it in your pocket, sing it quietly to yourself while you walk down the street, blast it full volume in your room. Use it when you need to be more functional, more human.

Use discernment
While anxious questions can be unhelpful, that doesn’t mean questions aren’t valid. We are in quite a time and there is no perfect way to defeat white supremacy. It is good and right to spend time in discernment. It is good and right to ask yourself “what actions are most effective, what actions match my values and gifts and respect my limitations,  what actions will stretch me in ways I want to grow, what actions are more about my ego or getting swept up in the current than about commitment to liberation?” You can journal on these questions or talk with a trusted friend who has agreed to listen or you can be with them in prayer or meditation. There’s still no right answer, but there are wiser and more intentional choices.

Use relationships
Relationships are key to all movement work, to all efforts to dismantle white supremacy. White supremacy isolates us, and so building our interdependence and vulnerability is a powerful way to combat it in our souls. Make sure you have folks in your life who will comfort you in your anxiety and make sure you’re not asking that labor of people of color or others more threatened by white supremacy than you. Use a friend as a discernment buddy as suggested above or do some other practice on this list with others. Singing, praying, chanting, meditation, and movement can all be even more powerful in groups!

Use faith and love
Faith is a form of sacred trust. It’s moving into the uncertainty though the answer is: we don’t really know. Faith doesn’t feel like “it’s all going to be ok,” faith feels like “I trust that i am enough for this work, I trust the people of color i am following, I trust that love is actually stronger than violence.” Faith is when you don’t have much hope, but you show up anyway.  And why show up anyway, without hope? Because of love. When I watch the footage from Charlottesville and I think about how much i love my friends of color, my Jewish friends, my trans friends, my disabled friends, and my visibly queer friends i feel more commitment to this work and I also feel more fear and grief. Love isn’t always pleasant, but love makes this personal. Love makes us powerful.

These practices are good practices. They are good for this precise moment and for the white folks in Boston who are showing up tomorrow, but they are also good for so many other situations. They are good when our overtly racist friends and family members are making us anxious and we don’t know how or whether to respond, they are good when we’re struggling to make that phone call to that representative because we hate the phone, they are good for when we want to give super generously to fund Black organizers but aren’t used to it and feel hesitant, they are good when we binge on the news and can’t sleep, they are good when we say an awkward racist thing and think we’ll never recover from our embarrassment, they’re good whenever we’re not sure what to do or what will happen. These practices are good for dismantling white supremacy. I forget to return to them all the time, but whenever i remember, i find I’m a little bit stronger, a little bit wiser, a little bit more ready to work on getting us all free.

What spiritual practices do you use for anxiety in these times? Please do let us know in the comments.

Activating Justice for Migrant Farmworkers

Posted by T. Resnikoff // August 2nd 2017 // no comments

Deva Jones, Senior Associate for Service-Learning and Volunteer Placements, led a group of youth on one of UUCSJ’s newest programs Activate Florida: Solidarity with Migrant Farmworkers this April. To learn more about this program visit http://uucsj.org/florida/ 

Old Ship Youth Group in ImmokaleeWhat do you think of when you hear, “Florida?  For many, the first words that come to mind are beaches, warm weather, vacation, and Disney World. For myself and the youth I led on a service learning trip to Immokalee, Fla., we do think of shared experiences, fun, and the outdoors. But above all else, we remember the inspiring farm and food justice organizers we met there, and the new framework for activism that they helped us build.

The Unitarian Universalist College of Social Justice (UUCSJ), a collaboration between the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) and the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), promotes human rights through immersion learning programs. In April, I had the privilege of leading a youth group from Old Ship Church in Hingham, Mass. on the very first UUCSJ Activate Youth Justice Journey to Immokalee. During our trip, we learned first-hand about issues facing migrant farmworkers and grassroots efforts to improve conditions.

Boycott Wendy's BannerLike many low-wage workers across the United States, migrant farmworkers in Southwest Florida face wage theft, harassment, threats of deportation, and discrimination in their work environments. In the face of these injustices, the resilient Immokalee community works together to advocate for their rights, including through the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW). CIW is a community-led grassroots organization that monitors workplace conditions and improves pay, conditions, and treatment for farmworkers through the Fair Food Program, a worker’s rights and corporate responsibility agreement. After learning from the CIW for two full days and leading a demonstration outside of a Wendy’s restaurant in Naples, Fla. (Wendy’s remains the only large fast food chain to not sign onto the Fair Food Program), the Old Ship Church youth group was eager to put their new knowledge and understanding of justice issues and grassroots organizing to work.

Youth With Dignity Sign

Learning about issues first-hand, and with peers, is a powerful way for youth to become engaged in new human rights and social justice issues. Through learning about one issue in depth, such as farmworker justice in Southwest Florida, youth become equipped with new activist tools and skills—and are inspired to action.

What do you think of when you hear the word, “youth”? When I think of the youth from Old Ship Church and the many others I have met through UUCSJ, I think of thoughtful, energetic activists who want to build a better, more just future.



Apply Now to Lead the UU-UNO Spring Seminar

Posted by T. Resnikoff // July 28th 2017 // no comments

The applications to join the Seminar Staff as a Youth Dean or Adult Dean for the 2018 Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office Intergenerational Spring Seminar are now open and are due August 2nd, 2017

The 2018 Seminar, on the topic of refugees and the global migration crisis, will be April 5-7, 2018 in New York City.

Click here to read what the two Youth Deans from the 2017 Intergenerational Spring Seminar wrote about their experience leading the seminar,and get inspired to apply to be a Youth Dean for 2018-19!

(Youth Dean is a two-year position—this person will serve as Junior Youth Dean in 2018 and Senior Youth Dean in 2019.)

What UU Campus Ministry Looks Like in Trump Times

Posted by Annie Gonzalez Milliken // July 12th 2017 // no comments

UU Campus Ministry Partners with Undocumented Student Center

Submitted by the Rev. Beth Banks

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Davis has a long-standing campus ministry, supported by a Senior Minister, a yearly intern and a Campus Committee from the congregation.

Recently we’ve been asking what it would look like if we did more than provide a home-cooked meal, a facilitated discussion, activities, and pastoral care for students exploring Unitarian Universalist. This year we found out what that could mean.

What has emerged is a very different campus ministry than anything we’ve done before.

In 2014, Beth Banks, our Senior Minister went on a Unitarian Universalist College of Social Justice (UUCSJ) immersion trip to the border of Mexico and the United States. (They have lots of programs for youth and young adults, so check them out!)

At the close of the trip all participants were asked to engage with immigration issues in our home communities. What could the UUCSJ participants do at home to make a difference? There was an opportunity just a short bike ride from the UU Church of Davis. In November of 2014 the first Undocumented Student Center in the country opened at University of California Davis (UC Davis) campus. When she returned from the UUCSJ trip, Beth connected with Andrea Gaytan, the Executive Director of the Center.

Everyone was exploring what programs could be offered by a Center that openly supported undocumented people and their families. In 2014 there were about 260 known undocumented students at UC Davis, and the number increased every year. In 2017, there are approximately 500 people who have identified as either DACA protected or attend school without the benefit of DACA. It took a couple of years for Beth and Andrea to discover how the university and the church could work together to benefit the students.

three SPEAK students modeling their T-shirts on Family Day

In 2016, anti-immigrant rhetoric ramped up in our country. How to live our UU values on campus became clearer. Andrea put Beth in contact with SPEAK, the student campus organization that supports UC Davis undocumented students and their allies. Working with SPEAK put us in direct contact with those who needed support beyond what the Center could offer.

We asked, “How can we best help you?” SPEAK students discussed their needs and asked for scholarship money to fund emergencies for undocumented students who have so little means of support. The funds could help students keep an apartment, pay for medical expenses, purchase books, or pay for tuition.

A small group of church volunteers created a Faithify crowdsourcing campaign, and the students set the goal of $5,000. Our campaign unintentionally provided a bitter-sweet distraction for SPEAK students. The Faithify launch date spanned finals week and the students clicked on the site continuously to watch the number of donations increase. We surpassed the goal and raised over $7,000 and the students wept, because suddenly they had almost three times their normal emergency funds for students in need. They also wept because they read the first names of the donors and realized that there were many people they didn’t know who supported them. It wasn’t just the amount that was raised, but the number of donors that moved the students.

Interest at the church in working with SPEAK increased. Every time someone showed interest we directed them to the UndocuAlly training offered by the Undocumented Student Center that explained the vulnerability of the students and what resources were available to them. There are currently 20 people from the congregation who are trained, with more people waiting for the next session. We consider all of these volunteers a part of our campus ministry outreach.

Every Campus Intern will be trained early in their internship. Working with SPEAK is now as much a part of the internship as serving the students who are exploring their Unitarian Universalist values.

And there’s more. Something amazing happens when we quietly offer ourselves to the SPEAK students. The bridge of trust grows, and the students imagine a new ways for us to help them. Every time we offer some form of assistance, we grow a stronger sense of purpose and what it means to live our Unitarian Universalist values.

We were invited to support their yearly retreat where they share their Odysseys and inspire each other by giving witness to each other’s courage and vision. We deliver hearty snacks to the Center during finals, with notes of encouragement for both the students and the Executive Director. The church offers space for their year-end banquet where they honor those who will graduate. And, yes, we have begun having small gatherings where we meet each other socially. Some students miss their home communities and long for safe connections beyond the campus.

We are not privy to who is an ally and who is undocumented. It is very rare for acquaintances or even friends to be trusted with information that could possibly be shared inappropriately.

The UU Church of Davis still sticks to their campus ministry traditions, like a year end cook-out with the students and ministers

Supporting the UU students’ group continues to be important for us as a congregation, but we’ve discovered that there can be a new dimension in campus ministry. Now we are at UC Davis as learners, allies, and we’re learning to become more effective partners in justice-making.

Just like when we develop any relationship, we don’t know the outcome of our companionship with SPEAK. But as we enter our second year working directly with the students, we have asked again, “What is it that you need?”. They have started to imagine, and give us more ideas.

Now there’s something new. Every time we visit the Undocumented Student Center, the lgbtqia Center is housed in the same building. Yes, our Intern from 2016-2017, Elizabeth Assenza and a member of the Campus Committee, Kyria Boundy-Mills, made an appointment with their Executive Director and asked, “Can we come to know each other and is there a way we can offer support?” And yet another conversation has begun, and our Campus Ministry has become a bridge builder beyond what we imagined.



Rev. Banks is a life-long Unitarian Universalist, originally from Duxbury, Massachusetts. She taught English to political refugees who had relocated to Spokane, Washington. Her work with cultural studies took her to South Korea, where she taught college level English conversation. She served for two years as an Interim Minister for Religious Education at the First Unitarian Church of Rochester. For nine years she was the Parish Minister at the First Universalist Church in Rochester, New York, and served as a campus chaplain at the Eastman School of Music. Rev. Banks has been the Minister at UUCD since August, 2000. 





Reflections after Thrive Young Adult

Posted by Elizabeth Nguyen // July 11th 2017 // no comments

Kaitlin Dey, Thrive Young Adult alumni 2016 and 2017, shared this reflection at her congregation last Sunday:

I spent the last 10 days in New Orleans. I attended Thrive Young Adult. Thrive is part of Grow Racial Justice that is for UU young adults of color, we dove deep into complex questions about identity, power, spirituality and leadership. We got to explore our roles as young adults of color in our UU movement, build relationships with one another around intersecting identities, share practices  for healing and resistance, and support each other on the path toward liberation.

While I was at Thrive, I began dialogues about the beauty and the flaws of our faith. As the week continued and General Assembly began, I met with friends I had made last year and we continued our conversation. Being a young UU person of color who is actively involved can be incredible and taxing just like so many other intersections in life. As I spoke to people who were newly considering topics such as white supremacy, I found that there was a common misconception that white supremacy was alluding to a specific person rather than a culture. An image that I found helpful when explaining this concept, was an iceberg. You see, the tip of the iceberg can be a metaphor for those things that are most visible when talking about white supremacy. For example the KKK and Nazis. Whereas the larger more insidious and dangerous parts remain unseen, this part of the iceberg can be likened to the systems that our country was founded on. The terrifying reality is that every single one of us was brought up in a culture that was originally founded to best serve wealthy, white, cis het white men. Anyone else was an “other” and being “other” meant being wrong. 

Another thing that I kept hearing from my discussions with allies, was about all of the “thinking” that was being done. Thinking about how to help, thinking about what to say, thinking about what NOT to say, thinking about what to do. Let me offer this: Thinking is a privilege, one that I did not get. I do not, nor have I ever, had the option to think about opting in to discussions on race, or think about how I needed to show up for action. My options are to act or stop existing. So I urge you not to let thinking stand in the way of taking action. The final topic that stood out in my mind from GA was a phrase that I heard over and over. People, specifically white allies, were invited to ‘lean into their discomfort’.

I’m sorry to say, but in my opinion, that is not enough. When I was 5 years old and called a heathen because of the half of myself that is Indian, I was not invited gently to lean in that discomfort; at 7 when I was told that my dark skin and thick hair were ugly, there was no urging for me to lean in then; and when I was 16 years old walking down the street with my sister and we were approached by a well dressed man in a business suit who told us to go the F*** back to our country now that our leader Osama had been killed, I was not gingerly eased in to the discomforts of this work. These scenarios may come as a shock to some of you, but frankly these are just a few instances and they are incredibly mild and pale in comparison to the atrocities that our Black siblings face every day. I was just a child when I was thrown into the deep end of white supremacist culture and my options were to swim or get swallowed by the treacherous waters. So I not only urge you, but I implore you to jump into the deep-end and learn to swim with the weight of your discomfort. Like Lilla Watson says, “If you have come here to help me, then you are wasting your time… But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

Until we answer the call of action and unite with our Black and brown siblings, none of us will be free and our faith will not live on for the generations to come. And that is not a future that I want. So please, answer this call, and join us in the work.

Kaitlin Dey is a biracial Unitarian Universalist young adult. Currently attending school and working two jobs; she is a member of Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist church in California, where she serves both as a Worship Associate and as a Member of the Board of Trustees.

Make an Impact: Be Dean of Youth Caucus

Posted by jennicadavishockett // June 15th 2017 // no comments


Youth Caucus Deans are the leaders of the volunteer Youth Caucus Staff for General Assembly and applications are now open through August 10th. Deans work with the Youth Caucus Staff to fulfill the mission and purpose of Youth Caucus, which is to galvanize the youth of our movement by deepening our collective Unitarian Universalist spirituality and helping youth make an impact on our association through General Assembly.

Over the last several months, I have enjoyed my time as Junior Dean. When I first started, I was nervous because I had never experienced leadership on such a large scale, but the idea that I would be working with so many new people in the coming months was exciting. Since August, I have become more confident as a leader and been exposed to countless people and ideas that have enriched my life both in experience and spirit. As we come to the end of this year of planning, with General Assembly 2017 approaching fast, I am now tasked with thinking about what I want in next year’s dean. The purpose of Youth Caucus is to galvanize the youth of our movement, and I encourage you to apply if you want to be a part of it. Hopefully after reading this, you will want to apply to be Junior Dean; I honestly cannot think of another experience like this one.  

As Dean Here’s What You’ll Do…

Travel to Boston for a planning meeting at UUA Headquarters to set the priorities and programming for General Assemblies 2018 (Kansas City, MO) and 2019 (Spokane, WA)…

Select additional staff

Travel to the GA host cities for planning meetings with your staff team…

Facilitate online meetings with youth and adult staff…

Manage your staff team, lead Orientation and workshops at General Assembly…

AND… all of your expenses, including travel, meals, housing and registration at all meetings, for General Assembly 2018 in Kansas City and General Assembly 2019 in Spokane are paid for by the Unitarian Universalist Association.

So you’re considering applying? Good. Do it! You won’t regret it.


What about the “fine print”* This is it…

  • Applicants must be high school students (grades 9-12 or the equivalent for home schooled youth) for both years of their term, i.e.: for the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 school year.
  • Previous attendance at a General Assembly is strongly recommended.
  • Experience with multigenerational leadership teams is highly desired.

Applications are due by 5:00PM (EDT) August 10, 2017

For more information visit uua.org/ycstaff, or contact the Youth Ministry Associate of the UUA Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries at youthcaucus@uua.org.

* Fine print, small print, or “mouseprint” is less noticeable print smaller than the more obvious larger print it accompanies that advertises or otherwise describes or partially describes a commercial product or service.[1] (source)


Start Here

Posted by T. Resnikoff // May 22nd 2017 // no comments

General Assembly 2017 is almost here! We are so excited that you will be joining us for this incredible experience. Whether you attend every GA Youth Caucus event or come to orientation and then spend the rest of the week exploring the wide range of events, worships and workshops available throughout General Assembly, and whether this is your first or fifteenth General Assembly – we welcome you!

You’ll find all of your Youth Caucus User Guide materials right here on Blue Boat in a special section. Each post covers a different topic that you’ll want to take a look at before your arrival in New Orleans. If you’d prefer, you can download a PDF Version of the User Guide.

Get the GA Mobile App to see program listings and maps, and to create your personal GA schedule and get connected with other attendees.

First, a message from your Youth Caucus Deans:

General Assembly Youth Caucus Attendees-

We find ourselves in some difficult times, both in the greater political world, and within our own UUA. Though the theme of our upcoming General Assembly is Resist and Rejoice, now, more than ever, it may feel like only resistance is possible, like rejoice is out of reach. It might feel like we’re further than ever from the diverse, multicultural, inclusive Beloved Community we seek. As your deans of the Youth Caucus, we’re feeling all of these things, too.

However, youth represent one of the most important voices in our Association. The youth are the voices of change, always of the forefront of justice, equity, and revolution. As your deans, we want your Youth Caucus experience to exist without limits; change is in our hands, and sometimes all that’s needed is a little push and the right people.

Our Youth Caucus programming this year will be finely in-tune with the theme of General Assembly. We will Rejoice together in our orientation, our worships, our game nights, and other fun activities, but we will also be putting our noses to the grindstone with important conversations about Resistance.

The Youth Caucus team has worked hard to ensure that everyone has a great time, so we want you all to use every moment to your advantage. We want every YC participant to discover something new, whether it is about yourself, your community, or our host city, NOLA.  

With all that said, we think we speak on behalf of the entire Youth Caucus staff when we say that we’re beyond excited to welcome you to Youth Caucus, General Assembly, and New Orleans. We hope that this year’s Youth Caucus will be extremely impactful for you all, and we look forward to seeing you there.

In faith,

Eric Broner and Jaidyn Bryant

Youth Caucus Deans

Second, here’s some essential information about requirements and location.

Youth Caucus will meet in room 217-219 of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans which is on the second level. All Youth Caucus programming occurs in this room.

Orientation is required for youth and sponsors. Our Youth and Sponsor Orientation is scheduled for 4:00 pm on Wednesday, June 21st and runs until 5:15 pm in the Youth Caucus room. If you arrive at General Assembly after this orientation, there will be daily make-up orientation opportunities at 8:30 am on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Youth and sponsors are required to attend the first orientation that occurs after their arrival. This is the only required Youth Caucus event.

Youth are welcome to attend whatever programming they wish throughout the entirety of General Assembly. See the programming section for schedules and highlights (below).

Finally, here’s what you’ll find on our pages:

  • Meet the GA Youth Caucus Staff: This team of 10 youth and 5 adults have been working hard to bring you awesome programming and to serve you at General Assembly. Get to know them better here.
  • Sponsor Welcome and Responsibilities: Written to sponsors, it is valuable information for youth and parents as well, about sponsor responsibilities, youth-sponsor relationships, and some agreements that youth and sponsors will want to come to before arriving at General Assembly.
  • Programming Highlights: Learn what the Youth Caucus is offering this year, see some highlights from our suggested GA workshop list, and download a blank schedule to plan your GA.
  • Lead at GA: Looking to lead? There are opportunities to get involved in leadership and make an impact on our association through the business of General Assembly.
  • Get Connected: Join our social media networks on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as learn about the opportunities to connect in person throughout General Assembly.
  • Support at GA: Learn more about what our Chaplain team offers.
  • Witness: This year’s witness event is unlike anything we’ve ever done. Learn more about what to expect.
  • Check Lists: What to do before arriving and what to pack! Don’t forget these essentials.

If you have any questions at all about your attendance at General Assembly, contact us at youth@uua.org.

Say Hi to YC Staff

Posted by T. Resnikoff // May 22nd 2017 // no comments

Meet them here virtually, before you meet them for real in NOLA!



Sponsor Info

Posted by T. Resnikoff // May 22nd 2017 // no comments

Feel free to download and print this letter and the Youth Sponsor Parent/Guardian Sample Agreement.

Hello, Adult Sponsors of Youth!

Welcome to General Assembly 2017 – Resist and Rejoice!

We are Sam Wilson, Kathy Smith, and Pam Lepley –Adult Advisors to the Youth Caucus Staff and your Sponsor Coordinators!

Large spiritual communities like Youth Caucus can be powerful, life-changing, and deeply meaningful. These opportunities cannot happen, however, without the help of Sponsors.


Sponsor Role

You, the Sponsor, are responsible for the safety, health, and well-being of the youth you are sponsoring at all times throughout GA. To help prepare, review our Youth Caucus Frequently Asked Questions.

You are on the front line and we are your support team. Join the Youth Caucus 2017 Facebook Group  and RSVP to the General Assembly 2017 Facebook Event where you can ask questions and connect with other sponsors.

Sponsor Coordinators Role

  • We are your primary contacts at Youth Caucus and we support you in your role as Sponsor.
  • We can be reached at (857) 263-3462 at any time during GA. This phone number will be live from June 21st-25th.
  • At least one of us will be at every Youth Caucus-sponsored activity.
  • Contact us if you need us – we’ll contact you if we need you.
  • Along with the Youth Caucus chaplains and UUA staff, we will support your youth if something happens to you.

As Sponsor Coordinators, we will:  be available through the Youth Caucus 2017 Facebook Group in advance of GA; provide an Orientation to Sponsors on Wednesday; support you in upholding the Youth Caucus Covenant created at Orientation and the Youth Caucus Participant Covenant signed prior to GA; welcome you and other adults into the Youth Caucus space and programming; offer reassurance to you in your role as Sponsor; field concerns about youth-related programming; create opportunities for youth and sponsors to connect during GA; and to assist in  re-connecting if you have lost contact with one another. In the event of a youth emergency, we will work with you, the UUA staff, and the appropriate emergency teams to manage the situation.

Traveling with Youth

It is the policy of the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries that youth and their sponsors must stay in the same lodging during General Assembly.  We also strongly encourage sponsors to follow their individual congregation’s Safe Congregations Policy when making travel and housing arrangements.  Sponsors or families seeking further guidance can find helpful suggestions in this Youth in Hotels document from the UUA’s Central East Regional Congregational Life Staff.

Prepare for GA

In order to have the best GA experience possible, you and your youth should get to know each other and develop a plan. Before you come to New Orleans, take some time to talk things through so that your expectations of each other are clear.  Review the GA schedule and Program Book together.  We recommend that youth, sponsors, and parents/guardians create and sign their own written “Agreement” together, which includes expectations for both youth and sponsor roles, responsibilities, and limits. Please refer to our sample agreement at the bottom of the page for some items to discuss in advance, such as curfew, expectations for program attendance, and how often you will check in with one another throughout the day. SEE OUR SAMPLE AGREEMENT (Word, PDF).

The First Day of GA

Attend the mandatory Youth Caucus and Sponsor Orientation on Wednesday from 4:00-5:15!

This is where you will meet us as well as all of the other Youth Caucus leaders.  This is the place to get any last-minute questions answered.  Make-up Youth Caucus and Sponsor Orientations are scheduled for 8:30am on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday for youth and sponsors arriving after Wednesday. Please attend the first orientation available to you after your arrival, as this is where you will receive vital information for having a fun and safe General Assembly experience.

Look around! Help your youth get oriented to the Convention Center and where it is in relation to your hotel.  Review the ground rules and safety information.  Stock up on snacks for you and your youth.  Take a deep breath!  This is going to be an AWESOME WEEK!!!

Safety, Curfew, and the Unique Environment and Opportunities of New Orleans

Familiarize yourself with the laws concerning minors and the age of consent in Louisiana.

Please note that the curfew for youth under 17 years old is very early! In the French Quarter youth must be accompanied by adults after 8pm nightly, everywhere else youth must be accompanied by adults after 9pm on school nights, 11pm on Friday and Saturday nights.

Programming at General Assembly tends to run until 11pm every night.  To meet curfew laws, an adult must accompany youth back to their hotel/lodging after General Assembly programming each night. We highly recommend that adult be the youth’s sponsor, or an adult that the youth and sponsor trust.  New Orleans police strictly enforce the curfew – they will ask for ID and then arrest.  Please note that a disproportionately high number of arrests for curfew violation are youth of color. Even if your youth are 17 or 18 years old (and thus the curfew law does not apply to them), a police officer might not be able to judge their age properly and might stop them anyhow.

New Orleans and the French Quarter

A cultural hub for the south, New Orleans attracts 9 million+ visitors per year.   With its distinctive architecture, variety of shopping opportunities, and iconic restaurants, many of those visitors are drawn to the French Quarter.

Please note that the French Quarter is experienced differently after dark.  One of the attractions to the Quarter is the street party atmosphere and it is common for people to be loud and inebriated. Please know the boundaries of the French Quarter make sure that your youth knows them as well.

Grabbing beignets at Café du Monde at noon then exploring some shops in the Quarter would be a fun activity with your youth. Trying to stroll down Bourbon Street with your youth (regardless of age) after dark – not so much. While in New Orleans, as in any large and busy tourist town, be aware that pickpocketing and petty crime are real.  Take care with your possessions, including credit cards and cash, Pay attention to how you carry your wallet, purse, and backpack.

New Orleans Curfew for Youth under 17 years old

French Quarter:  8pm nightly

New Orleans, other than area known as the French Quarter: 9pm on school nights, 11pm on Friday and Saturday nights

New Orleans Like a Local – Attend a Festival!

June 24-25 – Louisiana Cajun-Zydeco Festival

Two unique styles of music, both birthed in Louisiana are celebrate at this annual festival.  This free event is held from 11am-7pm both Saturday and Sunday at Louis Armstrong Park, 701 N. Rampart Street.  Food vendors, cooking demonstrations, and local craftsman will all be on hand for the celebration so bring some cash just in case if you want to check it out for lunch or dinner.

We look forward to Resisting and Rejoicing with you in New Orleans!

Sincerely, Sam Wilson, Kathy Smith, and Pam Lepley

Meet Your Sponsor Coordinators

*Questions before arriving? Please email youth@uua.org with inquiries about Youth Caucus prior to General Assembly.

Youth, Sponsor and Parent/Guardian  SAMPLE AGREEMENT

General Assembly (GA) 2017– New Orleans, LA

Download this Sample Agreement (Word or PDF)

The Following are *some* examples of important items for Youth, Parent(s)/Guardian(s) And Sponsors to discuss before going to General Assembly.

We agree that before leaving for GA we will discuss our individual and mutual responsibilities, limits and expectations. Some examples of these may include:

  • What is the youth hoping for from participation in GA? What does the parent/guardian hope for?
  • What are the parent/guardian/sponsor’s/youth’s own expectations for youth behavior?
  • What does the parent/guardian expect from the sponsor?  What does the youth expect?
  • How can the parent/guardian best be contacted? What are everyone’s expectations in terms of how often, or under what circumstances, parent(s)/guardian(s) are to be contacted?
  • How will youth and sponsors arrange meals? How much spending money should the youth bring?
  • How will any medications be monitored and or administered?
  • How will sponsors be aware of relevant medical conditions, allergies, or ability to treat youth with over-the-counter medications?
  • What are your agreements around safety? What is your plan in case of any emergency?
  • What are your agreements around self care, including sleeping, eating, etc.?
  • How will you take what you’ve learned back to your home congregation and/or district/region?

The Following are *some* specific examples of agreements that the Youth and their Sponsor may wish to make:

In Terms of Spending Time Together At GA:

We, the Youth and the Sponsor, agree to meet at least ___ times per day while at GA, at a time and place that works for both of us.  Examples of good times/places to do so:

  • We will attend general session, a workshop or worship together.
  • We will share a meal.
  • We will check in at an agreed time/place.  

In Terms of Communicating with Each Other During GA:

We, the Youth and the Sponsor, agree that before leaving for GA we will create a system for communication with each other.  Examples of good systems of communication include the following:

  • We will carry each other’s cell phone number and hotel room number at all times.  
  • The convention center may have limited cell phone reception. We will have a back-up plan in case we can’t reach each other by phone.
  • We will designate a specific Meet Up Spot where we will generally meet up by default, rally as a group, go back to if we lose each other, etc.
  • We will share our expected schedules so we can find each other in an emergency.  

In Terms of Individual Responsibilities at GA:

    • We, the Youth and the Sponsor, agree to attend the mandatory Wednesday afternoon Orientation or the first available Orientation for arrival after Wednesday’s meeting..
    • Sponsor: I understand the Adult Sponsor Code of Ethics and I pledge to follow it.  I also understand and agree to the expectation that adult sponsors will not drink alcohol or take inebriating or illegal drugs while at GA.
    • Youth:  I agree to attend at least ___ events (workshops, Youth Caucus-sponsored events, General Sessions, and/or worship services) while at GA.
    • Youth:  I agree to the rules as outlined in the “Participant Policy and Covenant,” and will obey all state and local laws, as well as the laws of the hotel or residence where we are staying. I will also abide by the policy on sexuality and community.
    • Youth:  I agree to the curfews set by my sponsor.  I understand that while at GA I am the responsibility of my sponsor.  Please note the New Orleans city curfew for unaccompanied youth:

Children 16 or younger who are not accompanied by a parent or guardian must be home by 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday in the summer. On Friday and Saturday, they need to be home by 11 p.m. – unless they are in the French Quarter or a section of Faubourg Marigny that includes Frenchmen Street. Curfew in the French Quarter is 8pm nightly.

Youth, Sponsor and Parent(s)/Guardian(s):  We understand that this agreement is created between us to ensure comfort and safety for youth, sponsors and parents/guardians.  We further understand that if the youth violates any GA rules, parents/guardians will be notified and the youth will be sent home at the expense of the parent/guardian.

_____________________            ____________________             __________________

Youth Signature                               Parent Signature                              Sponsor Signature

Please Note:  

This is a *sample* agreement between youth, sponsors, and parents.

Look it over.  Modify it.  Make it your own.  

Create your own agreement between yourselves!

Agreements between youth, sponsors and parents/guardians should be built on mutual respect and understanding.  Everyone benefits when youth, sponsors and parents/guardians all agree in advance about what they expect from each other.

You may want to print your own modified version of this document and formally sign it in each other’s presence to help you remember the covenant you have made with each other.