Tuesday, February 12, 2008


This is a placeholder post, a stop-gap for my intended Youth Rights post and a needed statement concerning the death of formal YRUU. I'll have more fleshed out opinions on both, which won't be as timely as I'd like, and this will have to be kept short, as school demands insist.

Back to the point, and an explanation - YRUU is "Young Religious Unitarian Universalists", the organization that coordinated (at continental, district, and congregational levels) youth organization with the Unitarian Universalist Association. Yesterday I was informed by a summer camp acquaintance that YRUU will cease to exist and function as it had, primarily because the UUA has withdrawn funding for the continental level. There's a lot to be said about this, and I encourage all those who want to join the discussion to comment here.

As for my say, YRUU was one of those key organizations in both my political coming of age and my coming of age in general, and while I will certainly agree that it had flaws, I think that the good it did, that the unique experience it provided, and that the leadership it helped develop are key to the UU experience, for those who do not find this faith in their 30s church-shopping. Its demise was predictable, and the very nature of an organization whose members may serve for only a year or two (if lucky, 3, and theoretically 4 was possible) means that change will be fast, change will be sweeping, and independence will be easy to lose and move away from. In four years, YRUU will be a distant notion to those who, had they been 4 years older, would have provided the most dynamic leaders.

It's rough, and I can see this as a tremendous alienation of UU-raised young adults for years to come (an alienation that furthers an already-present division in UU Young Adults), and i think it hurts the sustainability and the validity of the church. I've more to say, much much more to say, but for now I will leave this with a question:

What does a future youth organization need to be to validate youth as they are youth, honor youth empowerment, provide for institutional memory and independence, and facilitate a meaningful transition into active young adult status for the many UUs who come from such a strong tradition?

This, I think, is the fundamental YRUU question, and is a key component of the fundamental Young Adult question. Any thoughts?


Mega said...

This came as quite a surprise to me, as I too have pressing school demands. I have been looking into what exactly happened but the more I look, the less clear it becomes. I look forward to reading your take on this. I hope we can both continue doing the good work of promoting youth empowerment, and paving a way for easy transition into young-adulthood.
So far the whole thing leaves me sitting here in class, with a knot in my stomach and a lump in my throat.

Scott said...

As someone who was at the Common Ground II where YRUU was born and had some history in LRY - I can only say that UUs do not learn from their own history. The miracle of YRUU was that, although there were many disenfranchised youth and young adults alienated by the UUA in the process, we lost a lot fewer than expected because of the cards on the table, methodical, and wide grass-roots support for the Common Ground process.

I have held my breath since the separation of the CUC and UUA -- waiting for the UUA to breach their conditional promise of that separation to support continental YRUU. So much for UUA promises.

The laughable thing is that if the "adults" were doing such a bang up job with the UUA, I'm convinced that this whole thing would be moot.