Earlier this month, from Friday, April 12th to Sunday, April 14th young adult leaders from across the country gathered at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock in Manhasset, NY for a leadership conference. Many were from the greater Metro NY area, with some traveling from Pennsylvania, and one participant from each Maine and Washington State! We came together for a weekend in learning community, knowing that our connections with one another provide support and catalyze our own growth. Participants reflect:
“It was great to connect with other young adults from around the country. It’s easy to forget as a young adult away from my home church that there’s this whole community out there just waiting to be a part of.” – Leader at Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock
“It was great to be around people who are so caring. I left the conference with plans to cultivate this same caring spirit in the Young Adults group at my congregation.” -Leader at All Souls, NYC
We gathered in workshops, worship circles, fellowship time, and over meals together. Betty Jeanne Rueters-Ward, Youth and Young Adult Program Coordinator at Shelter Rock led a workshop on leadership, where we defined leadership and shared our struggles and strengths. Betty Jeanne and Sara Angell-Isom, Youth and Young Adult Ministries Consultant for the Metro NY District of the UUA co-led an anti-racism/anti-oppression/multiculturalism training, including personal reflection and sharing with techniques and activities to take home. This was paired with preparation to lead Building the World We Dream About for Young Adults, a free online curriculum on multiculturalism. Craig Rubano, Youth and Young Adult Programs Coordinator for the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton and I (Kayla Parker, Campus Ministry Associate for the UUA) provided training for Spirit in Practice, a free online curriculum focused on spiritual practice exploration. This included reflection for leaders on their own spiritual practices, and leading others in a portion of the curriculum and receiving feedback.
It was a great weekend, but you can hear it now from the participants themselves:
“I learned that we all face a lot of the same leadership challenges, whether we are just starting out or have already been fighting the good fight for awhile. Sometimes you can feel really alone in your troubles as a leader, so most of all it was great to be reminded that there are many folks sharing similar struggles.” –Leader from Maine
“Not only did the incredibly talented facilitators give us tools that have empowered us to become active leaders in our own communities, but they also fostered a safe space for us to share personal experiences that shaped who we are. I cannot wait for the next metro new york district young adult conference!” – Leader at First Unitarian Society Brooklyn, NY
“I leaned many important skills, and behaviors of a leader…I was able to focus on how I can improve my leadership skills in various situations. The most important lesson I took away was that I, as a leader/coordinator, shouldn’t pile too much on my plate and learn to delegate.” -Leader at Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock
“At the LDC at Shelter Rock I was able to see how profoundly rooted my leadership skills are in my Unitarian Universalist values, both within a church community, and in other spheres of my life.” –Leader at First Unitarian Society Brooklyn, NY
“One of the most important things I took away from this conference was a refreshing reminder of the various ways in which leadership manifests itself in my day-to-day life, as well as in my UU campus groups. I came to this conference anxious about the future of my group, but I left feeling hopeful, revitalized and more serene than when I first walked through the doors.” -Campus Ministry Leader in Pittsburgh, PA
“As a new UU Young Adult leader, and as a new UU in the first place, I thoroughly enjoyed the Metro NY District YA Conference. There was so much at the conference I hadn’t yet been exposed to, and it reaffirmed my belief that Unitarian Universalism has a lot to offer. It’s inspired me to reach out to my local UU community even more, making me more passionate both about expanding our Young Adult programming and getting more Young Adults into leadership roles. This conference has put me and my congregation in better shape to grow and have an even greater postive impact on the entire community of Philadelphia!” -Leader at First Unitarian Church in Philadelphia
Read participants’ thank you blog post to Shelter Rock for hosting this conference!
The conference was offered by the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries Office and Metropolitan New York District of the Unitarian Universalist Association. Interested in having a similar conference in your area? Contact your district and the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries (youngadults @ uua.org)!