Do lifelong UU identifying young folk feel connected to UUism?

I thick before I go any further I should disclose that I was raised in UU community. So here goes. This is what I have to say. And I mean no offence by it.

I feel to often UUs (individuals and their communities (churches, fellowships and societies)) go out of their way to make newcomers feel welcome. This is done throw providing things like special green mugs during the Sunday fellowship hour and courses such as “Introduction to UUism”; intended to give them some further knowledge on their new spiritual community and the history of the religion it’s a member of (UU). This is all fine and well but sometimes it feels to me that this is all done at the expense of the needs of the ones who grew up in UU communities. Well maybe this is only do to the fact that most of those that are active in UU communities came as adults having either grown up in another religious tradition or a lack of one, that this mite be going on. I mean maybe the adults are thinking on an unconscious level that you can’t expect to find the spiritual fulfilment that is right for you in the places you grew up in, you see we didn’t.

So I am not suggesting we as UUs stop trying to welcome new people and our attempts to help them feel welcome in our midst. But I do think this will never help UU communities to grow which, I always hear is a big goal for UU communities and the wider UU movement. Well I mean that they will never grow unless we try and respond to the needs and honour the religious/spiritual discovers made by those of us UUs who went throw UU religious exploration classes and YRUU. Just tack a look at the current results of this poll being don on FUUSE the online community for UU and Unitarian youth and young adults. It should be noted that most of the members of FUUSE either have gone throw the YRUU experience and or a young adult one modelled after the YRUU one. So what is this poll saying? Well, it asks the question “Do you feel yourself connected to Unitarian Universalism?” and these are the options and the results (as of 10:45 pm EST).

“Yes, better than ever 34 (28.10%)
Sometimes 25 (20.66%)
I used to, but not so much anymore 37 (30.58%)
Nope 16 (13.22%)
No, I never identified as a UU 0 (0.00%)
No, I’m in the process of finding a new faith community 9
(7.44%)”

So as you can see out of the 121 respondents 62 (51.24%) a little over half of them are struggling with their connections to UUism or have decided it’s better to go look for a new religious/spiritual community and another 25 (20.66%) only feel connected to UUism sometimes. And 34 (28.10%) said “Yes, better than ever”. So what does this all tell us abut the way UU treats its young long time members? Well if the results of this poll are representative of UU identifying young folk (and I think it is) then I feel UUism and its communities thy have a major problem which needs urgent addressing if UUism is to stay vibrant and flourish for a long time to come.

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4 responses to “Do lifelong UU identifying young folk feel connected to UUism?

  1. I think you make a valid point. I was raised a UU and am now 34, with two elementary-aged kids of my own. In my teen years, I was not much involved, because we lived overseas. I didn’t return to church until I had my children, because I want them raised with the religious values I grew up with. What happened in those in-between years??

    I see a lot of focus on young RE, on newcomers to the faith, and on social justice in almost every congregation. (Of course, with varying degrees of emphasis, depending on the people within the congregation.) I don’t know how many – if any! – congregations really go out of their way to help young UU’s (teens and young adults) make the transition from their RE years to college to being adult UU’s.

    It’s a subject worth exploring!

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  2. Didn’t there used to be Channing Societies on campuses?

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  3. Thanks aimeewrites I couldn’t agree more with you. And Bill Baar their might have been Channing Societies on university and college campuses, but as fare as I know there aren’t any today. Though some, do have student groups.

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  4. Devin, Thank you for writing this post. It is important for us to look deeper than the surface on what we have to offer. Regarding campus ministries, there use to be many UUcampus ministries but were abandoned by the denomination and by many congregations about 20 plus years ago. Shame really. I am hoping I can get my congregation to invest in having one at the local campus here. It’s important for the health of the whole faith.

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