Dear Chicago-area UU Fam,
It is with great gratitude that I announce after nearly 5 years I am stepping down from my role with Chicago Chalice Connection (CCC). The community is a period of transition, as am I – I won’t be a young adult much longer. It is important to me that I leave you with an understanding of where CCC and young adult ministry is at this moment and what our opportunities moving forward will be.
CCC’s greatest strength has always been facilitating young adult participation in local justice movements. From protests against racist police violence to celebrations of our radical queerness we collectively imagined the world we want to live in based on our shared UU values. We learned, we grieved, we grew. A few times we even got to celebrate victories, like reparations for survivors of Chicago police torture. These times with you have been some of the most memorable and loving in my spiritual life thus far.
Last year, our board assessed the health of their local young adult groups and found that most are finding success with worship, creating supportive community, and connecting with their larger congregations. The more challenging piece has been investing in meaningful, long-term social justice work. Though CCC has been supporting local justice movements for years we yearn to be more strategic and effective. In a moment of growing fascism and white supremacy in our country, and ongoing austerity cuts locally, we know that progressive faith communities have a pivotal role to play in turning the tide and we need to double-down in our commitment.
At the same time, we’ve been in conversation with high-school aged youth and youth advisors who were struggling with similar things in their congregational youth groups. And so, 6 months ago, we invited them to join us along with some local UU staff and ministers to launch the Youth and Young Adult Visioning Team. Currently, the Visioning Team in the midst of a listening campaign to better understand what young UUs want and need to engage in social action and grow their leadership skills. Over the next few months this team will review feedback from the listening sessions and craft a proposal of what a dynamic and meaningful UU youth and young adult social justice leadership development program could look like. We recently hired two incredible part-time staff to lead us through the summer and I have the utmost confidence in them and the rest of the team.
It has been a great privilege to work with young adults and others in our faith community to create space for young adults to learn, grow, and live our values more fully into the world. Thank you to everyone who invested in this community, in our vision, our efforts, and in our leadership. Whether it was your time, money, or connections to people and resources, we couldn’t have done it without you. Most of all I need to thank my peers, the young adults around the city who devoted their passion, brilliance, imagination, and time to nurture the CCC community. I will carry the lessons you taught me and the love we built together with me forever. Thank you for entrusting me with this responsibility and for being such stellar collaborators. Though I am stepping down from this post I will remain in Chicago, continuing my work with the UU Prison Ministry of Illinois and supporting this Visioning Team as a volunteer. I look forward to collaborating with you more soon.
Hello Chicago-area UUs!
We are to the two new staffers at the YaYA Visioning Team for the summer! We’d love to get to know you, but first, you should know a little bit about us.
My name is Elise Miedlar and I am going to be a junior at Oak Park River Forest High School. I have been a UU since I was dedicated as a baby. Growing up in a UU congregation has given me the freedom to explore my interests and my beliefs in a way that many other people miss out on as kids. Using the seven principles as a guide gives us motivation to change our world for the better, especially in terms of social justice. That’s why I joined the YaYA Visioning Team.
My name is Clare Roarty. I go to Unity Temple for Church and I am going to be a senior at Oak Park and River Forest High School. I have been a UU my whole life and feel that we have an obligation to try and do right in the situation our country is in today. I found one opportunity to do so in the Youth and Young Adult Visioning Team.
The YaYA Visioning Team is moving into the future to create meaningful programs for youth and young adults. So often, youth and young adults don’t have the opportunity to work together. This is such an exciting venture because they have many differences in perspective and experience, which when brought together could create interesting ideas and a great energy. Many in our congregations have done extraordinary work promoting social justice, but it is necessary to pass the baton to a new generation. We want to see further involvement in our churches and communities, specifically making social justice a continuous part of youth and young adult groups. We aim to teach leadership skills and the legacy of social justice in order to make our community and world a better place. We invite you to join the Visioning Team with your ideas about youth and young adult cooperation for the larger whole. Thank you for your interest!
You can contact firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com with further questions or comments. If you are interested in joining the Visioning Team, please fill out the brief survey in the link below. Everyone is encouraged to apply, including youth, young adults, and youth advisors. APPLY HERE!
We look forward to working with you!
Elise Miedlar and Clare Roarty