Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Young Adult Ministry

Young Adults and Campus Ministry on my mind…

Where are your Bridgers? Where are they going? Please either alert the church in their new town that they are coming or alert me and I’ll make the connection. Please encourage youth and young adults to register on and keep their contact information current. You may find young adults in your area through this continent-wide database.

If you receive an alert that a young adult has moved to your area, please contact then to welcome them and see how your community can help with the transition (rides to church, invitation to church events, connection to other young adults in your area, a mentor family…)

Homecoming Events – it’s not too early to get a Thanksgiving Weekend homecoming event on your church calendar and start spreading the word. Planning a Welcome Home social event is a great way to let your “grown up youth” know that you’re still interested in their grand life adventures. Perhaps a “where are they now?” bulletin board for Thanksgiving Sunday so the entire congregation can enjoy and support their news.

On a personal note…

I was a college student in the late 80s in Bowling Green, Ohio. I was part of a group of students that strongly believed that it would be a religion that saved the world. One based on the support of our individual spiritual journeys and demanded that we put our faith into action to make the world a better place. We wrestled with how a religion could guide our burning young adult questions: Who am I in the Universe? How can I truly know right from wrong? What is the purpose of life? (Are you nodding your head as you remember your own young adult experience?)

A professor kindly put her arm around me and told me she’d pick me up for church on Sunday. She took me to a little church that met in the town hall with awful acoustics and uncomfortable aluminum chairs. I didn’t quite connect with the congregation of perceived “gray-hairs” (insert chuckle here, as my hair is now graying) but I fell in love with their religion. For once I didn’t feel alone! We didn’t need to invent this new religion! It was already here!

I didn’t go to the Maumee Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation every Sunday. Sometimes a college student just needs to sleep in. And a ride to church was necessary, but I didn’t want to bug my professor every time (what I wouldn’t have given for an organized pick up! Hint-hint…) I felt bad about not having much money, but no one ever asked me pledge or sign a book or get involved… and you know, I would have. I probably would have done just about anything for that little church (hint-hint.)

They truly won me over when during finals week I received a care package from them. It wasn’t anything elaborate. Probably something like microwave popcorn, m&ms, the comics’ page from the newspaper, some Unitarian Universalist inspiration quotes, and a handwritten anonymous note from someone at the church telling me that they were thinking of me during finals. Blew me away!

Well, both the Maumee Valley UUC and I have grown up and moved on. They have over 100 members and their own building now. I moved to Tacoma after graduation and went searching for a Unitarian Universalist Church before I even went looking for an apartment. And the rest is history…

There are young adults in need of your community. If you have a college or university within the reach of your congregation, you have an excellent starting place. If you would like guidance as to how to reach out, here are some good starting resources:

10 Easy Things You and Your Congregation Can Do To Support Campus Ministry

Rev. Cynthia L. G. Kane, USN

April 2001 (when she was the Director of CampUUs for the Joseph Priestly District)

1. Send names and contact information of graduating high school and current college students to the UUA Young Adult/Campus Ministry Office.

2. Contact the Minister of the local congregation where college students from your congregation are attending. And/or contact the Chaplain or Dean at the local college/university, and provide them with information about your congregation and Unitarian Universalism.

3. List in the congregational directory of members and friends the names and contact information of the students at the local college/university and the college students from your congregation.

4. Send the congregational newsletter to the students at the local college/university and the college students from your congregation.

5. At the beginning of each semester (September and January), create HUUGS (Hearty Unitarian Universalist Greetings) baskets for the students at the local college/university and the college students from your congregation.

6. Host Campus Ministry Sunday (odd years, the 1st Sunday after Columbus/Discoverer's Day).

7. At mid-term and final exam times (October, December, March, and May), send care packages to college students. If in a campus-congregation partnership, host an off-campus “chill-out” event or a special vespers service of silence, reflection, and meditation.

8. During the winter holidays (e.g., Christmas Eve service) and other times when college students are away from school and returning home (May-August), make a special welcome back to them during the Sunday worship service. Also at these times, host a special reunion event for returning students . . . perhaps in partnership with the youth group . . . or with another nearby congregation.

9. Throughout the year, drop an occasional card or email to the students at the local college/university and the college students from your congregation . . . just to say hello, they are remembered, their absence is felt, and to let you know you are thinking about them and wishing them well.

10. As a graduating gift for high school seniors, give them a membership to the Church of the Larger Fellowship and subscription to the World magazine.

Still have questions or a suggestion? Give me a call: 253-572-7693. Or email me:

In faith, Tandi

Juneau Observations

1. Juneau has ravens like the Lower 48 has crows. The ravens run down-town Juneau. They are huge and opinionated. I was walking down the street wondering what would have happened to Christianity had Jesus not lived and taught in Persia, but rather Alaska. As I was pondering this, an audacious raven came down and gave me a sermon-full of her take. She was both hilarious and prophetic.

2. Of all the computers I have borrowed here each and every one of them use the weather page as their internet start-up page.

3. If you face the mountains, and you can still your mind long enough to breath through your eyes, the mountain goats come into focus. They dot the mountainside, but remain invisible to the busy, searching mind.

4. Residents of Juneau refer to the Mendanhall Glacier as “our glacier.”

5. They also refer to Governor Palin as “our Sarah,” but for different reasons and with different inflections and facial expressions.

6. If you want to quiet a dinner party, look out the window and ask in what part of Juneau Governor Palin lives. (She lives in Wasilla and is trying to move the state capitol out of Juneau.)

7. Of all the homes I have been invited that are built on a hill, the mail living quarters are the top story with bedrooms below.

8. Of all the homes I have been invited there is a big tray inside the front door for snow boots. And often baskets of big fluffy socks and slippers to don while you visit.

9. Cramp-ons fit running shoes. I saw them.

10. This is the first time in a long time that I have full lung capacity. The air is so clean and oxygenated. My mind is calm and clear.

11. The Silverbow Bagel coffee-shop serves bagels and Alaskan lox. New York has nothing on this lox!

12. I have developed a swagger in my big snow boots. Fortunately as my attitude gets intolerable, the ice humbles me and forces me to stop swaggering.

Three words to describe Juneau Unitarian Universalists: scrappy, interdependent, (radically) authentic


Falling Man, Connected Man

My host Bev Haywood and I were coming home from the JUUF book club. Just as we were pulling in to her garage, a man walking his dog twisted and fell on the ice. I jumped out of the car to assist. A neighbor also saw and quickly brought out a cushion to get him off the ice while we assessed the situation.

The three of us managed to gingerly get him into our car along with his dog, Earl, the sweet, black lab. Earl is dropped off at Pete’s house and his wallet is picked up. Off we go to the Emergency Room. On the way, Pete shares that he is part of the Unitarian Universalist fellowship in Anchorage. What are the odds?

Bev stays with him the whole time. Broken leg just above the ankle. Tucks him in at home. In the morning we go into UU mode and tend to his needs. That’s what Unitarian Universalists do. He’s in good hands.

Advisors on the Bus

I enjoy the ease of public transportation. And the education.

“You aren’t from Juneau, are you? I don’t recognize you.”

“No, I’m in town to do some work with the Unitarian Universalist church.”

He goes off on a tirade about how churches should pay taxes and earn their keep, because they do anything for the people. I respond that I didn’t know about the Juneau UU church, but that the Anchorage church voluntarily pays their taxes. He looks surprised and continues to assess me.

“If you were King of the Universe, what would you have the churches do?” And I reach in my bag for a pen and paper.

The rest of the trip is filled with fantastic suggestions. Riders around us get off the bus and new people get on and join the conversation.

  • Free legal advocacy
  • Mail-boxes for homeless folks
  • Adult foster care
  • Larger shelter
  • Free counseling for homeless men
  • Mentors for people newly homeless
  • Classes for newly homeless on how to be homeless
  • Micro-lending for newly jobless
  • Budgeting classes
  • Parenting classes so people don’t lose their kids to foster care
  • Parenting classes for teen parents
  • Parenting classes for grandparents raising their grandkids
  • Transportation for elders going to medical appointments
  • Programs to understand new law changes
  • More buses during tourist season, because they take over the buses
  • Family services
  • Affordable drug and alcohol rehabilitation
  • More severe punishment for hate crimes
  • Training for police about cultural differences
  • Training for churches to welcome ex-offenders

When it is my stop I offer my card and extend my hand. “Thank you for this most valuable information. I will see that the churches get this. I’ll see what I can do to work on these programs. I’d love to see you at church on Sunday. 11:00. 5th and Main.”

He didn’t come to church. And I wondered if he would be welcome. If he would feel comfortable. We’ve got work to do. I’ve got more busses to ride.