Saturday, June 25, 2011


Once upon a time I blogged every day at GA.

Man, that was a long time ago!

Yesterday was a good day. A fabulous day! I mean, what a great day.

I learned a whole lot, I met up with friends and colleagues and people who live in my heart but who I almost never get to actually wrap my arms around. And I got to debrief the day with my brilliant and insightful son when the day was over.

Here are my fractured-brain reflections:

God is a verb. Uh huh.

Dr. Mark Hicks is a brilliant and gifted leader and we have a whole hell of a lot of work to do to make our Religious Education ministries "expect" to minister to children of color in our classrooms. He even mentioned the unique needs of trans-racially adopted children. He didn't specifically speak about children who come from "Loving" families--mixed race kids, but still, good stuff.

Then the New Epiphany Revival. Sometimes what you really need to do is to sing out loud and to hold hands with those people who you are actually getting to see finally and to cry a little. That's good stuff. And it almost made me have a little hope and faith again after a year that made me so tired that sometimes I just wanted to curl up on the floor and rest. Just for a minute, you know. But this was hope. And faith. Good. Stuff.

And then there was the Synergy Worship (and how BRILLIANT was it to have the Nick Page concert roll directly into Synergy--SO good so good so good. Thousands of people stayed)

Ok, and who knew that Nita Penfold is married to Nick Page? Really? Spirit Play and music? Way to go changing the world in THAT household! Amazing.

The Synergy worship was fabulous. Watching our youth bridge to young adulthood was deeply moving. Hearing Bill Sinkford and Lee Barker speak about their experience as UU youth and Liberal Religious Youth--also fabulous.

But the most amazing thing I heard last night was from Betty Jeanne Reuters-Ward. And it was not completely comfortable to hear. She spoke of broken promises to youth--and how painful it was for the young adults who treasured YRUU that it's gone. And that we don't really have a continental structure for youth any longer. I know, because my son's been smack dab in the middle of the whole process, that the goals and hopes and dreams for youth are good and very well intentioned. I know that there is a hope and dream that our youth will have their spiritual needs met in their own congregations and districts. I understand. I   am a "boots on the ground" religious educator trying and trying to make youth ministry vibrant and vital in my own congregation.

And the truth is that there are no easy answers, and that there is a huge amount of work ahead to find the right and good answers about serving our youth well. And the only way to really get there is to speak the truth. Even if it's uncomfortable. And even if it's right in front of Bill Sinkford.

Amen. Amenamenamen!


UUKatie said...

Lovely writing my friend. I so miss you and being at GA! I am at home in sunny Tampa Florida today, working. In between printing out Faith in Action projects, creating a list of potential volunteers, & wondering why my two boys have been so quiet in their room for the past hour, I am reading tweets, fb updates, and blogs from the front lines of GA. It was so great to just read yours! Have fun my Love! Sing so so so loud for me, k? (Agh! Now I am crying just thinking about the chillbumpy joyfulness that is singing at GA. Wow.) Smooches! Katie

Betty Jeanne said...

Thanks so much for your kind words - a friend let me know of your comments. It was an honor to be in such good company last night, and I. I want to say that I deeply value my relationship with Bill and his leadership in UU youth ministry/movements over the last 50 years - we have both been in complicated political roles, and he has never shied away from doing what he thought was best for it. I'm grateful to now get to work with him as a guest presenter in my youth ministry course as Starr King; he's been very generous with his historical perspective and we are lucky for it.

Have a wonderful rest of GA!

Betty Jeanne Rueters-Ward

Kari said...

Thank you so much, Betty Jeanne. I do not come to General Assembly hoping that everyone will just say the easy things, so it was deeply affirming to me that you spoke so eloquently about YRUU and our current situation in youth ministry. And it's deeply affirming to me that you are still here. The end of LRY happened when I was a teen. I hear you!

Thank you for your good work for our faith, and I am glad that you are still here.

Betty Jeanne said...

Thank YOU for your clear and committed role supporting youth, it gives me so much hope.