Feb. 5, 2018.

By UUCF Innovation Fund grant co-recipient Betsy Bicknell.

In a generous bequest, the late Stan Richards provided seed financing for innovative projects that expand UUCF’s outreach to those not now engaged in our congregation and/or Unitarian Universalism. Wendy Astell and I responded to this challenge, and in March 2017, the UUCF Board of Directors approved our proposal for a UUCF-sponsored off-campus community targeted to young adults (20s and 30s). The mission of this project is to help Northern Virginia young adults explore and live UU values and principles. Our vision is to provide activities and services for young adults who are looking for a spiritual home outside of a traditional church setting. The group and its leader will help Northern Virginia’s young adults grow as individuals and as a community through spiritual practices, arts, service, play, rites of passage and caring for one another and the greater community. We hope these activities will help young adults deepen their appreciation of the gifts of life and love.

Since March, Wendy and l recruited Jeanette Walton, Victoria Maldonado, Rita Roth and Jennifer McLaughlin to form an advisory committee to help move the project forward. The committee contacted people serving UU community ministries and the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Young Adult leaders to learn about their projects and to explore ideas on how to proceed. These contacts taught us that the first step for the project is to hire a dynamic professional leader who can reach out to Northern Virginia young adults to understand their needs. This leader will develop a network of interested young adults and will hold programs to start to build community. The programs will be held in spaces accessible by public transportation as well as by car. As community forms, a key next step will be formal training to help participants understand commitment to a covenanted community and develop leadership skills.

The advisory committee has developed a job description (to be posted soon at uucf.org/jobs) for a Young Adult Community Leader with experience working with diverse groups of people and who authentically upholds Unitarian Universalist values. We want a candidate with pastoral care or social work training/experience and who has experience in community organizing or social justice work. On Jan. 17, the Coordinating Team gave us the go-ahead to begin recruiting a part-time professional who will report to Rev. David Miller. We are in the process of launching a nationwide search. Please contact me or Wendy Astell for more information.