One of the things I miss most about being at UUCF in person is simply seeing people, and in particular, seeing the young people in our congregation. As a sometimes Religious Exploration teacher and a parent who hangs out at the playground after services (and as someone who grew up in a Unitarian Universalist congregation), I love watching the children and youth running around, building their own communities with one another, feeling at home at UUCF.
I am deeply grateful to the UUCF RE staff, committee and teachers for keeping activities for children and youth going during this pandemic time. My children are enjoying their RE classes and I trust what they are doing through Zoom will help maintain the connections they have with their peers. There are many other opportunities as well – family hymn sing night, games nights, book groups and so on.
It is inevitable that, because of the restrictions of this time, we tend to gather in more age-segregated groups, without the casual interactions we are able to have in person. I suspect that, with the rate that children grow and change, we might not even recognize many of those we had been used to seeing almost weekly. Given that, I am ever so grateful for the cross-generational contacts we’ve been able to sustain. For me, that includes working with three fantastic youth – Sam Curry, Aly Kentner-Leary and Gabriel Crutchfield – on the Worship Committee. Their contributions and presence in both the meetings and as Worship Associates have been a real gift to our congregation.
On Mar. 7, the high school youth will be leading our Sunday worship service. Though we may not be seeing each other in person on Sunday mornings, though so much of what we are thinking and feeling and learning is happening out of sight of one another, Mar. 7 will give us a great opportunity to see again the youth of our community, perhaps to hear something of how this time has been for them, and to be reminded of how important the bonds of our community are.
I hope that we all are able to support the youth by showing up as they put together worship for our entire community. As well, I hope we look for ways to strengthen our cross-generational connections as best we can, even during this challenging time. And we’ll be sure to have lots of nametags handy when we’re finally back in the building together again!
A FOOTNOTE from Youth Ministry Coordinator Courtney Firth: I am so appreciative of Rebecca Benner for bringing your attention to the Youth Service. While I can continuously sing our youth’s praises on creativity, kindness and how they see the world, it is nice to know that I am one among many who are happy to do the same. Rebecca is right, the Youth Service on Mar. 7 will be wonderful. Not only have the youth taken on the challenge of meeting online, they are creating an online worship experience without any experience doing so. They will be sharing their thoughts on what commitment means during a pandemic and how it has challenged relationships, motivation, society and more. It will indeed bring a new light to how a multi-age congregation deals with these challenging times in different ways.