Since joining UUCF as the Young Adult Community Leader, I have routinely found myself returning to the words of visionary author and facilitator adrienne maree brown. Her work “Emergent Strategy” has been both a supportive guide and invitational challenge for me in the work of young adult ministry. The vision she casts throughout the text is both timeless and ever present – much like that of the Church. At the core of any church is a community that proclaims deeply cherished eternal truths while simultaneously doing the rigorous work of re-imaging and re-applying those truths in the here and now.
At a time when the conventional streams for building and being in community have begun to deteriorate, part of our task as Unitarian Universalists is to move beyond the comfortable confines of the places we occupy and to live out the good news of our faith in the greater society. One way UUCF has taken on this challenge is in the form of the innovation grant, which seeks to support the spiritual and communal needs of young adults in our corner of the world. The journey over the last year has been no easy task. And yet, in these last 11 months, something wonderful has been conjured: SPARK.
SPARK is the manifestation of the late Stan Richards’ generosity, the combined proposal of Betsy Bicknell and Wendy Astell, and the imagination and effort of a number of young adults from within UUCF and beyond. SPARK brings together folx ages 18-35(ish) to co-create community, make meaning and do justice all while being rooted in the spiritual values of Unitarian Universalism. As a collective we support one another as we honor the sacred, create accountable spaces, build collective liberation and work from our edges. We engage in this holy effort by gathering with one another for Dinner Church and the Creative Arts Circle, in pubs and along hiking trails, and in supporting the mission of Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism (BLUU) and in cleaning local creeks beds.
Much like the early – dare I say – original church, SPARK doesn’t gather in one particular space that we call our own. We convene in members’ homes and in other locations that can hold a growing community. SPARK has forgone purchasing or renting a location not only to use our abundant resources in other more sustainable ways, but to instead place our collective energy on that which feels most imperative right now – building a resilient spiritual community of and for young adults.
This work takes intention. This work takes love. This work takes humility. In all of this we know, as adrienne has taught us: “What we pay attention to grows.”
And my, oh my, how it is growing.