ICUU Young Adult Program
By Melody Moberg, UUC’s Director of Religious Education
I was privileged to facilitate the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists (ICUU) Young Adult Program at the biennial ICUU conference and council meeting in the Netherlands this July. Over the past year I worked with Rev. Sara Ascher, the incoming Executive Director of the ICUU, to plan the young adult program. The ICUU is a council group made up of Unitarian, Unitarian Universalist, and liberal religious groups from all over the world—it is essentially a group of groups, and its work seeks to deepen the connections of the global U*U community.
I became aware of the ICUU conference through my work on the Unitarian Universalist Partner Church Council (UUPCC) Board of Directors, where I currently chair the initiative to engage youth and young adults with partnership. The UUPCC is a North American organization which helps congregations in the United States and Canada partner with Unitarian churches all over the world. The UUPCC raised funding to help young adult participants (ages 21–35) attend the five-day ICUU conference. We had twenty young adults at the conference, from Transylvania, Romania, Kenya, the Philippines, the Khasi Hills of India, Germany, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, and the United States!
With 140 people total at the conference, it was easy to create a sense of community, and to learn about the diversity of our shared faith. The conference included workshops, worships, lectures, small group ministry, and business meetings to reimagine the mission and purpose of the organization for the next twenty years. Much of the content revolved around finding a spiritual response to climate change.
The young adults participated in some separate sessions, but were predominately there to participate in and contribute to the work of the conference as a whole. The young adults led four panel discussion workshops, sharing a diversity of experiences about what it’s like to be a young adult in a U*U community, and to share young adult reflections on climate justice. We created a worship together, where we spoke eight different languages, and the Transylvanians translated a favorite song into English.
After the work of the day concluded, people stayed up late into the night chatting, sharing experiences. The last two days were a flurry of connections—sharing gifts from different countries, hugs, drinks, theological insights, and—from our Dutch friends—herring and salty licorice. Those last two items weren’t as universally loved as the beloved stroopwafels!
I was incredibly moved by the work of the ICUU and the wisdom, depth, and energy of the global young adult U*U community. In 2018 the conference will be in the Khasi Hills of India. I encourage all of you to promote the conference to the young adults in your life who would benefit from such a unique, international U*U experience!
One of the participants wrote of their experience: “A spark was ignited and we will take it home, making ICUU brighter. Beauty was highlighted in our differences/traditions and our similarities.”
Thanks for your report on the conference in the Netherlands. Did you get any support from the Sieverling Fund? If not you might explore whether there might be some $$ for 2018.
Best wish as you follow your dreams and your path.