Welcome! We are a congregation that is committed to our youth and the development of their spiritual well-being. We are fortunate to have a thriving youth program, one where youth explore their personal beliefs, build lasting friendships, and engage in the larger world.
As the Minister of Congregational Life, I work alongside other professional staff with the youth (grades 9th – 12th) in our congregation, their parents, and the adult members who support our youth. My primary role is to build relationships with our youth, to support them as they explore the meaning of life, and to help them connect their vision of religious life with the larger congregation and Unitarian Universalism.
The teenagers that I meet grow up in a competitive world with high standards for education, arts, and sports. Unfortunately, no one seems to ask them how they are doing spiritually. That’s an important question for teenagers who are just beginning to explore their identities and beliefs. I want our youth to feel like this is a place where the adults care about the “still, small voice” within them. This is a place where their spirits are encouraged to show up – whether they come once a year or every week.
Our programs are open not only to youth who have grown up in the congregation and whose parents are members here. We also invite youth who have never attended “church,” who have been brought up in other religious communities, or who are simply seeking an intentionally inclusive youth community. One of our youth attends youth group at UCS and Catholic mass with his parents!
But don’t take my word for it. Read what our youth say about their experience at UCS.
We invite you to learn more about our congregation and its fantastic youth.
Coming of Age (CoA), 9th grade: CoA marks the rite of passage in life from youth to young adult. Taught by adult & youth teachers, students explore personal identity, family roots, Unitarian Universalism, spiritual disciplines, dreams & realities for the future, and the meaning of life.
CoA works hand‐in‐hand with Youth Group. It is held Sunday evenings from Septemberthrough June. For the first hour, CoA students attend Youth Group followed by a 60‐minute class. Through the course of the year, students will also visit Unitarian/Universalist sites in Boston & NJ, engage in service projects, and participate in a district youth conference. At the end of the year, our CoA class shares their personal belief statements with the larger congregation during a Sunday worship service in May.
Youth Group, Grades 9 ‐ 12: Youth Group is a safe, caring community where youth connect with one another. We build strong friendships with one another and with adults who care about us. We explore who we are, life as we know it and beyond. We act together to create a better, more hopeful, more justice‐filled community. We do all of this through activities, worship, games, discussion, sharing and field trips. We connect with one another within the bounds of our Covenant which reminds us how we can be with one another in caring ways.
Youth Group is led by elected youth leaders in partnership with the youth minister and adult advisors. It is held on Sunday evenings from September through June. Newcomers are welcome at any time.
Youth Participation in the larger Congregation: UCS is a congregation that welcomes youth to attend and participate in our larger congregation. Youth are invited to join us for worship and to share their skills & presence in worship services, social action, congregational committees, and religious education.
Tools for Parents: Being the parent of a teenager is both exciting and terrifying. We offer different tools – from educational workshops to small group support – to help parents along the way.
Parents are encouraged to support our youth programs and the larger congregation. However, generally-speaking, parents are not asked to be adult advisors or chaperons of our youth groups. You will probably be asked to drive 4-5 youth somewhere where they have interesting conversations as if you weren’t in the car or buy large amounts of groceries from a bulk-food store.
Advisors and Adult Teachers: Working with teenagers isn’t as hard as everyone makes it out to be. After all, teenagers are people. Just like you and me. In fact, it is often incredibly fun AND gratifying. (After all, what other meetings in your life are you asked: “If you could visit any planet, where and why?” or invited to sit by a tree for 30-minutes with your journal?) Also, don’t worry about being cool. You get your “cool” by caring about them.
Our advisors must have attended our congregation for at least 6-months prior to getting involved and must be 25-years old. Advisors are trained by our Youth Minister, mentored by other advisors, undergo a 3-month trial period, and attend regular advisor meetings.
Connecting to the larger Unitarian Universalist Youth Movement