You rush to get everyone dressed and out the door (knowing you’ll be 10 minutes late, again) but knowing it’s worth it… because today is the first Sunday your teen will be worship leader at WellSprings. A fourth grader hands you a bulletin at the door, when you arrive, his dad close behind – and glancing back at the Tech booth, you notice your teen’s old babysitter (home from college for the summer) is running the sound board today!
Families mill around setting up chairs, the littlest ones working out their energy carrying and unfolding each seat. Reading the order of service, you see that a teen you’ve never met is sharing a Charged-Full Living today – they’ve been working with our Addictions & Recovery Team to create a support group for families affected by substance use disorder at their school. Another one of your child’s friends is up on stage practicing drums with the band. You know how hard she’s been working on this song, and so does your younger daughter. She tugs on your shirt and points up at the drummer, “Can I play in the church band someday?”
WellSprings has been imagining what a more robust program of engagement and spiritual connection for our youth might look like.
Since the re-formatting of YouthSpirit some eleven months ago, we have been searching for and experimenting with ways to make more intentional connections with ALL WellSprings youth, not just our amazing 5-12 year olds. One such “experiment” was the intergenerational WellCome Back service, where kids and adults worked side by side making their own little “Forky”. We have another all-ages service planned for April. We are considering what a Coming of Age program could look like at WellSprings, where friends leaving YouthSpirit could be better integrated into our Sunday worship services.
During 2016-17, WellSprings created the YouthSpirit Formation team to review and re-format our YouthSpirit progam. These dedicated volunteers spent over 18 months discerning the needs of our kids, the preferences of our parents, and the aspirations of our congregation, producing a new format that was brought to life last December, featuring smaller, age-alike groups with consistent lead mentors. Not yet a year in, and our leaders are noting more meaningful interactions with our YouthSpirit friends.
But during the work of this team, the focus did not remain entirely on our 5-12 year olds. We discussed and explored many ideas that would touch our littlest WellSpringers, our teens, their families, and our entire congregation. Themes of intergenerationality and community within the whole of WellSprings came up again and again.
Could we aspire to the example featured above? Beloved community engagement across numerous groups and multiple generations, on Sundays? …and beyond?
In order to bring our groups even closer together, to offer more to our kids 0-17, we need your help! More volunteers. More ideas. More minds and hearts committed to supporting ALL the WellSprings youth among us, and connecting them with the whole of WellSprings.
First and foremost, we are re-creating our YouthSpirit Core Ministry. And because the goal is to create pathways of connection between our youth and the whole of WellSprings, we are calling this new ministry, for now at least, the YouthBridge Core Ministry. We don’t know exactly what the work will look like. Perhaps you will create new programs, survey families, or uncover new bridges of connection with our beloved community. It will be up to this ministry to help WellSprings evolve to better serve all WellSprings youth (and choose a more permanent name should they be inspired to 🙂
Ultimately, this evolution might include: regularly occurring teen programs, new “tween” programs, youth Sunday service “internships”, continued YouthSpirit SpringBoards, more family events, parenting events, and a flourishing Core Ministry discerning the ongoing needs and preferences of our youth and their families. It is our hope to create more engagement, greater spiritual growth, a desire to serve, increased joy and connection, and deeper community among this next generation of our UU faith and of WellSprings.
But to build these new bridges, we’ll need you! For information on the many ways to serve WellSprings youth, please see REALM or pickup a hard-copy at Sunday service, and please consider joining our new YouthBridge Core Ministry.
Questions about all things WellSprings Youth should go to Carol Breslin at email@example.com