David Courtney of LRY (Liberal Religious Youth) Houston, Texas

What was the youth group to which you belonged (also city, and congregation if you care to identify it), region, and what were the years?

First Unitarian (Houston TX) 1970, then Emerson Unitarian (Houston) 1971-1972.

Was your family UU (or Unitarian or Universalist) and what was their generational history as far as involvement in UU? Had family members been involved in former UU or Unitarian or Universalist youth groups and do you know what their experience might have been? If you were from outside UU, what was your religious/spiritual/social upbringing?

My family joined First Unitarian Church when I was about 12. I was 16 when I joined LRY.

How did you learn of the youth group, or what attracted you to it? What kept you there? Why and when did you leave? Did it provide an environment that was missing elsewhere in your life? Were you looking for spiritual experience, social consciousness activities, intellectual stimulation, personal friendships? How were these things fulfilled or not? What growth/change did you feel?

I came to LRY, not through my family's UU experiences, but through a friend. I was socially very isolated from my High School classmates, so socialising with my classmate was just something that was not going to happen. LRY gave me solid social attachments with people who I felt a kinship with.

At the time, I had wide interests in almost everything connected with leftist politics, Eastern religions, and new age. In short, I was very much emersed in he late 60s/early 70's counterculture. I was 16, when I joined LRY, and almost 19 when I went off to college (1972). This was a period of tremendous personal growth, and my LRY experiences were inextricably linked to my development as an adult.

What were your experiences local and non-local (conferences)? Did you prefer one over the other or did they complement each other well? Was non-local experience accessible?

I participated in local and regional retreats in the Texas Gulf Coast area.

How did your experiences affect your life in the short term and long term? Were you UU as an adult--why or why not?

When I went away to college, I outgrew LRY and just never got back into UU, nor did I identify with any organised religion. As far as spiritual and general world views, I am in alignment with most of the Unitarians that I know. I just do not feel the need to go to the church every week.

What was your awareness of the group and its activities as far as being youth-directed and the history of youth-direction in UU youth groups? If you hadn't much awareness of the history of UU youth groups, would you have been interested in learning more? If you hadn't awareness of the history of the UU youth groups, would education in that history have further molded your experience and expectations of yourself and others? Would it have affected a sense of legacy? If you were interested in legacy, did you feel you were able to contribute beneficially or not?

I have spent a lot of time thinking about my time in LRY. Did I contribute anything to it? I don't know. Was a youth directed organisation like this a good idea? I don't know. It was a social experiment and I feel proud that I was a part of it. However, I can certainly understand why it was closed down. We were young and certainly did not know any boundaries. Do I know the full history of the organisation? Probably not as much as I should.

What was your sense of youth-adult relations between the youth group and the host congregation? The youth group and advisors?

The relationships were complicated; it also varied from individual to individual. There were some adults that became role models for me, with whom I maintained relations with for decades afterwords.

It seems to me it would be useful to not just learn what individuals found beneficial or not about their experience in the youth group, but to contextualize it generationally. What was going on in your area outside the group in other formal and informal groups of individuals of similar ages? What was going on societally that you feel affected your experience of and participation in the youth group?

I came of age during the tumultuous age of the late 1960's. The established institutions of mainstream religion, schools, and political structures, clearly could not be trusted to provide any valid or meaningful guidance. LRY was all that I had - It was all that WE had. We were all the same age, and all equally at loose ends; but we were struggling through these things together.

I can honestly say that my experiences with LRY had more influence upon my development as a human than any other individual, organisation, or institution.

If you care to do so, you may submit a picture of yourself, present or as a teen.

Added 2023 Jan 16.

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