Denise Graves (Lewis) of LRY (Liberal Religious Youth) MVF (Missouri Valley Federation)

From 1974-1978 I was involved with the Kansas City LRY local from All Souls Unitarian. We were a UU family -- my dad liked the Sunday morning discussion group and my mom helped with the RE when we were young. Naturally I followed my older sister into LRY. These were my kindred spirits and became my teenage social group. (I think I had a mutual rejection going on with my peers at school.) Eventually I attended a couple of ConCons and Continental Board meetings. I preferred the board meetings mainly because they were more focused and purposed. This led to my position on the Continental Exec Committee 1978-79. This was just after the SCOYP report that was a very negative reflection on LRY and put our position and funding with the UUA in jeopardy. This made for a very stressful and exciting time. At this time our committee worked at 25 Beacon St. and all lived in the same apartment. The discussion/conflict between LRY and the UUA was a reflection of the UUA at the time that was also declining in numbers and desperately trying to find new ways to attract members. At the time it also seemed like a parody of family relations when parents wish that their teenagers could be more like the neighbors kids. Truthfully the number of real members in LRY was rapidly shrinking. We knew that a lot of the information we were sending out would be received by nobody. In the few years after my time on the Exec. Committee I did not have any organized involvement with LRY or UUs. I was still in contact with my closest LRY friends but preferred to find some real world experience. For the next 30 years I have been immersed in a real world. Living in the rural south it has been sink or swim to learn to be comfortable among conservative people many of whom have not been exposed to a lot of outside influences. I have also followed a traditional path of being married and raising 3 children and now having grandchildren. I don't know if this change in lifestyle was a rejection of my growing up years. I have also thought of it in a way similar to child actors -- I was at the front lines of a group doing what I considered extremely important work. After that nothing could quite compare. At least nothing that was available to me at the time. Recently my husband and I have discovered a UU congregation nearby in Bellevue Tennessee. After 30 years away from UU stuff, it seems very familiar. It has become a respite for us and gives us a balance to our "real world" lives. Anyway that's what happened to me.

Added 2014 March 25th.

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