YRUU A Five-Year Review of Programs for Youth 1989 - Appendix A

YRUU Five Year Review

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YRUU 5 Year Review - VI - Appendix A - Committee Process

A. Committee process

1. Committee meetings

The YRUU Five-Year Review Committee met five times in Boston: October 1987, January, June, and October 1988; and January 1989.

2. Questionnaires

We invested a good deal of effort in a six-page questionnaire designed to gain information from youth about their experiences with and attitudes toward YRUU. and we developed variations on the questionnaire for adults.

We also designed specialized short questionnaires for particular groups. These questionnaires distributed in person turned out to be the most useful. We are especially grateful to LREDA, the district presidents, and the Conclave of district RE chairs, all of whom took time during their 1987 conferences to give thoughtful responses. Committee member Miki Conn was responsible for the tabulation of all questionnaire responses.

In retrospect, we can see we ought to have conducted a trial survey to refine (and most likely shorten) our instrument. The response rate, especially on the youth questionnaire distributed through Synapse, was far too small to justify any generalizations about the groups surveyed. We have therefore been cautious about using survey data in forming our conclusions, except where respondents expressed ideas or suggestions we found fruitful.

(a) Questionnaire distribution and responses:

Figure 2: Questionaire distrobution and responses

Subject populationWhere distributedNumber distributedNumber received - Youth Number Received - Adults
UU Youth Synapse *

informally through LREDA members, Youth Council Reps, and District Executives

1988 GA Hearing







Advisors, parents, ministers, DREs, RE Teachers REACH **

1988 GA Hearing





District Youth Adult Committees mailed27 1 9
District RE chairs 1987 Conclave *** 23 1 9
Members of the Liberal Religious Education Assn. 1987 fall conference 40
District Service Representatives
District Presidents 1987 fall conference 20
12,099 62 95

(b) Summary of information gained from questionnaires

The youth responses to the questionnaires showed the respondents to be enthusiastic participants in youth activities. The youth participate for friendship and fun as well as for intellectual stimulation, and the main reason cited for not participating was "too busy." Adults and youth agree that rallies and conferences are among the most rewarding and successful of the activities. Both adults and youth feel that YRUU is accepted in their local congregations as well as their districts, and most indicate that their experience in YRUU has been rewarding.

The LREDA questionnaires showed a broad range of programs for youth, including structured RE offerings as well as youth-led groups. This may be especially so in larger congregations. Adult participation covers a large range of leadership styles. This evidence confirms our impression from many sources that the trend in UU youth programming is toward a broader variety than existed five or ten years ago.

The district presidents varied in their awareness and evaluation of YRUU groups and activities in their districts, but we saw no pattern of alienation or deep dissatisfaction such as existed in the late 1970s. We do see a desire in many districts for more effective communication and more adult participation with youth.

Our adult respondents strongly feel the need for training in youth work, and both adults and youth mention training for youth as well. In addition, a lack of communication is a widely perceived problem within districts and on the continental level. Youth programming on the district level is felt to need improvement, and few of those responding to the questionnaire participated in or were familiar with programs on the continental level.

It is difficult to generalize about the views of youth on the "age-range" issue. Many did not answer this part of the questionnaire, perhaps because of the awkward phrasing of the question. The youth indicated that the "classroom" programs they participate in generally include youth ages 13 to 18 years, and district programs include youth ages 12 to 22 years.

Adults emphatically preferred separate programs for junior highers and senior highers as well as a lowered upper age limit. Many mentioned the need for post-high programming.

3. Correspondence

The Committee advertised its existence and invited correspondence through The World, Synapse (the broad-circulation YRUU newspaper), Spider (the newsletter for YRUU leaders), and Youth Advisory (a newsletter for advisors that is included in the REACH packet.

In response, we received letters from the following:

  • Jennifer Cullison, conference coordinator, reporting on discussions at a Pacific Central District YRUU conference (1 / 15 / 88);
  • Jennie Phillips, youth member of the Joseph Priestley District Board and Youth-Adult Committee (2 27/88);
  • Pepi Acebo, 1987 Youth Council Representative from the Mid-South District (undated); and
  • Duane Dowell, adult member of Youth Council and Steering Committee (1 1/20/88).

All letters were copied and distributed to the committee members.

4. Interviews and case studies

In an effort to benefit from the best thinking of leaders across the continent, we conducted interviews with selected persons, and we studied two local youth programs by talking to various participants. We were particularly interested in getting the views of several ministers of religious education, because our committee (contrary to the announced plan) did not have a member who was a DRE or MRE settled in a congregation. The following is a tabulation of these interviews.

Figure 3: Interview tabulation
Date Interview Subject Interviewers
3/88 Rev. Norma Veridan,
Minister of Religious Education.
First Unitarian Church
Dallas, Texas
Gene Navias
3/88 Tom Cutter, youth advisor
All Souls UU Church
Watertown, New York
Miki Conn
4/88 Rev. Roberta Nelson,
Minister of Religious Education
Cetar Lane Unitarian Church
Bethesda, Maryland
Gene Navias
4/88 Rev. Tracey Robinson-Harris,
former Minister of Religious Education
First Parish Church
Lexington, Massachusetts
Gene Navias
6/88 Rev. Ellen Brandenburg
Andrew Moeller
Leia Durland
UUA Youth Staff
Whole committee
6/88 Rev. Wayne B. Arnason
former UUA Youth Programs Director and Minister,
Thomas Jefferson Memorial church
Charlottesville, Virginia
Gene Navias
Dan Hotchkiss
Ann Harnar
7/88 Rev. Gary Blaine,
Director, The Mountain
Highlands, North Carolina
Dan Hotchkiss
8/88 Steve Jerome
UU Young Adults Network
Gene Navias

Society Studied
First Unitarian Church
San Jose, California
Committee Member
Laila Ibrahim

First Unitarian Church
Rochester, New York
Miki Conn

5. Hearings and consultations

(a)Youth Council, August 1987

Shortly after the appointment of the Five-Year-Review Committee, Dan Hotchkiss attended part of the Youth Council meeting in Toronto. Ann Hamar was already in attendance as the UUA board liaison. Dan and Ann presented the committee's charge and received many useful suggestions from Youth Council representatives.

(b) UUA Religious Education Advisory Committee (REAC), March 1988

Dan Hotchkiss met with REAC at Pickett House to give them a progress report. REAC, which has a liaison relationship with the YRUU Steering Committee, had originated the proposal for a five-year review of YRUU. After this meeting, REAC took the following actions:

1. We continue to be concerned with the critical need for leadership training for adults working with youth in our congregations. We regret that such programs cannot be funded at this time. Therefore, we urge the Department of Religious Education to do whatever it can to begin to supply this need. We wonder if the UUA Administration can assist the department in seeking short-term grants for use in the near future.

2. We appreciate that the chair of the YRUU Review Committee came to meet with us and reported fully on its progress. We regret that a director or minister of religious education was not appointed to the committee as proposed, and we recommend that the Committee consult with religious educators highly knowledgeable about youth programming.

(c) YRUU Steering Committee, April 1988 To the YRUU Steering Committee, Dan Hotchkiss presented substantially the same report he had given to REAC the month before. Also present from the committee were Ann Hamar and Gene Navias. A lively discussion ensued, much of it about the age-range issue. Some interesting and creative ideas were expressed, a number of which have found their way into this report. The tone of much that was said was in opposition to a change in the age range, but when asked whether the Committee had a position against a change, one member said. "No, we are divided ... inside ourselves."

(d) General Assembly, June 1988

At the 1988 UUA General Assembly in Palm Springs, California, we held a hearing on June 17 to which all GA registrants were invited to give information or express views on UU youth programs. Representing the committee were Dan Hotchkiss, Laila Ibrahim, Ann Hamar, and Gene Navias.

After a brief introductory presentation covering the information we had gathered up to that point and the issues we expected to address in our report, several of the 30 or 40 people who attended spoke in turn, with some lively dialogue ensuing. Minutes taken by Gene Navias were copied and distributed to all committee members. By a show of hands, those attending identified themselves as follows: 17 youth, eight youth leaders, two adult advisors, five other adults, one MRE/DRE, and one parish minister.

e) Youth Council, August 1988 Committee members Becky Scott, Laila Ibrahim, Gene Navias, and Dan Hotchkiss attended the August 1988 Youth Council meeting in Tulsa, Oklahoma. We were given a day and a half of the Youth Council's time in which to present our preliminary findings and tentative conclusions and to solicit a response. This was done in small groups. which responded thoroughly to each of the major issues (adult and youth leadership, age range, structure and accountability, program content, delivery of services. and behavior). Again the age range issue proved to be the most provocative and difficult to resolve. We kept and distributed among the committee a thorough record of all that was said.

* Synapse is the YRUU Newspaper, which is sent directly to congregations and those on the YRUU mailing list.[Back]

**The REACH (Religious Education Action Clearing House) packet is sent to all congregations and about 300 subscribers.[Back]

***Conclave is the annual gathering of district religious education chairs or their representatives.[Back]


Translated from the original text document to htm by Lorne Tyndale, YRUU Programmes Specialist September 1993 - August 1994. The document was on lryer.org. I have placed the document on this site as I've been notified that lryer.org appears to be down.

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