Once, I hitchhiked to the UU Fellowship of Falmouth. I was 20, living in Woods Hole, MA for a winter where I fell in love with snow-covered beaches in January and I learned that a hankering to go to worship can land you in a stranger’s car, mug of tea balanced on your knees, speeding toward church.
When I walk into UU congregations, whether it’s First Parish in Cambridge where I am the Affiliate Community Minister or the UU Fellowship of Falmouth on that random, cold, Sunday morning, I feel instantly at home and also almost as instantly, alone. I’m at home because this is the faith that raised me – I know the hymns and rituals and the rhythms. I know that whether I’m a second grader in floral bike shorts and matching socks or a twenty-something hitchhiker, I am welcome.
I also felt alone because I hold identities that are minorities within our movement – I’m a young adult, a millennial and I’m a person of color. When I sit in churches, I feel the gift and weight of those identities – the blessings of my ancestors, the strength and resilience of my heritage, and also the expectation that I might help our faith move be transformed and transformative. It can feel like an honor and a loneliness, a charge and a burden.
This year summer, for the fifth year, the UUA will host Multicultural Leadership School, a gathering for UU youth and young adults of color from July 10th-July 14th, 2015 at the Walker Center outside of Boston. MLS is place for UU youth and young adults of African Descent, Caribbean, Native/American Indian, Asian and Pacific Islander, Latina/o and Hispanic, Middle Eastern/Arab, Multiracial and Multiethnic to deepen our faith, lift our spirits, and build critical skills for leadership in the face of our uncertain, broken and beautiful world.
Because we are so often alone, even when we are at home, we must find ways to be together. To grow our vibrant Unitarian Universalist faith, we must carve out communities of support and connection for those of us who so often hold identities alone.
Help spread the word to UU youth and young adults of color in your community! Application deadline is April 15th. Registration is $275 and includes transportation, housing, meals and all materials – no need to hitchhike to this one 🙂
Rev. Elizabeth Nguyen is the UUA Leadership Development Associate for Youth and Young Adults of Color and in this picture her socks match her bike shorts.
Thank you for sharing and for offering this program. I will share it with my church. I am struck by my parallel story; I too was born/raised UU, lived in Woods Hole in my mid twenties (1989-1991), and attended the Falmouth Church when I wasn’t working, although I had the benefit of a car and being white. I too felt the paradox of being at home and yet alone. As I study youth and young adults in a D. Min. program, I find this a common experience formed by transition and social neglect amongst other variables. I’m so glad UUs are intentionally reaching out to those from a multicultural/ethnic context.
Rev. Kate Walker, Mt. Vernon Unitarian Church (we both became ministers)
Thank you for your lovely writing and generous sharing of your feelings in a way that helps others understand.