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Unitarian Universalist Youth Ministry Survey Results New Hampshire-Vermont and Northeast Districts


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Title: Unitarian Universalist Youth Ministry Survey Results New Hampshire-Vermont and Northeast Districts

Unitarian Universalist Youth Ministry Survey
Results New Hampshire-Vermont and Northeast
Notes on the Survey
  • There is no data available on youth in the
    Association to determine whether the distribution
    of survey returns is statistically representative
    or not.
  • The survey findings described here should be
    understood within the context of those who
    responded to the survey rather than all UU

Note on this Presentation
Unless noted, the data presented here is for all
of the survey respondents continent-wide. Data
for New Hampshire-Vermont and Northeast District
respondents is included when it differed notably
from the overall results. All percentages are
rounded to the nearest whole number, which
explains why the response to some questions does
not add up to 100.
  • Who Took the Survey?

  • 1,399 surveys were analyzed.
  • Surveys from the NHVT and NE Districts combined
    made up 6 (81) of the surveys.
  • 23 were from NHVT and 58 from NED.

Survey Respondent Demographics
  • Age 1,285 respondents reported their age. The
    average age of survey respondents was 15 years
    old (for NHVT, NED and overall). The age
    distribution for the two districts was also
    similar to the distribution overall.
  • Junior High Youth (12-14) 37 (471 respondents)
  • High School Youth (15-17) 59 (760 respondents)
  • Older Youth (18-20) 4 (54 respondents)
  • Identities The majority of respondents identify
    as female. This was true also in NHVT (77
    female), but not in NED (49 male). As in the
    overall survey results, the vast majority of
    respondents are also white (85 NHVT, 83 NED)
    and heterosexual (91 NHVT, 81 NED).

  • How Are NHVT and NE District Respondents Involved
    in UUism?

Do you currently attend religious education or
worship services at a UU congregation?
87 of all respondents say Yes.
Do other members of your family go to a UU
Overall and in the NHVT and NE Districts, more
than 90 of respondents say that their family
attends a UU congregation. NHVT and NE Districts
stand out as having some of the highest family
participation rates of all districts.
Does your congregation have a youth group?
92 of all respondents congregations have a
youth group.
Do you participate in your district youth
programs? If yes Are you, or have you been, an
officer, leader, or representative in the
district program?
Do you participate in continental youth programs?
The vast majority of respondents, overall and in
the NHVT and NE Districts, do not participate in
continental youth programs. A total of 116
respondents participate at this level.
Leadership and Identity
  • White respondents tend to hold more leadership
    roles at the congregational and district levels
    than respondents of color. At the continental
    level, leadership is more balanced between white
    respondents and respondents of color.
  • Respondents who reported their sexual orientation
    as gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, or questioning
    are very active in youth groups and likely to
    hold leadership positions.

Length of Time as UU
  • The majority of respondents are not new to
    Unitarian Universalism. There is some variation,
    however, depending on identity.
  • Respondents who identify as gay, lesbian,
    bisexual, questioning, transgender, pansexual, or
    queer are more likely than heterosexual
    respondents to have been Unitarian Universalists
    for less than one year.
  • Black/African American respondents tend to have
    been Unitarian Universalist for a much shorter
    period of time than other respondents, while
    biracial respondents have been Unitarian
    Universalist the longest of any group.
  • Transracially adopted respondents and respondents
    who identify as Black/African American are more
    likely to no longer identify as Unitarian
    Universalist than other respondents.

Besides a congregation, with what UU
organizations are you affiliated?
In the NHVT and NE Districts and overall, the
majority of respondents have not heard of the
organizations listed. About a quarter of the
respondents in each district are involved in UU
camps and conferences. NHVT District is one of
only two districts with respondents involved in
Choices Canadian Unitarian Council DRUUMM
Church of the Larger Fellowship Continental UU
Young Adult Network Interweave Latino/a UU
Networking Association UU Camp and Conference
Centers UU Womens Federation White Allies
Other I dont know what these organizations are
Five Key Areas
  • There are five key areas in which responses were
  • Meeting the Spiritual Needs of Youth
  • Intergenerational Community and Youth-Adult
  • Priorities and Involvement
  • Junior High Youth
  • Welcoming All Youth

Meeting the Spiritual Needs of Youth
  • A high percentage of respondents say their
    congregations provide opportunities to
  • Learn new things
  • Get involved in their communities
  • Develop leadership skills
  • They also feel welcome and respected in their

  • On all levels of youth ministry and across all
    ages and identities, a large percentage of
    respondents in the NHVT and NE Districts and
    overall report that their spiritual needs are not
    being met.
  • Congregation is my spiritual home 53 agree
  • NHVT 46 agree NED 51 agree
  • Youth group meets my spiritual needs 53 agree
  • NHVT 70 agree NED 61 agree
  • District programs meet my spiritual needs 70
  • Continental programs meet my spiritual needs 63

Describe your spiritual beliefs and how
involvement in your UU congregation has helped
shape those spiritual beliefs.
The responses to this question reflect a diverse
UU youth community. Older respondents were
more likely to share a detailed description of
their spiritual beliefs, while younger
respondents were sometimes unsure. Many
respondents mentioned the influence and value of
their congregations Coming of Age program.
Reflection Questions
  • How can Unitarian Universalist youth ministry
    help youth to determine their spiritual needs,
    articulate their faith, feel spiritually
    fulfilled, and live out their faith in the world?
  • How do congregations and the district currently
    contribute to the spiritual development of youth?
  • How could congregations and the district
    contribute to the spiritual development of youth?

Intergenerational Community and Youth-Adult
How would you rate each of the following members
of your congregation on their support of youth
and youth ministry?
  • Throughout all districts, respondents who
    participate only in RE feel more
    congregation-wide support than respondents who
    participate only in youth group.

  • Some respondents who have been enriched by their
    involvement in district and continental youth
    programs and the possibilities for youth-adult
    partnerships at those levels are not finding the
    same support from adults in their congregations.

Reflection Questions
  • What aspects of congregational life may cause
    youth who are active in district and continental
    youth programs to feel alienated or isolated
    within their own congregations?
  • What can 1) congregations and 2) district and
    continental leaders (youth and adult), do to make
    the majority of youth feel supported in

  • Priorities and Involvement

Which of the following activities are you
involved with in your congregation?
Choices Social action Worship service Help
with RE Social events Fundraising Music in
worship Coffee hour Choir Committees Teach
RE Board member
  • The most common congregational activities among
    NHVT and NE District respondents are
  • Social action
  • Lead/participate in services
  • Other activities
  • Help with RE classes

Youth Programs and Congregational Involvement
Respondents who are involved in youth programs,
or whose congregations do not offer a youth
program, are more involved in congregational
activities than respondents who choose not
participate in youth programs.
For example, the most common activities across
all districts
Involvement Beyond the Congregation
Youth group involvement is positively correlated
not just to congregational involvement, but also
to involvement in district and continental youth
  • District Youth Programs
  • Youth Group District Youth Programs 48 of
  • No Youth Group District Youth Programs 31 of
  • Continental Youth Programs
  • Of the 116 respondents who are involved in
    continental youth programs, 102 are involved in
    their district and 108 are involved in a youth

Does your youth group use YRUU or Youth Office
resources (e.g. website, Synapse, etc.)?
  • Of respondents whose congregations have a youth
    group, 55 use YRUU or Youth Office resources.
  • NHVT District 44 use resources
  • NE District 31 use resources

Which of the following describes why you no
longer go to an RE program or youth group for
12-18-year-olds, even though you are the right
age to attend?
  • This graph, which depicts the results for all
    respondents, shows the top three reasons as
  • 1. Too busy
  • 2. Didnt like other
  • youth
  • 3. Started attending
  • worship instead

Reflection Question
  • What could motivate youth to become and remain
    actively involved in different types of youth

Junior High Youth
  • The following is what junior high respondents in
    all districts reported

Congregational Involvement
  • The top congregational activities among junior
    high respondents are
  • Social action (28)
  • Leading or helping with worship services
  • A third of junior high respondents are not
    involved with any congregational activities a
    much higher proportion than high school (age
    15-18) respondents.

Should junior high youth programming be separate
from high school youth programming?
Note Percentages include only the respondents
who are involved at that level (district or
High school and older respondents are more likely
than junior high respondents to believe that
there should be separate age-based programming.
How do you find out about district and
continental youth events or activities?
Junior High District Participation
Junior High Continental Participation
Junior high respondents currently rely on local
sources (youth advisor, RE director, friends) and
electronic sources (e-mail, websites).
Junior High Survey
  • A recent survey of UUA districts and CUC regions
    sought to discover the levels of programming and
    representation of junior high youth. The survey
    included input from every UUA district and three
    Canadian regions.

Basic Data 78 of districts/regions offer
junior high programming. Eight
districts/regions have junior high representation
in their youth leadership structure.
This 2006 survey was conducted independent of the
UUA by Tim Murphy, Youth Office Chrysalis Trainer
and Youth Advisor at UU Church of Indianapolis.
Reflection Questions
  • Junior high respondents are rooted in their local
    congregations, but seem to be interested in being
    more involved in the larger movement.
  • How can we ensure that there are relevant
    opportunities and resources for junior high
    youth, and that this information reaches them,
    enabling them to be actively involved both within
    their congregation and in the larger UU community?

Welcoming All Youth
  • The response to the survey suggests that the UU
    youth population is predominantly white and
    heterosexual, with a female majority in most
  • How does this affect whether our youth ministry
    is welcoming to youth of diverse identities and
  • The following is what respondents in all
    districts reported

  • Respondents who identify as gay, lesbian,
    bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning are
    very active in Unitarian Universalism and hold
    many leadership positions.
  • Compared to the proportion of heterosexual
    respondents involved in the following, these
    respondents are more likely to be
  • Involved in congregational activities
  • Involved with other UU organizations
  • Involved in local, district, and continental
    youth programs
  • Leaders in congregational and continental youth

GLBTQQ Youth and Group Pressure
The group/program places a lot of pressure on
people to have the same attitudes and beliefs.
  • Respondents who identify as bisexual, pansexual,
    queer, and questioning are most likely to report
    feeling pressure to conform to group attitudes
    and beliefs in local and district youth programs.
    Conversely, on the continental level,
    gay/lesbian and heterosexual respondents are most
    likely to feel group pressure.

Gender and Leadership
The following table shows the proportion of male,
female and transgender/genderqueer/other gender
respondents involved in youth program leadership
Even though transgender, genderqueer and other
gender respondents hold proportionately more
leadership positions than males/females, they do
not rate their experience as positively
Gender in Youth Ministry
  • Compared to the proportion of male/female
    respondents, respondents who identify as
    transgender, genderqueer, or other genders
    consistently rate their youth group experience

For example
Race and Youth Ministry
Respondents of color are more represented at
the district/continental levels, and hold
proportionately more leadership positions in
continental programs. Even though respondents
of color make up a larger proportion of
continental participants than at other levels of
youth programs, Black youth in particular are
less likely to feel that they belong in the
continental community or that their spiritual
needs are being met.
Transracially adopted respondents made up 63
(37) of all adopted respondents. 34 of them are
People of Color.
  • They rated the youth group experience
    consistently and significantly lower than other
    respondents especially in the three areas above.

Reflection Question
  • How can congregations support the healthy racial,
    gender, and sexual identity development of youth?

  • Conclusions

What is a Good Youth Ministry?
  • Most respondents agree that youth ministry should
  • Fun.
  • Inclusive and welcoming of all viewpoints and
    interests -- even traditional Christian ones.
  • Somewhat structured and offering opportunities
    for leadership and responsibility.
  • Designed to provide more opportunities to explore
    and develop spiritual beliefs.
  • Warmly accepted and supported by all adults in
    the congregation.
  • Grouped by age to allow more age-appropriate
  • Flexible enough to address a variety of social
    justice issues and interests of the youth

  • The results of the survey suggest that Unitarian
    Universalist youth ministry should
  • Be strong at the congregational level,
  • Provide opportunities for youth to connect with
    youth in other congregations,
  • Be supported by committed and involved adults.

Desired Outcomes of the Consultation on Ministry
To and With Youth
  • More than just a one-size-fits-all youth
    ministrya youth ministry that is robust,
    flexible, and diverse
  • Denominational youth work that focuses on
    serving local congregations
  • Mutually respectful and empowering relationships
    between youth and adults
  • Anti-racism and anti-oppression work infused
    within every part of youth ministry, with a
    recognition that there is not one "right" way of
    doing the workproviding a forum for youth
    identity development and institutional change
  • A youth ministry the meets the spiritual needs
    of youth and increases the spiritual depth of our
  • Effective communication within, between, and
    among all areas of the Association.
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