Jennifer Gates, Youth and Family Minister
In youth ministry, we are excited about the prosperity we are experiencing every day. Our goal is for every child, teen, and adult who crosses our threshold to be involved in a spiritual experience within an engaging and supportive environment while also experiencing real life examples that allow for classroom learning to be implemented in everyone’s daily life. As you may know, this past Sunday after church, our church community held its annual Member Meeting – a time for reflecting upon our past successes and envisioning the progress we are working towards in the coming year(s). What a perfect opportunity for examining the achievements of our youth ministry department!
Over the past year, our average Sunday attendance across all our age groups has increased by 50%, and while a few volunteers have moved on to other ventures, we have added 4 new youth ministry adult volunteers to our team. In addition, we have seen the opening of our nursery space for babies and toddlers under the loving direction of our new nursery worker. This cozy nursery space is located inside our newly expanded and renovated youth ministry classrooms. What a beautiful and collaborative effort from our youth ministry volunteers and our facilities team!
Each Sunday, all our attendees gather for a beginning Circle Time which includes prayer, affirmations, our UCSA mission and vision statements as well as our family blessing. Afterwards, we dismiss to classrooms based upon grade level for age-appropriate story/discussion, games, activities, and meditation. Each Sunday’s lesson plans are written in house by the Youth Ministry Director and include portions from Unity Curriculum, our own church’s values, and current world events.
Our youth ministry participants are also pleased to have been involved in a variety of outreach projects for our own campus and beyond. In addition to assisting with our church’s past Christmas Giving Parties at Pecan Hill, just down the road from our church, the youth ministry team has also assisted with this year’s Valentine’s outreach project there. And, last year, we made homemade Easter cards and hand-delivered them to the residents of Pecan Hill as well. Another holiday related event is the annual ornament making that our children and teens do for Harbour Hospice in the larger San Antonio community. We have also supported one of our teen’s school project – collecting money and canned goods for the San Antonio Food Bank. Other events that we have supported here on the UCSA campus include our annual Muffins for Moms in May, Donuts for Dads in June, the international event Pinwheels for Peace, and organizing the Community Christmas Celebration in December. We were extremely blessed this past November to organize and lead a very successful churchwide chili cookoff and baked goods fundraiser in honor of Rev. Jimmie’s anniversary.
The largest community wide event that our children, teens, and volunteers produce for our church is the annual summertime Youth Led Sunday Service. Our past two services have been based upon the 12 Unity Powers and Unity’s 5 Basic Principles. We are looking forward to another successful event this summer, on June 30, as we share our thoughts on Living a Life of Prosperity. Of special note, these services are not limited to the teens you see up on stage speaking or sharing musical talents. Each of our summer youth led services is based upon a topic which has been studied and discussed in our classrooms for weeks in advance. Additionally, our children and teens serve as ushers, in the sound booth, and as social hosts. We are also lovingly shown the behind-the-scenes tour of everything that goes into making a successful Sunday service at UCSA. It is a time of connection, sharing, and deep understanding.
We are so proud of every single child and teen who enters our classroom space as well as the amazing adult volunteers who are committed to expanding not only the understanding and knowledge of our children and teens, but also that of their own spiritual journeys. On behalf of our children, teens, families and volunteers, a huge thank you goes out to our wonderful UCSA community for allowing us the grace and space to gather, learn, and grow. Namaste.