As the Lead Rally Sponsor for UNB, I am honored and blessed to facilitate the ability to offer our Y.O.U. members the opportunity to attend Unity rallies during the year. This year, six of our Y.O.U.ers were able to attend a total of sixteen slots at the five rallies offered. This is an experience unlike any other during their year.
What Is A Rally?
From the Unity South Central website -
“... a safe place of unconditional love and acceptance where youth from across the region can gather for a weekend of spiritual growth and fun. The program consists of workshops or “truth talks” presented by YOU Officers; music and dancing; large and small group activities; meditation time; a talent show; and free-time activities.”
But - oh - it is so much more and is hard to put into words. Each rally has a theme for the weekend and all of the activities and curricular exercises are geared to explore that theme. The entire rally is planned and written by youth - the regional officers, indie officers, or Y.O.U.ers, depending on the rally - under the guidance and direction of adults. Because the event is born from their peers, the experience is relevant and relatable to the youth.
The adult role at rallies is to hold a loving and nurturing space for the spiritual growth and exploration by the youth and to help make certain that boundaries and trust agreements are met, while setting a living example of Unity Principles.
One of the most powerful elements of a rally is the family group. The attendants are divided into groups that contain two Family Group Leaders (youth), at least two adult sponsors, and other Y.O.U.ers. Family groups meet several times during the rally to expand on material presented in workshops. The peak of the rally experience for many of the teens is the heart talk which takes place on the last night’s meeting of the family group. Trust has been built within the group by this point and heart talk offers a sacred and safe space to share. It’s not a time to advise, just to share. For many teens this is the only place they share what is on their hearts fully and openly and it is one of the main reasons they come to a rally. Family is the perfect word for the group. The connections made in just one weekend in family group can last a lifetime.
What Did Our Y.O.U. LearnFrom Rallies This Year?
The themes for this year’s rallies were:
Fall Rally Foundations of the Soul
Winter Rally I Am Worthy
Service Rally Veneration
Legacy Rally Awake My Soul
IYOU Sound in Silence
Can you believe that youth came up with these themes and wrote curriculum and planned activities around these amazing themes? And the icing on the cake - hundreds of teens gave up their free time to study and explore their spiritual growth through the themes. As one of the regional officers from this year stated in a video linked below, “...you’re tapping into this deep well of knowledge that’s been within you all along…”. Wow. Just, wow!
And Something Incredible UNB Y.O.U.ers Created This Year!
UNB Y.O.U.ers were honored this year with being asked to create the yearly service rally - a first for UNB. Several of our Y.O.U.ers and parents dedicated many, many hours of early Sunday planning meetings, phone calls and trips to locations to co-create an incredible weekend of service for the Unity South Regional Service Rally. Veneration was the theme and the weekend was dedicated to service and to exploring the honoring of all life. We stayed at the beautiful Camp Young Judaea in Wimberley and the service project was carried out at SARA Animal Sanctuary in Seguin. The curriculum, meditations, activities, and workshops - all created by our Y.O.U.ers - were truly a shining example of the culmination of all that Unity has brought to the lives of our teens.
On the trip back home from the weekend, I asked the teens riding with me what their take-away was. Sofia said that it was more work than she ever knew it would be but that the work really paid off and was truly worth the effort. Quinton stated that he also didn’t realize how much work went into planning an event like this and that he now had a new appreciation for what the regional officers do to create the other rallies. He also said that when someone complained about something during the rally, he knew they didn’t have the whole picture like the planners did, so he learned to not take it personally.
Below you can see the slideshow from the event to better appreciate what an incredible job our teens did!
How Do Our Y.O.U.ers Get to Go to Rallies?
Y.O.U.ers must be in high school and must attend at least six Y.O.U. Sunday lessons in the three months prior to attending an event. They also sign a Trust Agreement for each event. At UNB, rallies are paid for ⅔ with fundraiser funds and ⅓ by families with fundraiser funds also providing the cost of sponsors - all if adequate funds are available, otherwise families cover the cost. The church pitches in an allowance for transportation expenses.
Why I LOVE What I Do!
I am passionate about these rallies because I noticed a remarkable “something” in Quinton the very first time he attended. I realized that he had a joy and sense of his true nature from one 3-day weekend that he was suddenly able to carry into his everyday life. How did this happen so quickly?!? I knew I needed to find out and see if I could help make this experience happen for other teens as well.
What I discovered was an unconditional “fitting in”. Teens at rallies come from many diverse backgrounds, experiences, social classes, talents, and interests. But unlike in school or in public, they are spending the time together to find their oneness while appreciating their individuality - all while being supported with the wisdom of the Unity Principles and 12 Powers. Outside of this setting, the focus is so often on separation and competition. Having a safe space to be loved by peers so seemingly different is quite a unique experience for a teen.
When Reverend Karen asked me to take this position, I knew she was asking me for a large commitment, but was honored that she trusted in me. After 26 years of teaching, I love the opportunity to work with young people in a new way. Over time, I have built rapport with many teens with my repeated attendance which has led to being trusted with prayer, asked for support with tough issues, writing letters of reference and even being called their rally Mom by some. All of this I consider a great honor. Why? Because that means to me that the person knows that I see the Christ Truth in them. And I do.
I have played many roles at rallies - sponsor, head room sponsor, wellness, head sponsor, photographer - all bringing opportunities for me to support the teens in unique ways. But mostly I get to experience awe and inspiration through the Y.O.U.er’s joy, honesty, wisdom, and growth. It is a circular blessing. I am privileged to do the work.
Take a further look at pictures in the slideshows here: