James Griner has joined the UUA Congregational Life Staff in the Pacific Western Region (PWR) as Interim Youth Ministry Specialist.
James fills the position vacated by Jennica Davis-Hockett in mid-August, when she was recruited by the UUA office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry. As Interim Youth Ministry Specialist for the PWR, James’ primary focus will be on supporting the existing youth ministry programs of the PNWD and the Mountain Desert District. The Rev. Nancy Bowen, Pacific Western Region Congregational Life Staff Lead, anticipates that James’ interim service will continue through the busy summer youth program months, and allow some overlap with the successor position.
James brings solid experience as a UU youth and young adult advisor since 2007 for his congregation, First Unitarian Church in Salt Lake City. He has been an adult sponsor at numerous Youth Cons, has facilitated workshops, and has served on camp staff for Mountain Desert District’s QUUest Camp for youth, 2011-2014, including supervising the camp Deans.
In addition to youth & young adult ministry for his congregation, James has been a Small Group Ministry facilitator, OWL teacher, Adult RE facilitator, Coming of Age mentor and co-leader of the junior high heritage trip to Boston. He’s also a 2007 graduate of Russell Lockwood Leadership School, which lead him to develop and produce a local Young Adult Leadership Conference, to serve as a member and then chair of his church’s Lay Service Committee, and then to appointment as a member of the church’s board of directors.
James has pursued his interests in youth development, communications, conflict resolution, and media through a variety of academic endeavors, too. James earned a BA in Communications from Baylor University (1997) and was awarded a Master Level Certificate of Conflict Resolution in 2007. He earned his MSW from the University of Utah in 2012, and passed the Clinical Social Work Exam in the State of Utah last year. This Interim position comes at an opportune time for James, as he looks towards a career shift to pursue his interest in social work. James anticipates PhD study is potentially on the horizon as he visions himself serving as faculty at some point in the future.
James is passionate about youth development. Some key objectives he has identified in working with youth development include “developing healthy adaptive ways of managing conflict, setting clear boundaries, awareness of self and environment, practicing self-awareness and humility, and building respectful relationships…to contribute to cultivating thoughtful, respectful, grounded youth and future leaders.” Youth ministry is of utmost importance for James, and he regularly is advocating for the tremendous value UU programming provides in the development of youth because it provides “a listening ear, a non-judgmental perspective, and a safe, respectful space to explore ideas.”
In addition to church leadership and graduate school, James has worked as a computer technician with the University of Utah since 2005. To allow him to transition smoothly to his new position, he’ll start with PWR at 3/4-time for the time being.
When he is not traveling to attend youth ministry events and work with youth ministry leaders in the PWR, James will work out of his home in Salt Lake City. He can be reached via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about the Pacific Western Region at pwruua.org and meet the PWR Congregational Life Staff at the “About Us” page on the PWR website.