That's a wrap on Intergenerational
November 23, 2022
Written by Bethany Broadstock
My daughter is almost three years old now, and if you’ve ever spent time with an overly verbal toddler or young child you’ll know that ‘why?’ becomes a constant question.
Children around this age embody a curiosity about the world that leaves them dissatisfied with hearing about the way things are, they also want to know ‘why’ they are this way. For every explanation there is usually another ‘why’ coming, and the more layers you peel, the more your own worldview is revealed!
The more I answer it, the more I feel that ‘why’ is an important question. For children it helps to fill in the gaps of what they understand about the world. For adults, it encourages us to reflect on the reality of the world, why things are the way they are, and sometimes, why they should be different.
‘Why’ is a great question to ask about the Assembly’s key strategic priorities too, helping us to understand why they are meaningful and what drives them.
Over the last month the Assembly has been telling stories of communities around the Uniting Church which are seeking to live out one of these priorities – our commitment to being Intergenerational. In the Assembly’s Strategic Plan, the long version is: ‘welcome, equip, and hold together different generations in the life, ministry, decision making and leadership of the Church’.
This flows from the belief that all are embraced into the family of Christ and called on the life-long journey of discipleship. So, we are committed to growing diverse Christian communities which meaningfully embrace and affirm the value of every person, communities which cross generational boundaries and communities which make space for the unique contributions of each generation.
In these stories we have seen some of the marks of intergenerational community: Christ-centred gatherings of whole communities, planned and purposeful settings which welcome all ages, a mutual investment by all and the courage to embrace the change that intergenerational brings. They demonstrate how, at its heart, intergenerational is not about a program but about a vision and a culture.
Most of all, in these stories are fantastic examples of ‘why’ we are committed to intergenerational ministry and community. Understanding why it is meaningful is so important if we are to incorporate it into the vision of our communities and national Church.
So why intergenerational?
Because intergenerational settings lead us into the transformational joy of playful connection, like at Margaret River Uniting Church in Western Australia, where an enduring intergenerational playgroup is creating connections with the community and supporting local families.
Because it creates new opportunities and takes us out of our usual spaces and comfort zones, like at Eaglehawk Uniting Church in Victoria, where older people are joining the Sunday School and people of different ages are becoming meaningfully involved in preaching.
Because it leads us into intentional community learning, like for those congregations in Victoria and South Australia who took part in the GenOn Coaching process, reflecting on their current situation alongside others and experimenting with new things.
Because it opens us to God’s renewal, like at Trinity Alberton Uniting Church in South Australia, where the congregation has been transformed by the courage to embrace change and each other.
Because it turns siloed communities into family, says Pastor Simon Story at Trinity Alberton UC.
Because it is a way of looking holistically at the ministry of our churches again, says Rev Sam Joo at Uniting By The Bay in Victoria.
Because the more diversity, more voices, more participation and more perspectives we have in our communities, the more likely we are to hear and know God in new ways, says Rev Cynthia Page at Eaglehawk UC.
As we turn now towards Advent, and (believe it or not) the end of the present year, you may find in the coming new year an opportunity to ask ‘why’ in your context. Why would it be meaningful for us in this time and place to nurture this kind of community?
If you have a great story about intergenerational community in your context, or if you’re exploring the journey, we would love to hear about it. Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org