Each month, we post a series of blogs around a common topic. This month, Ellen Crawford True is curating reflections on intergenerational ministry. What does it look like for the church to do and be church together? What does it feel like to understand ourselves as vital parts of the body? What can it mean to seek to be faithful as children of God together, no matter what comes next? We invite you to join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter!
by Arlene Decina
Just a few weeks ago we gathered for our first planning meeting for this, the fifth year of our multi-generational event called The WELL. A last-minute adjustment to our plans had the six of us meeting in the living room of a new member to the team. With napping children upstairs, this change in location made it possible for her to be with us, and us with her. Another friend, new to the team, brought along her almost-2-year-old who happily kept herself busy with an assortment of toys in this child-friendly home. Making space—sacred space—for one another regardless of age, or stage, or gender, or family configuration is what The WELL is all about.
Indeed, over the past four years, a wonderful mix of church family and friends—from ages 6 weeks to over 90, families and singles, youth and young adults—have attended this three-evening, retreat-style gathering.
We opened our meeting with a conversation around the question of what, for each of us, is most important about The WELL. Amid the changes that are inevitable, what is it that we hold dear and want to keep?
One person mentioned how she enjoyed the intentionality of the dinner seating—spending three nights sharing a meal with her table group and getting to know them on a deeper level.
Another recalled the multi-generational “Montreat-style” games at gathering time. “It was simple, but there was something for everyone … and it was okay to just stand around and talk.” “The Minute-to-Win-It” games at dinnertime were fun, too.”
Our conversation moved to what we would offer children during the after-dinner program. Those in middle school and older will remain with the larger group, but we heard affirmation that having separate activities for the younger children during this part of the evening was an important way to nurture parents. Finding adult leaders who know and love the children is key, but it also matters that we give our year-long, regular teaching staff a breather. They need to be refreshed as well.
We talked about the importance of play, and what it means to engage in play that is genuine. A newcomer to the group asked, “Is the purpose of all of this to have quality time together among the generations?” In unison we answered, “Yes!” to which she replied, “It’s like having Rainbow [our midweek Logos program] for three days in a row!” “It’s about making memories as a church family,” another chimed in, recalling this seed that was the inspiration of The WELL from the start.
Several spoke with fondness about the evening vespers, when we all gather in closing for blessings, prayers and goodbyes.
The WELL is mostly about hospitality—about being the church with and for one another.
All are welcome!
We gather for a potluck supper for our next planning meeting!
To learn more about The WELL, please read our first blog post about it.
Arlene Decina is the Director of Spiritual Growth Ministries at Burke Presbyterian Church in Northern Virginia.