Learning in Multigenerational Communities

Bridging the Generations Project at First Unitarian Rochester, NY

Photo of book group.

A multigenerational book group at the UU Church of Evanston (IL)

Bridging the Generations Project

In March of 2012, the Youth Group at First Unitarian Church of Rochester, NY held interviews with the elders of the church and captured them in a film called “Bridging Generations: Inherited Wisdom.” This series of interviews explored everything from rich past experiences to words of wisdom for the future. Read the pdf article about this project (PDF).

Multigenerational Book Club

The Unitarian Church of Evanston, IL started a book group for all ages that helped create connections. Read the UU World article about it.

Sources Suppers

Unity Church-Unitarian in St. Paul, MN created the "Sources Supper" ritual, which aims to create a deep connection with our Unitarian Universalist heritage via story telling and conversation around a common meal. The stories represent four founding events in UU history plus two key turning points in later history. The conversations occur around questions following each story. A group of eight Unitarian Universalists from First Universalist Church in Minneapolis and Unity Church-Unitarian in St. Paul developed the ritual over a four year period: Siri Anderson, Tricia Bishop, Martha Bolinger, Bill Doherty, Leah Doherty, Bob Friedman, Amy Scott, and Deborah Talen. They were assisted by the Reverend Frank Rivas and the Reverend Rob Eller-Isaacs. Bill Doherty led the project and was the principal writer. Read theUU World article about this project. The Sources Suppers are describedon their website, including a script and leader tips.

Multigenerational Small Group Ministry

At the Eno River UU Fellowship in Durham, NC, Rev. Jim Magaw developed a multigenerational small group ministry program called “ERUUF All Together.” He described the program in this way: “This program will bring together members and friends of the congregation in a family-friendly environment that facilitates deep sharing and listening to help build a community that values all its members in their diversity and in their common commitments to the greater good.”

Rev. Magaw identified five specific goals:

  1. Provide small group ministry opportunities for more people in the congregation, especially families with children, young adults, elders, newcomers, members and friends not currently involved in small groups, and anyone else who wants to make connections across groups.
  2. Facilitate deep listening and explore how to transform our lives through this practice as well as broaden the scope of our listening inside and outside the congregation.
  3. Explore issues related to “big questions” of our lives and our times; race, class, gender, age and other issues of “difference”; living as members of a covenantal religious community; families as covenantal; how to live our faith in the larger community and world.
  4. Facilitate and strengthen connections among members and friends.
  5. Deepen connections between individuals and the congregation as a whole.

The program took place monthly with the following format each time:

  • Opening worship (15 minutes) with an emphasis on participation of all and an invitation to engage with the topic of the day.
  • Small groups (1 hour, 15 minutes): Covenant group-style sharing for adults, different groups each week, separate activities for children.
  • Shared meal (1 hour), informal sharing at tables, wrap-up and invitation to next session.

The source of this information comes from "Multi-Generational Small Group Ministry" by Reverend Jim Magaw, Chapel Hill, North Carolina in the Small Group Ministry Network Journal.

Is your congregation using multigenerational ministry? How has it made a difference in your setting? How have congregants, families, or staff groups been changed through multigenerational ministry? Share your story by emailing religiouseducation@uua.org.