Overwhelmingly, Unitarian Universalist faith communities want to be more inclusive of all ages, but aren’t sure how to do it. Creating intentional multigenerational communities means doing things differently. It means thinking creatively and constantly asking, are we considering the needs of all of our people? Are we able to include a wider span of ages in meaningful ways in our worship, our programs, and our community?
In 2013, over 250 UU’s from congregations and groups around the country responded to a survey on how multigenerational ministry is happening in their setting, sharing their successes and their hopes deeper multigenerational experiences. But this longing for multigenerational faith community is not new. It was identified by Judith A. Frediani and others in the visioning process which led to today’s Tapestry of Faith curricula. In Essex Conversations, Frediani wrote:
What would a truly multigenerational congregation look like? It would be the ultimate committee of the whole: a community in which everyone is seen as teacher and learner; in which every age and stage of life is equally valued and equally supported by whatever tangible and intangible resources the community has to offer; in which every age and stage of life is allowed to contribute whatever tangible and intangible resources it has to offer; a community in which no decision is made about the life of the community—whether in the area of worship, physical plant, fundraising, budgeting, social action, the arts, education, or any other—without consideration of its impact on and opportunities for every member of the community.
Now, there are practical resources and experiences to help you and your congregation add a multigenerational “lens” to your planning. UUA.org now hosts Multigenerational Ministry web pages, a collection of how-to stories, practical ideas, and other resources to expand your congregation’s vision about what is possible in worship, learning, social action, and community building. Last year’s General Assembly program introduced workshops that allowed participants across the lifespan to experience multigenerational learning, rather than just learning about it. Topics included environmental stewardship, money and values, cultural identity, storytelling, and poetry. Evaluations showed a longing for more multigenerational experiences, both at GA and in congregations.
What is happening in your congregation? What programs, ideas, and practices have made your congregation a more effective and nurturing multigenerational faith community? 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Even better, share your experiments, successes, commitment, and passion by proposing a multigenerational workshop for GA 2016 in Columbus, OH. Who better to develop meaningful multigenerational experiences than religious educators and leaders in congregations who are already creating multigenerational magic! Check out guidelines for developing program proposals, and submit your proposal by November 2.
Check out the Intergenerational Research and Analysis on the website of the ecumenical organization, Lifelong Faith Associates.
Watch “Coming Home,” a joyful, multigenerational video from The First Unitarian Church of Rochester.
Propose a multigenerational workshop for General Assembly 2016.