RE-flections from Carol


Rev. Carol Bodeau, Director of Religious Education dre@westsideuuc.org

Westside UU Church is what we call a “multigenerational” community. You’ll hear us use that term to describe some of our worship services, the ones in which the children and youth remain in the sanctuary for the whole service, rather than heading off to Religious Education classes. We used to call this “intergenerational worship” but naming trends change, and the currently popular term is “multigenerational.” But what exactly does that mean?

To me, being a multigenerational community means that we do not segregate our congregation or our community by age. Too often, children have one community (in the RE classrooms), youth have another (in their youth group room), and the adults have their own experience in the sanctuary. This means that while we may have moments that intersect, we essentially separate ourselves not only on Sunday mornings but, by default, at other times as well. Consciously choosing to be a multigenerational community means that we integrate all ages into all aspects of church life. And it means sometimes stepping out of our comfort zones to experience things in a way that matches another generation’s experiences.

At Westside, we try to practice this intention of being multigenerational by regularly including the children and youth in our worship services. But we also go well beyond that. Here are just a few things that have been happening this year (and going forward) that allow us to be truly “multigenerational”:

  • We have had a 5 month long Coming of Age program which paired youth with adult mentors to explore values and ethics.

  • We had a winter Mystery Friends program in which children and adults paired up to exchange messages and tokens of fun and appreciation.

  • Youth led a recent worship service about Coming of Age, and will be hosting another service on July 5th, following their trip to Washington, DC.

  • A youth-adult team have started a new “Close the Generation Gap” group that will team up youth as mentors to our church elders (that means grandparent-age adults) to learn about technology, pop culture and other youth-oriented things.

Of course, each of these age groups appreciates time to themselves, with their own peers. But we also benefit from the wonderful times we spend together, learning from one another and sharing our experiences. If you have ideas for a multigenerational activity or project, please let me know!

Rev. Carol


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Westside Unitarian Universalist Church

616 Fretz Road

Knoxville, TN 37934

(865) 777-9882

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