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What is Multigenerational?

Rev. Carol Bodeau, Minister

Dear Friends,

A big thank you to all of you for approving a congregational budget for next year, and for all the hard work you did this year to make Westside stronger, healthier and more sustainable. As you may have heard at the recent congregational meeting, or read in the information provided by the Board and Committee on Ministry for that meeting, we are turning our attention towards making Westside a strong, sustainable Pastoral size congregation in the coming year. And, as part of that commitment, we have begun to focus specifically on the ways we can become a truly ‘multigenerational’ community. But what does that mean?

Most of us know that a ‘multigenerational’ worship service means that the children don’t have Religious Education classes, but instead stay in the sanctuary for the whole service. This is a good start, but is just the barest beginning of being a truly multigenerational community. In a truly multigenerational community, all areas of congregational life—worshipping, learning, and fellowship—are structured in ways that integrate people of all ages in all aspects of church functioning. And this doesn’t just mean connecting “kids” with “adults”—intentionally multigenerational communities recognize that there are more stages of life: children, youth, young adults, older adults, elders. There are many, many ways to accomplish the goal of recognizing and connecting all of us, and some of you have already shared creative possibilities. Some popular ways we’ve done this in the past include: Mystery Friends, the Multigenerational Mentors program, having youth participate in the music of the services, and having adults and youth travel together on summer learning trips. But we can do so much more!

In many churches, being truly multigenerational means having worship always be multigenerational, and then having “RE” time be for all ages—in other words, everyone goes to worship together, then everyone goes to classes (some for children, some for youth, some for adults) at the same time after coffee hour. Many churches ensure that each committee has members who are children and/or youth, and often children and youth are the center of attention for leadership development activities. Other possible ways to make our community more multigenerational might include expanding the way we do informal meals and social gatherings, to make sure people of all ages are included more intentionally. Or purposefully pairing people of different ages—children, youth, young adults, and older adults—in learning opportunities. And I’m sure there are so many more ways you can think of to help us connect with one another, across differences of age and experience.

In the coming months, we’ll be working on creating a more truly multigenerational way of being in the areas of worship (including trying out some creative worship formats that are more familiar and inviting to younger families), Religious Education (including more opportunities for adult RE), fellowship, and committee structure and church leadership. The Board, the Committee on Ministry and I would love to hear your ideas for fun ways to do this great work. So please let us know what you think.

And have a lovely summer, Rev. Carol

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