This past weekend was a deep dive into UUCA activities for me, from being on the Search Committee for our new Minister of Faith Development, to the leadership event for this year’s annual budget drive. And sandwiched in between was a day of workshops focusing on faith development as a multigenerational endeavor facilitated by Connie Goodbread, Co-Lead of the UUA Southern Region. We had a terrific time working with the question, “How do our children and adults really get to know each other?”
The morning workshop was for RE Council. The faces were familiar, dedicated volunteers who have been serving together due to our vested interest in religious education programming at UUCA. The afternoon workshop consisted of approximately 25 congregants, about half of whom are actively parenting children and half are either non-parents or parents of grown children. Being a part of this diverse group was thrilling. We were experiencing/creating multigenerational faith development together at that moment just by being present with each other.
Connie focused the group by having us list our desires for the workshop. We wanted to share our ideas, feel heard, know what is working at the multigenerational activities we currently offer at UUCA, what other congregations are doing, what being truly multigenerational would look and feel like, and how do our children and adults really get to know each other?
Connie reminded us that this workshop is covenantal just as creating multigenerational community is covenantal. She explained that covenant means we choose to come together with the commitment of loving one another through the process. As we discussed needs, got curious about possibilities and expressed concerns, our humanness showed up. Some people need more boundaries/clarity around how children will participate within our community while others desire direct support and involvement from our “elders.” We all agreed that parenting and including children in traditionally adult spaces has changed over the decades. The moments of tension, desires to be heard, were held gracefully within the framework of covenant. It was so clear that everyone in the room cared deeply about understanding one another and creating a collective vision for connecting all generations in our unified faith development.
As the workshop ended there was clarity about a few goals. All voices supported moving forward with making UUCA a multigenerational faith community where adults and children grow in relationship and faith together. There was agreement that protecting the safety of our children is paramount and that the guidelines to provide that safety needs to be a collaborative conversation so that parents and all congregants can support them. There was agreement that this is uncharted territory not only for UUCA but for the UU community as a whole, and that we have taken action, we are experiencing success, we are on the path to worshiping, playing, learning and growing together multigenerationally.
The questions that remain are “how do we do this” and “how does it look and feel” being a multi-generational congregation? My guess is we will only know this as we walk in this process together, in covenant. With multiple generations comes multiple voices, multiple needs, multiple visions, multiple concerns. Some days I get exactly what I want. Some days a compromise may be more on my shoulders to offer. Some days I may partially have my needs met. Some days compromise will be for others to offer. Some days I will allow other’s needs to be fully met while I stand by, supporting them. The beauty of covenant is that we all agree to be in it together with love for each other and the process. What a gift to give ourselves, from the youngest to the oldest congregant.
Kelly Wedell, member of UUCA’s Religious Education Council