Is it really possible that we have been a virtual church for a whole year? Is it also possible that our community has experienced the challenges of a lifetime condensed into that one year? One of my sons asked me couple of months ago if I had ever experienced anything like this in my lifetime. I answered “definitely not.”
So what does that mean to me? One of the meanings is that he and I experienced a pandemic simultaneously FOR THE FIRST TIME for both of us. Though we couldn’t really be together (he is 31 and living on his own), I do believe it’s created a bond that would not have otherwise occurred. For me, it changes the relevance of his input in our conversations. I couldn’t rely on my life experience to suggest how he could make it easier on himself as he dealt with a pandemic’s many challenges. We both had to “figure it out” with little experience to support our individual decisions. Yes, we had different challenges in our daily lives. Yes, we each have different resources to work with, but we both had to think outside the box. There was no map to follow, and the respective roads ahead of us kept changing.
Yes I have more years of general life experiences but I have found myself valuing the perspective of his fresh eyes as I look at the future ahead. I see him regularly adapting to the constantly changing world of his work world and private life. He has to to survive.
I’m inspired by his seemingly natural ability to adapt. I’m inspired by the ability of the Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z to adapt. I think many of my generation of Boomers thought those endless hours of playing video games had likely numbed the younger generations’ minds so that they wouldn’t be able to function. It doesn’t appear that is the case. I’m proud of what I see our young people doing.
I also see that as we exit the pandemic tunnel we need their fresh eyes. Many of them haven’t lived “in the box” so don’t have to learn how to think outside of it. They have a pretty good idea of what they need. They have a pretty good idea of what they want. Yes, they are still growing and learning but I’m thinking my role is to get out of the way and let that happen. I’m not saying my generation should step aside and abandon them. I’d like to support their growth. I’d like to hear what they have to say. I’d like to invite them to participate. I’d like for them to believe that their opinion matters AND see that my generation is paying attention to what they have to say.
Last Fall your Board of Trustees chose as one of it’s goals:
BOARD GOAL #3: Integrate and Encourage Participation of our Children and Youth in All that We Do
To help you further understand my hope for a shift in how we connect with our youth, I am posting here an excerpt of this month’s board report from amanda alice uluhan, our Director of Religious Education:
In conversation with children in religious education, we talked about stewardship at East Shore. These questions were posed: What do you and can you do to contribute to well being of the church? What can the church offer you and what is important that we do here?
Here are some responses. Let’s talk more about how we can make some of these ideas manifest!
- Teaching each other things we care about, like Minecraft, meditation, and music
- We can help the church and the earth by working on being peaceful people and learning how to do this with each other
- People can give what money they can. This is called “tithing.” Do you guys know that word?
- We need a bus – a church bus – so we can go to things together, like the snowshoeing we just did.
- I think the bus should be yellow like a school bus
- The bus should be purple.
- What about a rainbow bus-like our principles? ROYGBIV (8 principles!)
- We could work on outings so that we are doing more things together.
- In real life social distant activities
- RE can help us by being in the garden
- help clean them up
- Planting plants with worms and lady bugs insects into the garden to make it healthy
- help with growing things
- Help with Zoom meetings
- Help clean the buildings
- A video game room
- A quiet room
- Kid friendly library – library cards
- Little Free Libraries (like they are around Seattle), we could have one at church too
- Can someone build a little free library for the church?
- International night – daytime –
- different booths and rooms about different places
- every class can have a different country, and learn about them as well as eat different food
I hope you see and support my message. We, as a community religious organization need to further integrate our youth into East Shore’s organizational structure. amanda and the RE organization are doing a great job.
We can and should shift our thinking about how we connect with our youth. It will be a win/win outcome.
- We will attract innovative ideas,
- We will attract families to our congregation
- We will make progress toward meeting the needs of the community that surrounds us
- AND we will have fun doing it !!
————————————East Shore Youth Rock !!!——————————
This year’s first Youth & Family Snowshoe Outing
by Mark Norelius, Board Trustee