“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.” By Judith A. Frediani (from Essex Conversations)
What is so important about intentional multigenerational programs? One school of thought suggests that becoming more welcoming to children, whether in worship or in church activities in general, will help a church become welcoming to all people of diverse backgrounds. I have a colleague who told me, “multigenerational IS multicultural.”
So, what does it mean to be “intentional?” It means exactly what Judith points out above, decisions are made with thought to every member of the community. In many ways, East Shore is already doing this. I am proud of the education building that was built with an elevator so it is accessible to all people. We have a changing table in every gendered and gender neutral bathroom at the church. We offer events and activities throughout the year that invite people of all ages to come together.
This is what it means to be intentional. We know we want to be welcoming and having resources in place demonstrates that intention.
Being willing to “be changed by our experience…across the generations,” can only happen when the generations have multiple opportunities for gathering and connection.