Joy Berry: Learning Together – An All Ages Sunday School Class?

JoyBerry-blog

I often hear parents talk about how much they would like to have more time with their kids. Sometimes, church can get in the way of that. I have a few families currently whose younger kids attend service with parents – which I think is great. And we know that children and other adults in their communities – like extended family, neighbors, and church friends – spend less time together than ever. Many grandparents and grandchildren live far apart, a fact we have come to accept in the post-modern world that is a relatively new phenomenon in human history. For the vast majority of human experience, young and old people, even those not directly related, have learned and lived side by side.

What are we missing when we don’t make space for multigenerational community? What could we gain by doing so?

We know that church is one of the last places in our culture where multigenerational community is still possible, with people of all ages under one roof at one time. Possible, I say, but that’s not always the case. Worship provides a powerful way to share in multigenerational community, and one way that is particularly good at reminding us we are a community, but the opportunity for interaction during worship is relatively low.

Here is another opportunity for sharing faith development together: a regular RE class that is multigenerational. The Unitarian Universalist Association has developed classes meant for children age eight and up and adults of all ages. Parents could attend with children, or not, and non-parent adults could also attend. Everyone would still have a chance to attend worship during the second service, so one wouldn’t have to miss the sermon. If offered at 9:15, it would expand the program offerings for 6th-12th grade youth, who currently only have classes offered at 11:15. All adults would have a background check, and teachers would be skilled in a multi-age learning atmosphere. Participants would still attend Time for All Ages and Multigenerational worship with the whole congregation.

Would this work for you or your family? Perhaps you would be interested in teaching? Classes under consideration are an eight-session “Wisdom from Hebrew Scriptures” course and an eight-session “Miracles” course, one after the other as a single, year-long class.

I believe a set of classes that explore a few seminal biblical stories from our Judeo-Christian heritage, followed by an exploration of wonder and awe – miracles, from our unique UU perspective – would be a compelling way to dig deeper into faith development with adults, parents and kids. And I believe we all benefit from spending time with our elders and with children.

There is so much to learn from each other, if we make time and space to be together in our faith community.

If such a class interests you, how likely would you be to attend on Sunday morning, at the first service? Do you have any thoughts/questions you’d like to share as I think about offering the class? See curricula descriptions below.

Miracles
A miracle: An unexpected event or revelation that brings an outcome one has hoped for, perhaps yearned for, perhaps despaired of, perhaps never even imagined. Whatever one believes about how or why it occurs, responding to a miracle with wonder and awe is entirely appropriate.

This eight-session program invites a prolonged encounter with awe and wonder. Stories from our Unitarian Universalist Sources and hands-on activities engage a wide age span of participants to discern miracles, experience and express awe and wonder, and discover their own agency for miracle-making. Participants make a uniquely Unitarian Universalist inquiry—a religious search which simultaneously embraces the awesome truth of a miracle’s mystery and the “how and why” of rational explanation. Participants explore different kinds of miracles, from the awesome, ordered beauty of Earth and all life on it, to their own capacity to transform themselves and others to bring forth love and justice.

Wisdom from Hebrew Scriptures
This program offers multigenerational workshops based on eight stories from the Hebrew scriptures. Some of these stories are well-known and others less so. Some have been told to children in Sunday school classes and Hebrew school for generations; others will be unknown even to some adults. Some of those narratives fit well with contemporary Unitarian Universalist values and others are more challenging in both the theology and the values expressed. All of these stories offer wisdom that can help people of all ages growth in spiritual depth and understanding.