One of the qualities of our congregation I admire is your willingness to experiment. We have been experimenting with The Wednesday Thing (this is year three!) and with multigenerational worship. These are two of the programs that generated excitement when I interviewed for my job with UUCA almost two years ago. I have updates on both.
The purpose of The
Wednesday Thing has been to create a midweek opportunity for multigenerational
community-building and spiritual growth through a shared meal, worship and
engaging programs. Much staff time and resources are allocated to making this
midweek gathering possible. This year the planning team (Kim Collins, John Bloomer,
Elizabeth Schell, Linda Topp, Winslow Tuttle, and me) has worked hard to
diversify our programs with a focus on engaging multigenerational programs such
as storytelling with David Novak, Fiber Friends knitting circle, Spiritual
Experiences with Nancy Bragg, and drumming with Will Jernigan. We are grateful
for all the volunteers who offer programs and preside at Vespers.
We have a small group of attendees each Wednesday and struggle to find hosts for the communal meal. At the last planning team meeting we discussed the value of this midweek program and the challenges of sustaining it. And….here it comes….we decided it is time to try something new! Starting in March—not February—in March we will offer only Vespers and Programs—no meal. Folks are welcome to bring their own food and eat in Sandburg Hall before Vespers. We will observe how this works as we continue to explore ways to create spaces for fellowship, fun, learning, and worship beyond Sunday mornings. Your thoughts and feedback are enthusiastically welcomed and encouraged. We are proud of our programming and hope that some or all of these will entice you to attend:
- February 5: Storytelling with David Novak; Earth Community Circle’s Invitation to Green Sanctuary Projects
- February 12: Peacemakers’ Book Study – An Indigenous People’s History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar- Ortiz
- February 19: The Story of the UU Chalice Design with Jerry McLellan and Chris VanWandelen
- February 26: Black History Trivia with Brett Johnson
- March 25: Hidden Faces of Asheville: Exploring Asheville’s Hidden and Not So Hidden Racial History with local educator Betts Conti
- April 29: Odyssey Interview: Rev. Ward
Multigenerational worship is another area of experimentation. I appreciate serving a congregation that understands participation in worship to be an important part of faith formation for our children. It allows them to learn to be part of our faith community and learn the songs, rituals, and cadences of worship. Multigenerational worship is an invitation for us to honor our differences and support our children in developing their “worship skills.”
I also acknowledge that crafting a multigenerational service is challenging. How does one craft worship that nourishes the spiritual needs of all ages? It isn’t easy, but it IS doable. I have received feedback about the things that work and those that don’t. I am reaching out to colleagues to discuss best practices and will be visiting our congregation in Oakridge, TN to observe one of their Whole Church services.
After meeting with RE staff and listening to your feedback (This is an ad: There will be more opportunities for feedback at the RE Town Hall after both services February 2nd!), we will experiment with offering Multigenerational Services for children in grades 3 and above with extended childcare. Whole Church services with childcare for PreK and younger will be crafted to be shorter, with more music and embodiment as well as content that appeals to adults and children.
So we begin experimenting! For the remainder of the year we will have two Multigenerational worship opportunities (3rd grade and above) on February 23, our YRUU Service led by our youth group and May 17, the service where our Coming of Age youth share their credos. There will also be two Whole Church services (childcare for preK and younger) on March 8 for Celebration Sunday and April 19 for Earth Day/Flower Communion.
Mark your calendars and join us in this ongoing experiment in Faith Development.
Rev. Claudia Jimenez, Minister of Faith Development