Last Sunday a group of adults and children gathered in the RE 4 to continue working on the giant masks for this year’s Christmas pageant. One of our youngest UUs joined an adult in choosing colorful ribbons and gluing them to the horn of the Unicorn mask. At another table, a group of children and adults with the help of local puppeteer Jennifer Murphy created another mask. They used balls of newspaper held together by packing tape to mold the face of an old wise man which they covered with strips of paper saturated in paper maché paste. As I observed everyone creating, laughing and conversing I thought about how what I was witnessing exemplified multigenerational community building. Yes, multi-generational; all ages together. Other activities like the talent show or group singing in the tree house at The Mountain during this year’s October congregational retreat in which all ages gathered, cheered each other on and sang together also contribute to building multigenerational community. They help us get to know each other and appreciate the diverse needs we each have as we participate in the life of our congregation.
We are making progress in working together to dismantle the “upstairs, downstairs divide” between children and adults. I am grateful that UUCA is willing to take on this challenge. This divide meant faith formation for children usually occurred downstairs in the RE Commons. For adults, it happened upstairs in worship or adult programs. More frequent whole congregation services provide opportunities for all ages to engage in faith formation through the practice of communal worship. Children receive the message that worship is for them, too, and they witness the rituals, songs, and rhythms of worship. There may also be more opportunities for all ages movement or clapping to accompany stories, songs or meditations. I invite you to experiment and “do when the spirit says do.”
At times the energy level and engagement of our youngest UUs may be distracting. And, yet they are a reminder of the gift of the children’s presence among us. The discomfort we may feel is normal and a reminder that the work of inclusivity calls us to de-center our individual needs so that all of us may share the worship space. This can be challenging and is part of the process of faith formation.
Opportunities for multigenerational connection also occur during weekly Wednesday Thing programming. The planning team is scheduling regular all age events such as story yoga, game nights, creative dance, art projects, and multigen choir. There are many opportunities for multigenerational engagement at UUCA that will let our children know that they are important members of our community and strengthens their UU identity.
During this month of gratitude, I am grateful to be on this journey with you. I hope you will explore how we can continue to build multigenerational community and support lifespan faith development at UUCA. I welcome opportunities to hear your ideas and feedback. I also invite you to participate in future whole congregation worship services and multigenerational programs.
If Thanksgiving is a time for celebration, may it be a joyous, delicious occasion shared with loved ones. If it is a day of mourning a loss or grieving the injustice done to native peoples know that you are held in our hearts. Below is a link to a few conversation starters that may enliven conversation around the dinner table. Enjoy!
Rev. Claudia Jiménez, Minister of Faith Development