Pastoral Letter (April 2019)
from Claire Knight
Some of you will be aware that in January, I was blessed to be able to spend a week at Cliff College, the Methodist College in Derbyshire. I was attending a short course 'Certificate in Family Ministry' which will lead (once I have completed the assignments) to a level 4 qualification and help me to lead us to become a truly intergenerational church.
We were fortunate enough to have been tutored by Gail Adcock Head of Family Ministry for the Connexion. You may recall I went to a Symposium in Connecticut with Gail in 2016. Gail shared with us a lot of her pioneering work towards making the entire Methodist Church Intergenerational, so we are privileged to have her guidance as we endeavour to take steps along this road.
Intergenerational is a bit of a 'buzz' word at the moment, but what does it really mean? Some might imagine we are already intergenerational as we have activities and worship for people of different ages through our Sunday services, Craft @ 4, Toddlers, Chaos, Alzheimer's Café and Jesus Crew (along with many more), but do these groups bring our Church together as one? Or are we merely catering for different generations by sectioning them off to do their own thing?
Before I took on my role in the Church nearly eight (yes eight!) years ago, my children then 10 and 7 had lost both of their Grandfathers within a fairly short space of time. They were close to both of them and one of their legacies was having taught both of them to ride a bike! Since then, I have been very grateful for the times of sharing across the generations within our Church. There are several people who have provided this role model to the girls, helping with homework, sharing in crafts and spending time with them. We can often dismiss ourselves as 'too old', 'too young' or 'too tired' to be getting involved with the other generations but actually being intergenerational and sharing with others can simply be being ourselves, taking time to be in a relationship with others and sharing God's love. We can only do this by being together, not separating ourselves and considering one thing to be for 'them' and not for 'us'. You may have watched the television programme 'Old People's Home for 4 Year Olds' this is an amazing example of two very different generations interacting and responding to each other in astounding ways.
As part of my assignment, I have read an interesting book 'Families and Faith'. This book has researched how faith is passed down through generations and what influences whether a child, adolescent and adult remains or indeed leaves the religion of their upbringing. A very interesting read!
We are often seeking to be challenged by God through our worship. Perhaps for now our call is not to be challenged by what we are using in our worship but if fact how we worship? Sometimes it might be that our discipline as worshipping Christians is to take part in things that take us out of our comfort zone, to sing a song we haven't sung before, to watch something that we have never seen before or to interpret the gospel in a different way or even o a different day!
I am very much feeling called to do more with this and am sure that God is working through the Church in this way. I am excited to see how by embracing these differences instead of working against them, we can build a firm foundation for years to come.
Church & Community Outreach Team Leader