The weekly Wednesday vespers service at seminary was a true family affair: students and faculty, along with respective partners and spouses and children of varying ages. It was a new experience for Jess and me. We’d grown used to our UU congregation where there was nursery care and RE during the service — kids downstairs and grownups up above in the sanctuary. We needn’t have worried. Once we explained to Brandon and Nora (who were 6 and 3 at the time) what it meant to sit in church with the grownups, they took to weekly worship as if it were a natural thing. They grew to know many of the songs by heart, they knew when to sit and stand, and they could always snuggle in one of our laps if the sermon made them fidgety. Vespers was for them as much as it was for the grownups. They belonged to the community and it belonged to them.
That sense of ownership was on full display especially once the service was over and the fellowship hour had begun. Snacks were laid out, juice and wine were poured, and everyone milled about in conversation — including my kids, who flitted about having brief checkins with my classmates and teachers, often with that “little kid serious” look on their faces that is at once adorable and gives a parent pause. And then, conversations finished, they would climb up onto the chancel and sit in the pulpit chairs with their snack plates in their laps and just watch the community as it did its thing. The first time that happened, I knew that they had arrived at a place where they felt comfortable and safe in a community. There they were, week after week (and in the years to come, shepherding the new kids who arrived into that same space), embodying what it meant to feel like one truly belonged to community and felt some sense of ownership of and responsibility toward it.
This Sunday, we take a look at why a real multi-generational community is so vital to the future of church. Join us at 10:30 a.m. for “A Time and Place for All Ages.”