“If we want to rediscover human joy and wholeness and creativity, and to learn to care for our planetary household as one earth family, we cannot continue to insulate adults and children from each other. Children need to be present to us, and we to them.” – Elise Boulding
My first visit to a local meeting as Youth Engagement Coordinator was in December, when I was invited to speak at Salem Quarterly Meeting on the topic of nurturing multigenerational spiritual community. Friends of all ages gathered at Woodbury Friends Meeting for introductions and the program “All Together Now,” which began with an activity to explore images, stories, and themes we encounter during the winter holiday season. After playing “silent squares” together, younger Friends transitioned to their program with Gail Scuderi, where they continued to explore their responses to the activity through art. Older Friends gathered to discuss how the whole meeting community can support children’s spiritual lives, including how to create multigenerational programs in a local meeting. The younger Friends returned from their program for the last part of worship together with the community.
The program was filmed, and you can watch it in the video linked below, which is now part of the Salem Quarter podcast series, “Clearly Quaker.” Some main points lifted up in the message:
- Affirmation that spiritual formation is a life-long journey.
- When a new family with children comes to a meeting, we need to attend to three kinds of needs: the spiritual formation/religious education of the children, parents who are seekers themselves, and the family’s hope for a faith home.
- Let’s make a place for young Friends in our worship; there is a place at this table for them.
- Spiritual community with their peers in a First Day program is vital as well — with a balance of informational and experiential learning. (The “kids table!”)
- Our children need authentic relationships with adults other than their parents or primary caregivers.
In these places, adults can find ways to be fully present to children. Boulding also wrote, “To be a good futurist is to be a good listener to the young, who see shapes on the horizon that older folks miss.”
I encourage you to visit the Salem Quarter website and explore the wonderful podcast series, “Clearly Quaker”. You’ll find Friends speaking on a variety of topics, sharing their truth, witness, and demonstrating our living faith!
Melinda Wenner Bradley, Youth Engagement Coordinator