Oct. 15, 2018.

By Intern Minister Pippin Whitaker.

As part of my final year of seminary work, I am launching an intergenerational community building project this year at UUCF. I call the project Youth-Adult Liquid Leadership, or Y’ALL for short. I grew up in Mississippi and am a fan of the plural “you,” so I love getting to use it a bunch this year. But I digress.

The Y’ALL project is designed to promote even more intergenerational connection and collaboration in our community. The project includes support for congregational leaders on strategies for youth-adult-elder collaboration, exploring why our generations relate as they do, and intergenerational worship.

The Y’ALL worship services are thoroughly intergenerational. They begin with an intergenerational team that meets weeks ahead of time to brainstorm the worship service and what the worship theme means to them. After planning the service, the team (and others) collaborate on a worship service, led by multiple generations, that expresses the perspectives and hopes of all these generations.

The first of these innovative services was on Oct. 7 on the theme of Sanctuary. People from Grade 5 through adulthood co-led the service, with five different generations participating in and planning the service. Each of us shared something deeply meaningful to us about how we find or give sanctuary. Toward the end of the service, the congregation helped us create a symbol of how we create sanctuary together. We used plastic building bricks to symbolize this, and the picture here is of what we created in the second service.

One thing we learned in creating this symbol in the first and second services was about what we gain by coordinating our efforts to build the future. In the first service, everyone came up to add to the construction on their own. What we made was a powerful symbol, but it was disjointed in a few places. It was also difficult for some people who hadn’t built with LEGOs recently to piece them together. But we learned from this! In the second service, we asked for volunteers with recent LEGO experience to take on our bricks. What resulted was a powerful metaphor of handing on our symbols of sanctuary to a new generation – a generation that lovingly honored what we brought and created an interconnected symbol of sanctuary!

The Y’ALL worship team is deeply grateful for the powerful learning that we did as a community. How can we take this lesson forward into our lives? How can we take our gifts and hopes and entrust them to our future builders? We could not have realized the power of these questions without you. I wonder, what will we learn together in the next Y’ALL service on Nov. 25? Please join us to find out and help create our future.

As we meet to plan the next Y’ALL service, the worship planning team welcomes your thoughtful feedback on how you experienced the Oct. 7 service. The planning team is especially interested in learning how the service may have allowed you to hear from people of different generations. If you have a moment to reflect on your experience, please email or call me at 703-281-4230 (I’m in on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but I’ll catch my email any day).

UUCF already has many intergenerational strengths, which is why the Y’ALL project is such a good fit here. UUCF is poised to succeed in new ways in intergenerational community building. Thus, the Y’ALL project will continue exploring ways to enliven and enrich our community this year. The Y’ALL services are scheduled for Nov. 25, Feb. 17 and Apr. 14. I know some of these are holiday weekends, but I hope you can join us. This community needs you. Our future needs you!