As First Day School teachers, one of the richest resources for us is the accumulated faith experience of seasoned Friends. Their stories of God's comfort, guidance, and leadings make compelling listening. Helping our children to grow up to be committed, passionate Quakers requires finding concrete ways for intergenerational faith-sharing to occur.
Planning a multigenerational retreat is a balancing act. Children and adults need time with their peers to be balanced with the amount of time they spend together. The activities that include all generations need to strike a balance between seriousness and levity, and should be fun, engaging and meaningful. The activity content needs to be presented in a way that can be understood on multiple levels. This way the youngest children who think in concrete terms and the older abstract-thinking participants can all dive into it.
It can be of considerable benefit to carefully consider how one plans and announces different classes or forums within the life of the meeting. Often, the leaders will pick the date, time, and location of a class and then announce the details to the meeting. It can be useful and appropriate to have certain conventions for when these types of activities usually take place, such as monthly forums after meeting for worship, or bi-weekly Friday evenings after potluck. This regularity can encourage more consistent participation within the meeting.
Most Friends are familiar with the use of queries and discussion questions in adult religious education settings but might not be accustomed to wondering with adults. All three tools are valuable, but sometimes one is more appropriate than the others for a given topic or setting. A mix of discussion questions, queries, and wonderings can add interest and depth to a session. Experience will help the facilitator know when to use which tool.
This method is an adaptation of lectio divina, a method used for many centuries in the monastic Christian tradition. Below is an outline of this adaptation. Using this method takes about 15 to 30 minutes for an individual, or 30 to 50 minutes for a group. Groups should probably be no larger than a dozen people; divide as needed. If using this method with a group, a facilitator will need to be timekeeper and guide throughout the process.
With outlines for experiential and informational/lecture-based learning.
Prepared by Sita Diehl, Nashville Meeting, SAYMA; Sallie Jones, Birmingham Meeting, PHLYM; Sally Lawson, Fredonia Meeting, NYYM; and Michael Gibson, FGC RE Coordinator, 2010.
The Quaker Parenting Project, a working group of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, has given birth to a range of programs that address the interests and needs of parents and add another focus for adult religious education. Programs of workshops, resources and discussion series now include: Parenting Creatively in a Quakerly Manner; Quaker Beliefs, Values, and Practices as Guides to Our Parenting; Raising Quaker Children in a non-Quaker World and Integrating Quaker Values into Family Life.
Central to Evanston Meeting's approach to adult religious education has been finding a variety of ways to nurture new attenders and longtime members. As a meeting toward the larger end of the Quaker spectrum (around 60 to 70 worshipping on an average Sunday) it is important to find a variety of ways of entering and growing in the life of the meeting community.
You can use this resource and others to help support your meeting.
What a challenge our form of worship is for children! Even if you just consider the visuals--"still forms on every side"--it looks like a room full of adults either falling asleep or being punished with a "time out!" How can children be helped to feel the depth, the quickening, the opportunity to encounter God that draws us together?