Christ Memorial Presbyterian in Columbia, Maryland holds regular intergenerational gatherings we call GIFT (Generations In Faith Together) in addition to Wednesday evening LOGOS. GIFT has included meals, biblically themed discussions, and activities (like GenOn’s LIFT), service projects (like massive meal packing events), and off-site trips (like to Sight & Sound Theater). Due to a major church renovation and more than two years of Covid, we struggled to hold GIFT “regularly,” so it was certainly time for a fall GIFT event. We turned to GenOn’s God’s World in Community: Creation Care for a holy hike.
The holy hike comes from God’s World: Creation Care’s session titled “Land” with key verses Psalm 115:15-16. “May you be blessed by the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth! The highest heaven belongs to the Lord, but God gave the earth to all people.” The hike is the Creation Enjoyment response activity. The Creation Care option in this session is to start a compost bin.
We scouted out a local trail a few miles from the church that was relatively flat, shady, and had options for distances to be walked. Publicity went out about a month ahead of time with lots of reminders and prayers for good weather. We started in the church parking lot on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in October. Four volunteers of various ages read the session’s scripture introduction, Psalm passage, encouragement for fully experiencing the hike, and a prayer. Then we drove to the trailhead where we shared information on the distance choices for multiple levels of mobility and endurance (always with a walking buddy).
We all started together but soon drifted into smaller conversation groups, walking at different paces. Some hiked the full 3-mile course and others turned around sooner--all good. I walked with a seventh grader I’ve known since she was in preschool, and we chatted about cats vs dogs (cats, of course) and math vs reading (reading, of course). The conversation fed me! I think we all did as instructed, and took time to fully experience the sights, sounds, and feels of nature. And of God. And of each other.
Intergenerational ministry doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does need to be intentional for cross-age relationships to form, deepen, and develop into community. For people to naturally walk alongside others older and younger. For all to sense inclusion in the Body of Christ.
I encourage you to check out God's World collections for simple intergenerational gatherings. In addition to Creation Care, one of my favorite's is Tell Your Story (both for any time of the year) and the new one for Advent, Matthew's Story.
--Liz Perraud, GenOn Ministries Executive Director