Wendy Claire Barrie
Trinity Church Wall Street
New York, NY
In each edition of GenOn Connect, we will ask someone the same two questions about intergenerational ministry: “What keeps you up at night?” and “What gets you up in the morning?”
What keeps you up at night?
Having worked with kids my entire professional life, I am utterly convinced that adults benefit as much or more from being in relationship with kids as kids benefit from relationships with significant adults. What keeps me awake at night is how to convince other adults that this is so: that their own faith will be strengthened and expanded, and yes, challenged, when they are in meaningful conversation and contact with young people, that their own lives will be enriched by including and incorporating children and youth in every aspect of church life. I am particularly concerned that clergy and leadership need to be convinced that this is so, because the age-segregated model of Christian formation increasingly does not work. Steam shoots out of my ears whenever I hear someone say that children are the future of the church: they are the church right now, and we can learn to follow Jesus by following their lead.
What gets you up in the morning?
I am lucky to be in a congregation that has jumped into the deep end of the intergenerational pool! We have a joyful, lively intergenerational worship service every Sunday that is followed by a program we call Whole Community Learning. Each week, peer groups meet to explore the same year-long theme and seasonal topics. Once a month or so, everyone from 2nd grade to 102 comes together to learn from one another. We started in October 2018, and there’s a fantastic team of congregants and staff who brainstorm what this looks like, because of course it changes as we try new things and hear from participants about what’s most meaningful to them. I’m excited by our deepening relationships and collaborations, and by how we are beginning to think collectively about what the kingdom of God looks like and how we—all of us—help bring it about.
Wendy Claire Barrie has served seven Episcopal congregations, large and small, on both coasts, since 1989 in children, youth and family ministries, and is currently responsible for Family Formation at Trinity Church Wall Street. She’s the author of Faith at Home: A Handbook for Cautiously Christian Parents (Church Publishing, 2016) and is at work on her next book, tentatively titled The Church Post-Sunday School: How to Be Intergenerational, and Why it Matters.
Other GenOn Connect March-April 2019 articles