by Sarah Ahrens, Director of Family Ministry
First, I would like to thank UUCWC for such a warm welcome this summer as I began in the role of Director of Family Ministry. It’s been a busy few months preparing for a return to programming for all of our children and youth. As we embark on a new year, you may see some changes…such as updated classrooms and communication platforms. We are also looking to enhance the ways in which we worship, to be more welcoming and inclusive to our members of all ages.
To that end, we are introducing the Rainbow Principles of Multigenerational Ministry, which have been based on our UU Principles. Over the next few months, we will be talking about this during Sunday services, and we’ll be rolling out some exciting new initiatives that will deepen worship engagement for all. In the meantime, we invite you to explore what it means to welcome and worship in a beloved, multigenerational community!
RED – Respect all people
• Children and youth are valued and welcomed as important members of our faith community where they are loved and accepted.
• Introduce yourself and your family to those around you to widen the welcome.
• Greet children, youth, and adults by name when possible. Congregants of all ages should wear a name tag to make acknowledgement and recognition easier.
• Make an extra effort to connect with children and youth by name before, during, and after worship so that they feel as included and respected as the adults.
ORANGE – Offer fairness and kindness to all
• Infants through elders are welcome in the sanctuary at all times. If families choose, they can take advantage of the Child Care room off of the lobby. It may take a few tries before a younger child can sit through an entire service and that’s perfectly alright. (Note: audio feed of the service is available in the child care room).
• Families with children are encouraged to sit where it feels most comfortable for them. It’s recommended to use the restroom facilities and get settled as early as possible before the service.
• Sitting towards the front of the sanctuary can make it easier for children to see the action and feel more involved.
• Choosing the end of a row can make any necessary exits during service easier.
• There is extra wiggle room at the back of the sanctuary for anyone of any age who may need more space to move around or stretch out.
• Families may need to come and go from the sanctuary to attend to children’s needs. Offer understanding and welcome upon their return.
• Have patience and consideration for those of any age who are challenged by sitting for a lengthy time. Be accepting of any disruptions which may arise from those trying to get comfortable and be at ease.
YELLOW – Yearn to learn together
• Worship can be an opportunity for the entire congregation to be involved in the spiritual growth and development of its children and youth. Help them to understand how different aspects of the service support the UUCWC mission.
• Children learn “worship etiquette” by participation – feel free to whisper helpful explanations to children about various aspects of the service, or challenging words in readings and music. Share your own positive feelings about the service elements.
• Offer children their own hymnal (or share at their eye level). Help them to identify parts of the service, follow along with the music, and participate as fully as possible. Whisper each line before it’s sung/read to help them with songs or responses.
• Congregants of all ages are welcomed to engage in the multisensory activities found in our “Wisdom & Wonder in Worship” kits. For many, focus on learning is easy when hands are busy. —* Stay tuned for more! This initiative will be rolled out later in the fall.
GREEN – Grow by searching for what is true
• Participants of all ages engage in worship as part of their own free and responsible search for truth and meaning. Consider asking children and youth what they learned or appreciated about the service.
• Talk about worship and monthly themes at home during the week. This reinforces the messages that are shared on Sundays, and helps everyone to deepen their understanding.
• As a family, discuss the Milestones shared that week, or consider milestones to share at the next service.
BLUE – Believe in yourself and voice your vote
• During Milestones, please support children and youth if they wish to share a significant joy or concern. What may seem trivial to adults can be monumental for them, so be sure their voice can be heard.
• During discussions and interactive elements, engage children and youth as serious and constructive participants. They have much to share that is valuable for all to hear.
INDIGO – Insist on peace, freedom, and justice for all
• Help children and youth to understand how the offering, and other aspects of the service, support the UUCWC mission.
• Allow children and youth to place the offerings in the basket, or encourage them to participate by sharing their own financial resources.
VIOLET – Value our interdependence with all life
• Multigenerational worship strengthens all the connections within our congregation.
• Being a part of an interdependent faith community means we must all exercise grace, patience, and nurturing love.