God of Generations: Hymn from InterGenerate 2019

At InterGenerate 2019, we closed our event singing together a beautiful hymn honoring the gifts of the generations in our midst. The lyrics, including information on using this hymn in your own setting, is available here - please do not use without permission:

God of Generations

NICAEA ("Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!")

God of generations, we are all your children;
To your church we bring our gifts, our worship and our song.
Young and old we follow, hand in hand together:
In your great love, together we are strong.

Christ, you welcomed children, called us to be like them,
And received a boy's small gift to feed a hungry crowd.
In our church's children, may we see you working:
More than "our future"! They are faithful now.

Spirit, freely moving, giving youth a vision,
By your grace young Jeremiah heard your loving call;
Mary was a young one when she learned her mission:
Through faithful youth, you offer truth to all.

God of men and women, Helper on our journey,
You have called us in our faith to grow and to mature.
May we keep on learning, worshiping and praying,
That each new day, we'll serve you all the more.

Abraham and Sarah trusted in your promise:
Age was no condition when you gave them work to do.
Old and young we follow, hand in hand together;
At every age, Lord, we belong to you.

Biblical References: Mark 10:14; Matthew 18:3; John 6:9; Acts 2:17; Jeremiah 1:6; Luke 1:27; Genesis 17:17
Tune: John Bacchus Dykes, 1861 ("Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!")  
Text: Copyright © 1998 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
Copied from 
Gifts of Love: New Hymns for Today's Worship by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette (Geneva Press, 2000).
carolynshymns@gmail.com     New Hymns: www.carolynshymns.com/

Hymn Use Permission: Gifts of Love: New Hymns for Today's Worship by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette (Geneva Press, 2000) includes a permission note for those who own this book to use this hymn (along with the 44 other new hymns in the book) in their local church's worship services. People who do not own Gifts of Love are asked to contact Carolyn (carolynshymns@gmail.com) for permission to use the hymn and to get a copy of the hymn formatted for worship bulletin use.

Thank you for being a part of InterGenerate 2019!

InterGenerate 2019 was a beautiful success with over 200 registrants from 32 states as well as from Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. People from a broad range of Christian traditions participated: Anglican, Baptist, Catholic, Churches of Christ, Congregational, Disciples of Christ, Episcopalian, Evangelical Covenant, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Reformed, Seventh Day Adventists, and the Uniting Church of Australia. InterGenerate participants were senior pastors, professors, graduate and doctoral students, children’s ministers, youth ministers, small groups ministers, curriculum writers, worship leaders, Christian education directors, campus ministers, and other church leaders. It was a wonderfully diverse, engaged group of people passionately interested in bringing the generations together in our churches.

The goals of conference were met:

  • ministry leaders were informed, inspired, and equipped to do intergenerational ministry

  • researchers and other academics shared their findings about intergenerational ministry and encouraged one another to continue further research

  • academics and practitioners interacted with each other, creating a collaborative synergy that generated fresh intergenerational ministry implications and perspectives.

A big shout-out to our keynote speakers Theresa Cho and Jason Santos, our featured speakers, Tammy Tolman, Brenda Snailum, Joshua Mitchell, and Michael Parker—and to all the workshop and paper presenters as well as those who shared a Taste and See!

The response to the conference has been phenomenally positive with calls for another conference in 2021, which we are already planning. See below some wonderful comments from InterGenerate 2019 participants.

Holly Allen
InterGenerate Chair

Task Force members: John Roberto, Treasurer, Connecticut; Melissa Cooper, Website Manager, Florida; Olivia Updegrove, Secretary, Indiana; Shirley Carlson, California; Darwin Glassford, Michigan; Jim Merhaut, Ohio; Dawn Rundman, Minnesota; Cory Seibel, Canada; Linda Staats, Arizona

Conference Participants had a lot to say about their experience this year - take a look!

 LOVED the conference!  I left feeling so rich and full of God's presence and direction. I thought two years ago, it doesn't get any better ... BUT IT DID! I loved hearing Wes (Gallagher) present his experiment on prayer with a small group of different ages and genders! I am excited to implement that at my congregation.  It was "doable" and a great starting place. - Kathy Litzkow, Children’s Minister, Indianapolis, Indiana

Jason Santos talked about intergenerational ministry as being a “new ecclesiology.” For me, this highlights the importance of talking about “intergenerational church,” not merely “ministry.” The emphasis is on the community of believers, intentionally engaging with each other in reciprocal relationships. This will often happen within—but, importantly, not be limit to—structured gatherings, services, programs, etc. Thanks again for the conference. I look forward to many more years engaged in this intergenerational adventure together with the broad family of pracademics around the world. - Tim Beilharz, Children’s Ministry and Primary SRE Advisor, Sydney South, Australia

We were blessed to have someone join us from our church in California, truly intergenerational as we are Seniors and she is a Millennial. The three of us are on a committee at our church planning an all church retreat for this coming fall titled “All In” based on Ephesians 4. We got so many good ideas at this conference that will help shape our retreat. Thank you. - Shirley Carlson, California

I really appreciated the conference. I was one of the few campus ministers there (at least that I met) and my favorite memory was being able to sit in one of the classes and talk with a lead pastor from a different denomination and talk openly about some great ideas to get people thinking about the whole story of God in creative ways. We didn't come from the same place, speak to the same people, believe all of the same things and yet our goal was the same. It was great! - Jenna Lee, Campus minister, Cookeville, Tennessee

One of my biggest take-aways from the conference is hearing Rich Melheim say, “The Church needs the wisdom of the elder and the wonder of the child in the same sacred space.” I really loved his workshop! Thanks to the InterGenerate team for their leadership and work to make the conference happen! My two elders and I were all blown away by everything we gleaned from the conference. - Rev. Jane K. Anabe, Associate Pastor, Mechanicsburg, PA

Being at the conference was affirming. Over the past few years our church has been developing practices that combine the generations. It was great to hear from others about what they are doing because we realize that we are not alone. We are on the right path. We are in a really good place. The simple scripture that was repeated over the two days was impactful: Psalm 145:4, “Generation after generation stands in awe of your work; each one tells stories of your mighty acts.”  

I am going to repeat that verse to anyone who will listen now that we are back home. As we continue to develop discipleship relationships, expand our Sunday school offerings beyond age segregated one, make room for time when we all can be together – we now have talking points and “research” and data to back up this biblical exhortation to tell our stories to those who are around us, no matter their age. - Jenee O’Connor, Worship Ministry Associate Director, Mequon, WI

I particularly connected with the journey of Theresa Cho as there were some overlaps with my own in terms of our church communities.  During her presentation time on Wednesday morning, I was particularly taken by her reference to the book Making Room for Grace and its application to the church community. It was both a way to describe what we at my church had already been seeking to do (through periods of agreed experimentation in the life of the parish) but how we might do this better into the future. 

I was discussing this at the lunch table with a colleague when someone else shared her insight of “Universal Design.” This was one of those “accidental” learning moments that continues to resonate for me as I explore its opportunities for use within my own church congregation. - Reverend Michael Stalley, Chelmer, Queensland, Australia

Thank you for bringing so many people from so many different Christian traditions together to learn about intergenerational faith formation. My favorite moment was the last research paper presented that contrasted Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky. As someone who has been working in the field of cross+generational (my preferred term because it emphasizes the cross of Christ as the bond between the generations) faith formation for over 30 years, this presentation was very helpful and new to me. I delight in a younger generation stepping forward with research and action steps to help individuals, households, and congregations nurture the Christian faith in a cross+generational setting. - David Anderson, Milestones Ministry, Liverpool, New York

It was an absolute pleasure to be there! For me, this conference was very inspiring, and I am encouraged, with focus, as to how to step up as a leader in intergenerational ministry! - Dr. Valerie Grissom, Music Director, Shoreline, Washington

During the roundtable discussion the phrase “legitimize the conversation” was used. This really cemented for me the essence of what I am facing here in Auckland at the moment. I have to make sure that the conversation about intergenerational faith formation is not perceived as the latest Children’s Ministry band-wagon, or the flavour-of-the-month-new-thing, that will blow over in a year or so, when the next new idea takes shape. Intergenerationality is a crucial conversation for the whole Church, involving the whole Church, about the whole Church. And it is crucial, because of the impact/outcomes if we get it right, and what we stand to lose if we failed to take the conversation seriously and fail to act upon it. 

And I found it very encouraging to know that there is so much academic support for this conversation, to back up what we are saying, so we can also speak with confidence to those who seek “proof” and ask the hard “why?” questions.

And it was really helpful to hear the stories of those who had journeyed with their churches, and the impact it has made – the true life, heart-breaking, uplifting, push-through-the-pain, light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel stories.  - Jacolize Becker, Children and Family Ministries Facilitator, Auckland, New Zealand  

I've been on a thiry-year journey advocating for intergenerational formation and community. It was not widely embraced at the beginning. However, I have been in my denominational position for twenty years now and we continue to make progress. There has been greater interest and acceptance in recent years. 

Some of this is because of the studies that have been done. But I also think churches are noticing that if we do not value all generations especially the younger ones, and do not give them voice or invite then to participate in the mission and ministry of the body the church will continue to dwindle. 

What was most significant for me was others sharing their journeys. To see that there were others who have also been on this journey for a long time and a sense that the Spirit has been guiding us toward what I believe is Christ's vision for the church. 

Thanks to InterGenerate for bringing us together and enabling me to see a greater hope for the future. - Steve Burger, Director of Children, Family and Intergenerational Formation, Chicago, IL

Thank you for being a part of the inaugural InterGenerate event!

It was a beautiful success with close to 150 participants from Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and South Africa as well as from 25 states. People from a broad range of Christian traditions participated: Anglican, Catholic, Churches of Christ, Disciples of Christ, Baptist, Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Reformed, Seventh Day Adventists, the Uniting Church of Australia, and several community churches. 

Participants were senior pastors, professors, graduate and doctoral students, children’s ministers, youth ministers, small groups ministers, curriculum writers, Christian education directors, and other church leaders. 

It was a wonderfully diverse, engaged group of people passionately interested in bringing the generations together in our churches. Feedback has been, in a word, phenomenal.

Check out our Facebook page for posted responses, comments, and insights, and for updates on follow-up and opportunities to hear recordings and other insights from this first event.

Karen's Nine Reasons to Attend InterGenerate

  1. It’s just the right size. InterGenerate will be large enough to hear diverse stories and small enough to connect personally with those who are telling them.

  2. It includes a wide range of experienced presenters. I can’t wait to learn from and to swap stories with authors, ministry leaders, and others who have been nurturing growth in an intergenerational field for years. 
  3. It’s ecumenical. I’m looking forward to hearing about what is happening in intergenerational ministry in other denominations in addition to sharing what is happening in my own.
  4. The LOGOS experience. We get to gather around a table and experience a meal in LOGOS style. Yum!
  5. Lilly Lewin’s sacred spaces. I’ve experienced the sacred prayer and worship spaces set up by Lilly Lewin at other conferences and I’m looking forward to spending time in them again.
  6. What Bethany said. Faith is formed in groups where everyone belongs. I want to learn more about ways to create that kind of culture.
  7.  This video. 
  8. The price is right. For only $350.00 you get to attend all conference presentations, participate in all activities, get a free WE Event from Faith Alive Resources (valued at more than $100!) and eat FOUR delicious meals. There's also a discounted rate for Canadians (like me!)
  9. One word: Nashville.

Register today by clicking the button at the top of this page, and follow the Intergenerate Facebook page to connect with others  who want to learn  more about ways to be age inclusive communities of faith.

I can’t wait to InterGenerate. How about you?

My InterGenerate Story: Linda Staats

I was 19 years old and a campus ministry student when asked to lead my small congregation’s VBS. Although I was a faithful VBS participant and helper growing up, I had no idea how to go about organizing one. The thought of any one person being solely responsible for multiple kids - was scary! (My academic plans did not include becoming a teacher…) I decided then and there that if kids were involved, parents and other caregivers would be fully participating too. Following the event, I remember adults and kids asking, “When can we do this again?” 

I have heard this question repeatedly in my 40 plus years of facilitating Intergenerational Ministry. I am continually in awe of the Holy Spirit’s stirring when generations are brought together. I often wonder, “Why are Cross+Gen gatherings still the exception rather than the rule?”

Peter Benson’s words in the book All Kid Are My Kids (1997) have become the foundation for my own persistent and loud rallying cry when working with congregations, “As a community of faith, you possess a vast, untapped potential to bring generations together to accompany one another through life’s milestones and in the mission of sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ, at home and away from home!” 

I am delighted that the InterGenerate Conference will address both the “why” and the “how” - offering both academic and practical tools for honoring and utilizing the mix and breath of ages, wonder and wisdom within each of our own faith communities. I am confident that through your participation in this conference, your ministry will be strengthened at every level, with new insights on how to weave the gifts of every generation into the very fabric of your faith community. 

The greatest lesson I have learned in my personal faith journey is that God is a God of surprises. My 1930’s house is filled with items that belonged to generations that came before me. Every possession has a story! One closet contains the books I read to our two young sons, imagining some day reading to my grandchildren as I held them in my arms, while sitting in their great-great grandma’s rocking chair. Yet, this 68-year-old woman who grew up with 8 loving, “meddling” grandparents, all who lived within 14 miles of my home, and whose passion and life’s ministry is “generations” – has no grandchildren. 

Instead, my life has been enriched in ways I could have never imagined. Two young adults in Kenya call me their “Grand-Mum!” On my 60th birthday I had the joy of coordinating the multi-age interaction and care for 65 children, ages 3-10 from around the world at my denomination’s Global Mission Event. Last fall, children at a congregation where I was a guest, laid hands on me and blessed me. I felt the warmth of their hands and hearts for hours. I have had the privilege of walking beside youth in the judicatories where I have worked, and they in turn have motivated me and inspired me. 

I have discovered that investing in generational ministry means viewing one another through God’s eyes in a “cross+formed,” grace-filled way of life that goes beyond boundaries of age or stage, familial relationships, bloodlines and households. 

Along with helping host the InterGenerate Conference as a member of the planning team, I will be offering a workshop on “Cross+Generational Engagement: Accompanying One Another in Ministry and Mission.”  Generational ministry seen through the lens of accompaniment infuses generational ministry with a new perspective and deepened sense of urgency. We have an opportunity to crisscross and connect the borders between the generations right where we are, in our own congregation and households – and into all the world. 

I look forward to hearing God’s story in your story, as you share and engage in the InterGenerate Conference. See you in Nashville!

My InterGenerate Story: Karen DeBoer

I used to think that being an intergenerational church meant replacing Sunday school with an intergenerational curriculum or adding a monthly all-ages event to the church calendar. What I’ve come to understand is that there is a big difference between “doing” intergenerational and “becoming” intergenerational.  Programs are important; through them, relationships are often formed, but being an intergenerational church is about belonging.

The denomination to which I belong practices infant baptism, but there are times when we also experience the joy of witnessing the baptism of a child, teen or adult who has come to follow Jesus. Such was the case with Vivian, a young adult in our congregation.

On the day of Vivian’s baptism, the pastor invited her to come forward and tell the congregation her story. Everyone - babies to retirees - was present and she had our full attention as she shared how growing up in Hong Kong she had been enrolled in a Christian school by her unbelieving parents and how years later, after moving to Canada, her faith was nurtured in the relationship she had with her boyfriend and through the friendships she’d made with older adults in our congregation. It was a powerful story of God at work.

And now it was time to celebrate God’s faithfulness through the sacrament of baptism. Vivian and the pastor had decided that this milestone called for a big visual so rather than sprinkling water from the baptismal bowl over Vivian’s head, the pastor planned to pour water from a pitcher. What happened next took my breath away.

“Kids! We need your help!” said the pastor. “I’ve got a tarp to cover the floor. Can some of your spread it out?” Several kids rushed forward and began unrolling the tarp. “Who can get the towels? Can you carry the table to the tarp and put the bowl of water and the towels on it? And can you stand all around the tarp and hold it in place?” And they did. With smiles and giggles and amazement, they did it all.

With wide eyes, they watched with the rest of God’s family - their family, the church - as the pastor picked up the pitcher of water, poured it over Vivian’s head and baptized her in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Then the pastor invited all those who wished to do so to surround Vivian and to pray for her. The children moved in tighter and were joined by young and old. Just before the prayer began I saw 5-year-old Nathan look up at Vivian and whisper, “May I hold your hand?”

The following week during Sunday school - one of my favorite places to form relationships with the children in my church - I asked if anyone could remember the special thing that had happened the previous Sunday. “Yes!” said Meaghan, “We baptized Vivian!”

Being an intergenerational church is about shaping a culture in which all ages belong and are known and have opportunities to learn and grow, serve and worship together.

At InterGenerate, I’ll be facilitating a workshop on storytelling. I’m looking forward to telling some stories, but mostly I’m looking forward to hearing stories and learning from the experiences of those who will be attending the conference: people from a variety of denominations who have been at work forming an intergenerational culture in their own church, those who have been researching intergenerational faith formation practices, those who have just begun to dream about what it might look like to be more intentionally intergenerational in their context. People like you.

See you there.

My InterGenerate Story: Liz Perraud

One of my first experiences in church was singing in the choir. I was about nine years old, not much of a singer but I liked to sing and I loved church. It wasn’t a children’s choir but just the choir, in the small church where I attended Sunday school. I wasn’t brave enough to invite myself so someone must have asked me to participate. I remember that I felt important and I felt equal to the adults—with my robe and my music notebook, just like their robes and music notebooks. 

My sons were raised in a LOGOS ministry in a church where they formed strong relationships--not just with peers but with adults as well. Each Wednesday evening for over ten years, they had Bible study teachers, recreation leaders, worship arts directors, and two “table parents” helping them learn and practice the Christian faith. Each summer in high school they spent a week at the GenOn Youth Summit in deep and impactful Christian community. Growing up, they were surrounded by lots of adults who, in addition to their parents, loved them as children of God and taught them to love all others as children of God too. 

Generation after generation passing on the faith. Generation with generation learning and practicing the faith. It’s what I’ve devoted my life’s work to, and I get just as charged up about why it works as I do about how it works. 

That’s why a conference like InterGenerate is thrilling to me! It is not just academics presenting researched theory and it is not just practitioners presenting proven models. It’s both.

I’ve been waiting for this conference since Holly Allen brought the idea to GenOn when it was just a dream, seeking our interest and participation. We are honored to be a sponsor and so deeply involved in the planning with Program Director Suzie Lane and board member Shirley Carlson on the task force. Holly also serves on the GenOn Board of Directors and leads InterGenerate and the planning of the conference. 

I look forward to seeing you there! 

Liz Perraud is executive director of GenOn Ministries, a sponsor of the InterGenerate Conference. 

My InterGenerate Story: Olivia Bryan Updegrove

I do not want to go to another “conference.” I want to go to an experience where I can engage with practitioners and academics beyond, “We have five minutes for questions.” I want to build relationships that will last beyond a quick “after session” conversation.

Intergenerate is limited in its number of participants so that those sitting next to you can also inspire you as much as those in front of you. We are working to make sure that those in front of you have ways to sit beside you, and together we create a foundation that can bring ways for God to work at all ages and stages of life across many denominations. 

Intergenerate is ministry in its simplest and most profound form. It is a call to be God’s community in intentional, inclusive, and relational ways. 

Intergenerate will have new voices, experienced voices, inspired voices, and your voice. You will leave with lots of information and ideas, but most importantly, you will leave with new people working alongside you as we all seek to be the church, together. 

I can’t wait to hear you voice! Join us!


My InterGenerate story: Holly Allen

I first glimpsed the significance of cross-generational Christian practices when my family and I joined a church plant that met weekly in intergenerational small groups. At the time our children were 7, 9, and 16, and we worshiped with that church for four years. My experiences in those intergenerational groups changed my understanding of children and my perspective on Christian spiritual formation for children and adults; ultimately these new perceptions led me to change my career.

However, I hadn’t realized the impact those groups had on my children (now young adults) until a few years ago when our daughter, Bethany, was visiting with us when I spoke about intergenerationality at a gathering of church leaders. One of the church leaders asked Bethany about her memories in the small groups. This is what she said:

It was so natural, sitting with everyone in our intergenerational small groups. I felt like I belonged, like we all belonged there; age wasn’t a factor. We’d all sing songs, and pray, and do a fun ice-breaker, and I participated on every level. Sometimes, the group leader would ask me to choose a song, or would ask me a particular question, like maybe how I felt about a certain verse or story in the Bible, and everyone listened to my response. I felt important, like what I had to say mattered. I remember so many of the adults in my small groups, and they were my friends, not just my parents’ friends. I remember listening to them talk about what was going on in their lives, or what new insights they’d had recently about God, and I felt a sense of intimacy.

I knew from the beginning that the groups were powerful and life-changing, but Bethany’s touching tribute to their influence in her life affirmed this conviction in me.

I am looking forward to the conference next summer, when dozens of other committed intergenerationalists (I may have just coined a new word) will share their understandings and experiences—and even their research—regarding fresh, new intergenerational Christian practices. Come join the conversation!