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.
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