Intergenerational Renewal Survey Report

Report to St. Dunstan’s Vestry, Prepared by Sharon Henes, November 2018

In August we embarked on a season of intergenerational renewal, during Rev. Miranda’s sabbatical, and by the end of October we achieved a deeper understanding of each other and built a foundation of new relationships.  Many people went into this experience thinking our church was built on two generations –kids and adults but we realized our church has layers of generations.  Numbers can’t quantify our experience but approximately 90-100 members of the congregation participated in at least one activity during the sabbatical intergenerational renewal!  That in itself is both amazing and exciting!  (Equally amazing was there was very little negative feedback throughout the sabbatical or reported in the surveys.)  Some of the members who did not participate indicated to me an appreciation for the intergenerational renewal project and that they were experiencing benefits.  At the beginning of the sabbatical, I challenged everyone to get to know someone who is 15 years older or younger themselves and the vast majority of people met that challenge.  

Reflecting on the season, there are some definite points to keep in mind moving forward:

  • There is a desire for frequent intergenerational activities.
  • Intentional inclusion of members that attend the two services, including communication.
  • Creating and maintaining a community is important. 
  • Continue the conversations about the differences and similarities among the generations and the impact on our shared life in this community.
  • We like each other and like spending time together.

Events and activities took place on weekends with the exception of SaintFest and the campfires. SaintFest ran for 5 consecutive evenings and the campfires were on one Wednesday night and two Thursday nights.  Our intergenerational renewal project included the following activities:

  • SaintFest, our intergeneration vacation bible school
  • Postcard Pals in September and October
  • Campfires in August, September, October.  Each included a simple meal.
  • August campfire featured singing around the campfire.
  • September campfire featured Festival of Booths.
  • October campfire featured conversations around the campfire.
  • Game Night
  • Church Grounds Nature Hike 
  • Book Discussions: Wishtree (September), Miss Rumphius (October)
  • Understanding Generations Discussions
  • Kids in Church (September)
  • Boomers, Xers and Millennials (October )
  • Museum Field Trips: UW Geology Museum (September), Chazen Art Museum (October)
  • Art Show and Poetry Readings
  • Tea Party
  • Throughout the renewal project, our adult and children choirs collaborated on music

This sabbatical intergenerational renewal experience had several benefits for the church members.  The most cited benefits are:

  • People interacted with other people that they would not ordinarily interact with.
  • People met new people.
  • People got to know each other better.
  • People felt more connected with members of our church family (both at the events and outside the events).
  • People gained a better understanding of the generations in our church.

People did not want the experience to end with the end of the sabbatical.  (Several expressed to me a concern that momentum of this experience will end.)  As we move forward beyond this season of renewal, we want the following:

  • Continue the events, including the following:
  • Field trips.  Ideas suggested include: Spring picnic at Cave of the Mounds; International Crane Foundation; Planetarium; Historical Museum; Horicon Marsh
  • Fellowship activities.  Ideas suggested include:
    • Tea Parties
    • Monthly campfires
    • Paint Night
    • Book discussions
    • Polka Dance Night
    • Gardening and Grounds activities
    • Shared meals and conversations
  • Postcard Pals – at least once a year!
  • Intergenerational VBS
  • Discussions around the various generations
  • Interactions among the generations (prior church activities/events seemed segregated by age)
  • Remember we all have a story and gifts to share