Angelina Goldwell is the DRE for the First UMC of Olympia (fumcoly.org) . She received her Masters of Divinity from the Claremont School of Theology in 2012. She has nearly a decade of experience doing ministry with all ages and is particularly focused on intergenerational ministries.
I adore the church year. I grew up in a tradition of “smells and bells” and still firmly believe that the seasons of the church year invite us to engage all of our senses. Lent is my favorite season. As a child I looked forward pancakes on Tuesday night and to receiving ashes on Wednesday. I grew up enjoying the triple ritual of fasting, prayer and almsgiving. My favorite color is purple and I love the desert. I have a special place in my heart for the story of Jesus’ temptation: it is a story that emphasizes the power of knowledge, the value of commitment, the importance of choice, and being able to stand on your own two feet in your faith journey. The words of Matthew 6:1-18 shape my approach to my interior faith life. As someone who has experienced great seasons of spiritual drought, everything about this season speaks to me.
In my time as a Christian educator I have had the opportunity teach about this season to elementary, middle school, high school and with adults in various life stages. Children and youth succeed when they have strong relationships with adults to whom they are not related.* At First Olympia we prepare for the beginning of each liturgical season with an all-ages event. These events take place either during the Discipleship Hour (between services) or are scheduled at alternate time for longer events. For Lent 2017 we have three events scheduled:
All-Ages Lent Learning (Sunday February 26, 10am-11am)
The Sunday morning prior to the start of Lent we will offer our intergenerational learning event. I believe in order for something to be intergenerational the structure and content of that event requires the input of multiple generations. The session outline was developed in conversation with members of our Children’s Council (which includes children and youth) and the Discipleship Ministries Team (who oversee faith formation for adults). A PDF is available here for church use.
New Member Potluck & Ash Wednesday Service (March 1, 2017)
Traditionally our church has done a Pancake Dinner on Tuesday night cooked and served by the staff. We schedule quarterly potlucks for new members to meet long standing members (we have new members join on the 4th Sunday of the month and have a potluck on the first Wednesday of the second month of the quarter) and decided to combine the two. The potluck is welcome to all ages so in addition to dinner we will include some simple activities for children (coloring books, activity bags filled with different textured items, etc.). We cover the tables with butcher paper and put crayons on each table. On the butcher paper we write questions that the table group may choose to answer as a way to start a conversation. For the Ash Wednesday service itself we will invite children and youth to assist in the distribution of the ashes and in other worship roles such as greeters, ushers and readers.
Throughout the Lenten Season
During the six weeks of Lent the children and youth collaborate to create an entirely child/youth led worship service to take place following Easter. Each week they focus on a different component of the worship service with guidance from adults who specialize in those areas (ex: choir director helps the children select the songs, pastors help with the structure/writing of the sermon, experienced ushers teach the children host to usher, etc.).
I hope these resources are helpful to you, reader, and hope that you will take the time to let me know how they have worked in your context.