Grampa Sunday School

The congregation had been through a lot of transition and nobody – I mean nobody — had time or energy for religious education. The poor Director of Religious Education couldn’t get a soul to sign up for teaching duty.  And duty is just what it was feeling like.

Finally the Men’s Group, which consisted of the elderly gray-haired gentlemen in that congregation, shyly stepped forward and said that they’d like to do something with the kids. The Religious Education Committee didn’t quite know what to do with this. They were not the typical Sunday school teachers.  But okay, everyone else was profoundly burned out. The only stipulations were that the safety policy be honored with background checks and that if somehow the principles could be slipped in, then that would be great.

What transpired was a busy basement full of Grampas and kids.  There was Richard in the corner with a pile of kids reading stories and then acting them out with puppets he found.  Walter, a thick glassed engineering geek, was happily working out math problem with an almost savant brilliant boy that previously never quite fit in.  They were two peas in a pod.  Ron would take some kids by the hand into the kitchen, “let’s see what we can find to make today…” and goodies for social hour would be created.  Bob – he took some kids outside with Sam.  Sam was a developmentally delayed young adult who loved to play tag with the kids on the playground.  Bob would be nearby with a block of wood, a box of big nails and a small hammer and a group of kids that needed to get out some anger.  Matt and the teens listened to music and gave the lyrics UU ratings according to Principle Relevancy. That season stories were shared, large life questions were pondered, and a fabric of extended family was woven.

Soon after that summer the Religious Education Committee found the volunteers to go back to their traditional program, which was fine. It was fall and people were ready to get back into a familiar schedule.  But something really magical happened. When families came in before worship, the kids would often break from their parents to go sit with their Grampas.  Grampas started showing up at school functions to cheer for their smaller friends. The community began sharing the child-rearing and the Grampa-raising.

Religious Education nurtures intergenerational relationships and cross learning.  Religious Education builds community where we can contribute our unique gifts.


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