So, I went to this Clergy Brunch at Ingleside yesterday. It was very interesting. I sat by this wonderful woman named Louise Winfield. I don’t know how old Louise is, I’m guessing she’s in her early 80s (it’s always dangerous to guess…). And, you know—people who say that’s the greatest generation—I’m going to give it to them.
Has anyone else noticed it? I mean, some of the 70+ year olds in our church are just amazing people. I’m not someone who thinks that age alone makes a person wise. I just think that particular generation of Americans is smashing. And, contrary to popular notions, many of them are very progressive.
I actually feel really honored that I got a chance to work with them as long as I did. The church is just going to be an entirely different place without them around.
Louise introduced me to everyone in the room, and kept asking them, “Have you read her book?”
And they would roll their eyes slightly and say, “No. You gave it to me, but it’s still sitting on my desk.”
And she would press, “Well, you need to read it. It’s not just for young people. Everyone needs to read this book.”
I’m making Louise my manager.
I learned yesterday that the nursing facility used to be entirely run by the Women’s Association of the church. Can you imagine? Sitting there, I thought about what it would have been like to run something like that in my free time.
It makes sense. I don’t have any friends who are child-free and stay at home, but I do have some who stay at home with their kids. Some are very happy at home. Others are not. I’ve watched men and women go into major depressions when they decide to stay home. And other people bloom beautifully.
So, I imagine that’s what women did when they got frustrated with full-time domesticity, back in the day. They took on these major volunteer jobs.
Times have changed.
Do I long for a time when women didn’t get paid for all of their hard work? No. But it’s clear that our society has transitioned. There’s the generation of older adults where one person in the household worked forty hours and the other person did the housework. Not always, of course, but that was the norm. And when they were young—that was when the mainline was actually mainline. We flourished.
Now men and women have less time. For a younger generation, especially in urban areas, two people work in the household. Forty percent of wives who work make more than their husbands. They both do housework and juggle the children—and it’s clear that the kids are the priority. Life is a huge, exhausting, wonderful ordeal for much of the time.
So what’s that mean for the church? What’s church going to look like as the greatest generation is no longer involved? How will we keep our democratic governing, without insisting on hundreds of volunteer hours from our congregations each month? What are we going to do about adult education? It’s clear that the young families in our church are not doing the Wednesday night dinner thing—but there’s still a need for something.
We’re kicking around different ideas. Devotional books with daily readings, and one discussion time. Christian ed blogs. What are your ideas? What’s working in your church? What do you wish you could do?
the photo’s by Muffinmc