A little less than a year ago I wrote to you to say that “the method is the message.” Now I want to write the same thing to you as part of planting a seed that I hope will sprout in the late spring or early summer. The children and youth programs next school year (2022-2023) will need volunteers. I want you to know that it makes a difference if you volunteer. It communicates to the kids – among many other helpful things – that we are a community on whom they can rely as they explore what they believe, develop a relationship with this congregation and Unitarian Universalism, and try living out their values in a complicated world. It also communicates to parents and guardians that this is a community on whom they can rely, that they are not alone in learning alongside of and guiding future generations. The method is the message.
While working in this congregation over the last couple years, I have often heard adult congregants say that they wouldn’t be a good fit to volunteer with children. “I wouldn’t even know what to say to kids these days!” “They don’t want me. I’m too old and can’t relate to kids like young people can.” And so on. This method has a message, and I am not sure it is the message you want to communicate to children and their families. I imagine you don’t want to communicate with your distance from the next generations that they are so different from you that common ground can’t be found; that there are no resources from the past that can help them; and that they and their parents and guardians are on their own in this uncertain era.
Soon, we will begin to make some decisions about the shape the next program-year will take. After that, we will be looking for volunteers to help the programs take form. Surely there will be opportunities both long-term and short-term, even things you can help with just a time or two to see how it goes. I may ask you if you would be willing to volunteer. This question is an invitation to move through discomfort to help build an intergenerational community where the generations can learn from one another. I hope that is a method and a message in which you will consider investing.