Imagine walking into a room filled with over a hundred high school students along with a handful of seventy-plus year old seniors, laughing and conversing with one another. This beautiful picture is not simply a thought or a hope, it is a reality at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church.
Nancy Longmire was someone who expressed interest in serving with emerging adolescents in the church. Initially, the idea was to have her lead a small group of young women. Then, Nancy was invited into the high school ministry night, called Refuge. She was nervous, felt a bit out of place at first, but began to slowly start conversations with students. After a couple of weeks being with the senior girls’ small group, she began to share and offer bits of wisdom. Her words were embraced because she was authentic, real, and listened well; she had earned a place with them.
Shortly thereafter, Nancy was so excited about what was taking place that she invited six other older individuals to Refuge. Young and old came together in community, living into one of St. Andrew’s real values. An individual who came that night was also a Nancy, Nancy Bell. She observed and listened, even bringing snacks for the students. What was more powerful than snacks was the listening ear and openness within the group of girls. Nancy Bell expressed that in her family, that after a gathering, they all come together and shout “I love you!” three times, and so, if you come on a Monday night, you will hear a group of junior girls shouting “I love you” three times from the worship room. It’s a beautiful sight to see. At the end of the ministry year, Nancy bought her junior girls’ small group devotionals and toward the end of the night I asked a few girls leaving, “how was your night,” and they quickly responded, “it was amazing, Nancy is the best thing that has happened to our small group!”
The two Nancy’s demonstrate that intergenerational ministry is possible and essential for a church to grow in a healthy way.