We’ve been getting excited about grandparents recently. Maybe it’s because Jane and Martyn are now both grandparents themselves, but more likely we’ve always been fascinated by the unique relationship between older people and younger ones – whether they are related or not. My own children benefited hugely from the church family of surrogate grandparents as they were growing up, when their own grandparents lived a long way away.
We realised that ministry to grandparents is one of the points at which all our different strands of BRF’s work intersect. Who Let The Dads Out? groups get loads of grandads coming with their grandchildren. The Gift of Years specialises in the spirituality of older people and is exploring more and more intergenerational ministry among third and fourth agers. Faith in Homes ideas can be picked up as much by grandparents as by parents and carers. Our BRF books, of course, apply to faith development and discipleship for all sorts of people. And at Messy Church, we LOVE the contribution made by so many older people, both those who bring their grandchildren and those older people who organise activities on the team.
So celebrating the unique relationship between grandchildren and grandparents makes complete sense for us at BRF. Celebrating the particularly fruitful ways this relationship shares faith across the generations, handing on what is precious within a trusting relationship, is a great thing for the Church as a whole to encourage.
What better way to do this than by giving older and younger people the chance to come and have a treat of an afternoon together? This will include a custom-built Messy Church session to enjoy together, exploring faith and making memories around that precious relationship, with the added attraction of speakers from all the BRF ministries sharing a little about those ministries – especially about older people within them – and enjoying a time to chat with anyone interested. All this will be followed by a party tea for everyone!
We really want these Grandparents’ Festivals to celebrate the church family too, so if you’re an older person in church acting as a grandparent to someone younger, why not cement that relationship with an afternoon out together?
Our first ever Grandparents’ Festivals are being held at the kind invitation of Portsmouth Diocese and Cathedral on 17 September, and Sheffield Diocese on 22 October this autumn. If you’re within striking distance, do skype a grandchild and make a date to join us. (In my own family, that means adult grandchildren coming with their granny or grandpa – and that’s great!)