A place to feel wanted and welcomed
After watching the Channel 4 documentary The Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds, Helen Reid was inspired to start an intergenerational group at her church in Oxford. On the first Tuesday of the month, St Ebbes’ Church, Headington, hosts a coffee morning called TLC for little ones and the older generation.
TLC first started at the end of 2019, and after pausing during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, the group restarted again in the summer of 2021. Around 25 people come along to each drop-in morning, held in St Ebbes’ Church building, to chat, drink coffee, eat cake, and find friendship.
Churchgoers from the two churches of St Ebbes' Headington and All Saints Highfield, just a two-minute walk apart, join the monthly groups - so TLC is not only bringing the generations together but also encouraging more collaboration in the parish.
The group is still growing and hopes to reach more local people in the older generation who can find it difficult to get out of the house and are easily isolated, as well as get families along to weekly church services and events.
Helen shared how the different generations join together at the coffee mornings:
“Many people have been part of the local community for many years but haven’t been part of the church. TLC is a space where they can feel wanted and welcomed.
"Many of the older generation have fascinating stories and talents to share. At one of the groups, an older lady showed the younger ones her dressmaking skills, and children bring in their musical instruments to play. It’s really lovely to see the two generations together and how much they enjoy each other’s company."
Diane Small, one of the groups dedicated volunteers, said, “The group draws people into the church family, young and old together, and helps build lasting friendships. It’s also a way of encouraging us as a church to continue being good neighbours and share Jesus’ love and care with one another.
"Several of my older neighbours have come along to the groups and have started forming new friendships with one another and with younger parents and their kids.”
The Revd Paul Bolton, the Minister for Children and Families at St Ebbes, reflects on new opportunities for the church:
“It is also an important opportunity for us to develop our pastoral care for the older generation in the community, both those churchgoers and those who don’t come along to church.
"Older people can be very isolated, especially when living alone, so this is one of the ways we can get to know them and show them that the church community is there to support them.”
Intergenerational relationships benefit and support the whole community. The Disciples Together resources from the diocese is one of the ways churches across the Thames Valley are reengaging with intergenerational faith formation and seeing the benefits of learning from one another and worshipping together in their communities.
Disciples Together explores how we can embrace change for the benefit of God’s work in the world and outlines steps for future ministry.