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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Buddies are a blessing

New York congregation connects children with older adults

It started with a study. Kim Wilson, an ELCA pastor, read research indicating that children are more likely to be involved and stay active in the church if people there — besides family — know them and call them by their first name. With that piece of information, Wilson created Blessing Buddies to build intergenerational relationships between Sunday school students and older adults.

"We're only in worship for an hour on Sunday mornings. We don't get the chance to deepen the relationships then," said Wilson, who began pairing Sunday school students with active adults in her former congregation, Bethlehem Lutheran, Baldwin, N.Y.

For its Blessing Buddies program, Our
For its Blessing Buddies program, Our Savior Lutheran Church, Glen Head, N.Y., pairs a child with an adult to build intergenerational relationships. John Kinsedahl (left), Thomas Cooke, Todd Sorensen and Jason Basile paint photo ornaments at a December event. Participants were asked to exchange their creations and pray for their Buddy every time they saw the ornament on their Christmas tree.

The idea was that kids would know someone else in church who would greet them by name. It was also valuable for children who don't live close to their grandparents and extended families.

The program made such an impact that Wilson started it at the congregations she now serves, Our Savior Lutheran, Glen Head, N.Y.


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