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Please Pass the Faith: Book launch at Assembly

   
 


Elsie Hannah Ruth Rempel is married to Peter Rempel, has three children, and “four lovely grandchildren, ages one to twelve.” She notes that her middle names “were given to me by my children for Christmas when I was 55, so they are important to me.” She is a member of Charleswood Mennonite Church in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

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July 12, 2012
- Ardell Stauffer

Winnipeg, Man. — Elsie Rempel, Mennonite Church Canada Formation Consultant, launched her new book, Please Pass the Faith, at the national church’s Assembly 2012. The book explores “spiritual grand-parenting” as an intentional way to share faith with the next generation in a world full of distractions and busy schedules.

Spiritual grand-parenting is more than taking an interest in biological grandchildren. In fact, it is a role that requires neither grandchildren nor marriage. “Spiritual grand-parenting is relating to those in the first third of life, with the willingness to be spiritual companions or co-pilgrims,” says Rempel. Many seniors are “wonderfully intentional about their relationships with the young people in their lives.”

Spiritual grand-parenting is a mentoring practice with biblical precedents, Rempel says, citing Samuel and David, Timothy and Eunice, and Elizabeth and Mary, among others. “The whole culture of the Bible was one where elders were respected and integrated into the lives of children.” Though today’s world presents its own unique challenges, from geographical distance of extended families to cultural and technological distractions, young and old continue to share a need for relationship and faith sharing.

Rempel’s book examines the challenges of these relationships, tending one’s own spirituality, and the process of how faith grows and matures. With this background in place, she gives practical advice for connecting across generations, interweaving and building the faith of old and young in the church.

“Some [elders] have learned to be a blessing for younger folk,” she says, “and others need to learn to bless and mentor others into leadership, rather than shape the church into a senior’s club,” says Rempel. “Once youth and seniors are introduced and participate in a nonthreatening conversation around things that matter, they enjoy it and want more of it.” Relationships between elders and youth are full of spiritual potential. She encourages cross-generation interactions through worship, church retreats, game nights, and by having interest-based, rather than age-based, service, craft, discussion, or prayer groups.

The most critical thing is unconditional love for the young, she believes, and genuine interest in their lives. Through these interactions young and old can share “the time-honoured tradition of telling stories about our lives, and finding our place in God’s big story.”

Faith formation is not a one-way street from old to young. “I've learned so much and been so blessed by my ministry with young people,” says Rempel. “That's one reason I had to write this book, to share these blessings with others.”

Rempel has an MA in theology and brings experience from 40 years of children’s ministry as a lay leader, camp pastor, and staff trainer, as well as 13 years as a teacher in a Mennonite elementary school. She has taught senior Bible class in her congregation and has extensively studied the area of seniors and the church. Most recently, Rempel wrote curriculum for vacation Bible school, edited a Bible study series on Revelation, and served as a mentor to elementary school teachers in Zambia’s Southern Province through a Mennonite Central Committee program. An interview with Rempel about spiritual grand-parenting can be found via Mennonite Church Canada’s Church Matters podcast at www.mennonitechurch.ca/tiny/1790.

See complete coverage of Assembly 2012