Bringing young and old together has made the Heidelberg Catechism come alive for the congregation of East Leonard Christian Reformed Church.
This past fall the Grand Rapids, Mich., church invited people of all ages to study the catechism together with their teen members.
Rev. Al Hoogewind said he got the idea for the intergenerational class from a Catholic priest who leads a doctrinal class for all ages in his parish.
As the classes studied fundamental faith questions, an elderly woman shared how the death of her husband made Jesus truly her “only comfort in life and in death” (from the catechism’s first question and answer).
“There were times that I just knew [the three teenage girls in the class] were learning and enjoying,” said Ruth Vander Hart, 65. “I felt bonded to these girls.”
“I really liked it,” said Amber Winkel, 17. “It was a nice way to get to know the older generation as well as people my age.”
One class member, a recent ex-convict, “had the light go on” as he began to understand the nature of sin, said Hoogewind. Another man, an immigrant from Liberia, “fell in love with the catechism” and felt it would help him discuss Christianity with his Muslim friends, the pastor said.
Young people need to understand the doctrines of their church, so studying the catechism is important, Hoogewind said. “The process that we used turned out to be a great combination of the head knowledge and the heart knowledge.”