Life’s big questions over Elevenses

With a name inspired by JR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Elevenses at Trinity North Uniting Church is a discussion-led worship group making a big impact in the lives of the people who attend. In the book, Elevenses is a meal break taken by Hobbits at 11.00am. Although they do provide refreshments, at Trinity North, Elevenses is so much more than just a snack.

While the group has been beneficial for the young adults who attend, it is not specifically aimed at young people and attracts members of all ages. Its intergenerational scope has created a space where people can explore life’s big questions with others who have different perspectives.

Jana MacAdam is a member of Trinity North Uniting Church, Greenwood Worshipping Community, and a first-year university student. Feeling too old for youth group, Jana felt she needed more theological discussion than traditional Sunday morning worship could provide. On approaching her church council, she found they too had been discussing how they could provide a space for young adults to explore their faith.

“We found there was a need for something to cover the gap,” said Jana. “We’ve got the youth group and that’s really running well, but then you’ve got nothing for anyone who’s too old for youth group, and nothing on a Sunday.”

After discussion with others from the congregation, and support from ministers Rev Karama Ioapo and Rev Brian Thorpe, Elevenses began meeting at the Greenwood Worship Centre at 11.00am, after the Sunday morning service.

As they come to their first year anniversary, the group are now seen as their own worshipping community. Some who attend also attend Sunday worship, some don’t.
Jana describes Elevenses as discussion-based worship; somewhere in between a Bible study group and traditional Sunday worship. Members take turns in leading each session, but can find discussion strays from the topic depending on ideas people might want to talk about that week.

“There’s never any shortage of questions or things to talk about,” Jana said. “Some of our discussions have completely sidetracked off what we’d intended to talk about because it turns out there was something more important. So it has the flexibility to address that as well; deviating from the plan isn’t a problem.”

As a young adult, Jana has found the intergenerational nature of the group has helped broaden her theological ideas of the world.

“Personally, I had a lot of questions and wasn’t finding that I had anywhere to answer them. My parents have always been really good, but to have a broader range of people to talk to was really important.

“At the young adult age you don’t just want to be with young people anymore. You start to recognise that older people have a lot to offer. And some of these ‘young people centric’ programs, while they’re also valuable, don’t show you as much of the experience of other people and you don’t get that same depth.”

Elevenses has helped Jana in her faith, and grounded her in her day-to-day life. After struggling with hearing fundamental Christian values at school, Jana questioned whether Christianity was for her. Being able to take part in honest discussion with other members of Elevenses helped Jana realise her own values.

“It has probably made me more secure in my faith,” she said. “The biggest influence I think Elevenses had was reaffirming that actually at my core I believe this and it fits my values; that there’s a form of Christianity that matches what I feel is right about God, that matches the underlying principles of love rather than didactic rules.”

Having the support of a group who’ve addressed all sorts of theological questions has meant that Jana feels more prepared to deal with life’s challenges as she enters adulthood.

“Because I’ve discussed things and because we talk about life problems I’m in some ways more prepared when things come up. I’ve already thought through it, I know what I think or I’ve thought about several different points of view so I feel more equipped for dealing with a situation.

“I think it teaches me to think about things from beyond my point of view and beyond my realm of possibility.

“To draw on that is really valuable.”

Elevenses is held each Sunday at 11.00am at Trinity North Uniting Church, Greenwood Worship Centre. For more information call the Church Admin Office on 9448 4543 or email admin@tnuca.org.au.

Heather Dowling

Top image: Some of the members of Trinity North Uniting Church’s Elevenses group including (left to right) Nancy Seckington-Baker, Karen Honeybun, Zoe MacAdam, Jamie Wright, Dawn Timmerman and Jana MacAdam.

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