On Wednesday nights when kids and student ministries are in session, The Scroll Resource Center sometimes becomes a hangout for parents, grandparents and more. Those informal gatherings gave Sue Nelson an idea: Why not use the time and space for something deeper?
Starting Wednesday, Jan. 11, anyone can still drop in between 6:30 and 8 p.m. But the chats will be a little more structured, hitting topics that might touch on faith, family and culture.
“I wondered if we could start something that we would just call “Conversations,” says Sue, who is The Scroll’s coordinator. “I would find somebody to do a 10-minute explanation of what the topic is … maybe some of the things that they know about the topic, and then we would just open it up. I don’t want it to be a venting experience or a therapy experience. But just where people come and they say ‘You know, I have that situation. What are your insights into it?’”
The first week’s topic is “Holiday Leftovers.” And though a recipe or two might be shared (see below), the evening will focus mostly on topics other than food. With so many hot-button topics, especially in recent years, family gatherings might get a little … tense.
“So many of us walk away from our holiday gatherings with leftover hurt feelings, tension, arguments,” Sue says. “How do you process all of that?”
Participants likely will vary according to the week’s topic—but anyone is invited to any of them.
“My hope would be that there would be older generations, younger generations, middle generations, and maybe some friendships would develop out of that,” Sue says. I know myself at my age, I look at things much differently than somebody who is much younger than me . I don’t always know the nuances that they are going to see.”
A few potential topics she’s considering:
- Relating to aging parents or grandparents.
- Young moms’ questions. “Sometimes you don’t want to ask your own mother, or you don’t have a mother to ask,” Sue says. “Maybe the person to start that conversation is a grandmother from our church. Some people are very gifted in mothering, and then the rest of us struggle.”
- Parents whose kids have strayed from their faith.
- Reaching out to grandchildren.
- Navigating political tensions among families and friends.
- Continuing pandemic tensions.
- Worship preferences and the reasons behind them.
- The technology gap between generations. “I was talking to someone yesterday,” Sue says, “and they said, ‘Where’s a kindergartener? They could help me work my phone.’”
A ‘glimmer of light’
The Conversations probably won’t happen every week at first – maybe twice a month until Sue can gauge the level of interest and engagement. The setting each time will be an informal, guided chat where people learn from each other’s life experiences. That looks very different from most settings today where people gather only if they are like-minded. Or, they try to navigate challenging situations alone online and wind up angry, frightened or discouraged.
“When we act in solo, we get such tunnel vision that we don’t see other resources that are out there,” Sue says. “We don’t have a proper perspective of things. We can become so overwhelmed in a situation. And then Satan likes to work in that, producing false guilt and despair.
“Whereas if somebody else comes along, there may just be one tiny little glimmer of light that they can give that encourages you and helps you. All of a sudden it’s like someone has open the curtains and you see all kinds of ideas and ways to remedy a situation. And a lot of times it’s just a matter of somebody being a few steps ahead of us. They have been through this, and they have seen God work.”
Check (or subscribe to) the weekly email newsletter for upcoming Conversation topics. If you have an idea for a topic, email Sue or simply stop by The Scroll on Sunday mornings, Wednesday evenings or Thursday mornings.
Oh, we mentioned recipes. Here’s one from Sue to help kick off the Holiday Leftovers conversation:
Turkey Ham Casserole
- 1 cup ham
- 2 cup turkey
- 1 can slice mushrooms with juice
- 1 5oz can sliced water chestnuts drained
- 2 tbsp butter
- 3 tbsp flour
- 1 cup cream
- 2 tbsp sherry wine
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- ½ cup onion
- ½ cup swiss cheese
- 1 ½ cups soft bread crumbs
Sauté onion in butter. Add flour, stirring to blend. Add mushrooms with juice and cream; stir until smooth and thickened. Add turkey, ham, water chestnuts, salt, pepper. Add wine and blend together. Turn into casserole dish. Top with grated cheese. Add bread crumbs (that have been mixed with 2 tbs melted butter) around the edges. Bake in 400-degree oven until lightly browned — about 40 minutes.