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Intergenerational Ping-Pong


Ping-Pong matches generations

On most Thursday evenings, people walking through First United Methodist Church in Portland, Ore., will hear the sound of people playing Ping-Pong in the gym. Kay Ward, First Church member, came up with the idea so that the young and older alike could get some exercise and build relationships with one another.

Each week, volunteers set up two Ping-Pong tables to allow eight people to play at the same time. The intergenerational group of about 15 meets for two hours before going to the youth and sanctuary choir rehearsals. Some of the players are not members of the church, but enjoy the fellowship.

"It's a nonthreatening environment where people can have fun," said Dave Jenkins, the church's administrative assistant. Also available is a collection of board games for grandparents, parents and children to play. Some participants end the evening by going out to dinner together.

"I like it so much because it's OK if you show up and OK if you don't," wrote one youth on the church's website. "But it's really fun if you come, because everyone is nice and goes easy on you if you aren't very good like me."

The weekly Ping-Pong evening is only one of the ways First Church brings people of different generations together.

"Once a month, we have an intergenerational family service," said the Rev. Jeremy Smith, minister of discipleship at the church. "They (also) do service projects like making blankets and writing cards for shut-ins." In May, an intergenerational group will go on a mission trip to Utah to do work for UMCOR.

Christine Kumar is a freelance writer based in Silver Spring, Md.

AT A GLANCE First United Methodist Church | 1838 S.W. Jefferson St., Portland, OR 97201 | 503-228-3195 | | | Senior pastor: Rev. Donna Pritchard | Average worship attendance: 329 | Oregon-Idaho Conference