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Fall 2002 · Vol. 31 No. 2 · pp. 238–39 

Book Review

Bridging the Generations

Katie Funk Wiebe. Scottdale, PA: Herald, 2001. 235 pages.

Reviewed by Stacy A. Hammons

Bridging the Generations grapples with two social facts currently found within the United States: that of an increasingly aged population, and the committed religiosity of this particular group. While these realities have certainly not gone unrecognized by demographers, sociologists, and the like, Wiebe offers a different examination of these issues. She explores how church bodies may better utilize the spiritual depth of their elders in the process building “intergenerational relationships in the church” and “bringing all generations closer together” (16).

Wiebe is well known in Mennonite circles, having taught at Tabor College for twenty-four years and having published numerous articles and books. However, she writes Bridging the Generations not from an academic viewpoint, but rather from the perspective of a church elder who has herself observed increasing segregation of the various generations so that, as a result, they have very little contact with one another. Due to the fact that Wiebe has targeted her book for anyone interested in this topic, the reader will find the author’s writing style to be easily accessible.

The book begins by first exploring intergenerational relationships as desired by God and found within Anabaptist history. Wiebe contrasts these desired relationships with the segregationist situation actually found within many churches today. After establishing the need and purpose for creating intergenerational relationships within the church body, subsequent chapters in the book discuss barriers to the more active involvement of the elderly within the church community and explore strategies for overcoming those obstacles. Specific topics include confronting ageism, finding or creating more positive roles for the elderly, teaching younger generations to respect older individuals, and creating intentional venues through which the elderly can share their life experiences and wisdom with the young.

Wiebe ends each chapter with specific questions for consideration and activities to help in the implementation of her ideas. These can help the reader to envision ways in which many of the changes she advocates could actually be set in motion. While some of these recommendations may be too simplistic for the complexity of certain church situations, they nevertheless can help to stimulate discussion. This itself makes the book a useful tool for groups and individuals interested in helping churches once again create a community in which all the generations can worship, grow, and learn from one another. {239}

Stacy A. Hammons
Professor of Sociology
Fresno Pacific University, Fresno, California

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