One of the things I love most about Park Road is the opportunity to form relationships with folks across generations. This church encourages its members to uplift, support and guide one another so we can learn and grow together. Patrick Brady has demonstrated this ideal perfectly with his recent school project.

For his International Baccalaureate project, Patrick chose to compile interviews from members at Park Road about their experiences and struggles growing up into a book, Being American. Being passionate about politics, Patrick was also interested in how their views on patriotism have changed since high school.

In addition to his interest in politics, Patrick tells me, “I like to talk to people, especially older people, about what life was like. Being 17 years old, I only know the world as it is and was during my childhood, which in the scope of the length of human lifespan isn’t very much. You don’t read about daily attitudes and social life in textbooks, what I like to think of as ‘anecdotal history.’ These are the stories and experiences that we can relate to but have no specific parallel in modern life. . .”

Given his age, Patrick thinks critically about the world around him. He says that one of his “biggest beefs” about contemporary literature or entertainment is that it does not provide a sufficient background to the larger picture. For him, “this project functioned as a kind of backstory for modern America, allowing me some additional insight and understanding into the development of modern social and political attitudes. As an added bonus, I was able to know some members of our church whom I had not previously had the chance to really talk to!”

It is always such a pleasure to see our teenagers developing their own ideas and stories for their life. It is a great thing that our young people at Park Road have such an amazing place to grow!

This project challenged Patrick to engage with a broader range of members at Park Road. He believes that “greater involvement with more of the communities within our church will inspire a feeling of greater connectedness and engagement in church members, this is especially true for the youth.”

Last fall at the Intergenerational Retreat, I had the opportunity to get to know Frank and Lou Jean Johnson. What a pleasure it was to dine together and listen to their stories! It was a great reminder that regardless of the obstacles that life throws at us, if we surround ourselves with the right people and support one another, there’s so much we can overcome.

When you get a moment, head over to the library in the lobby of the Community Center to read the Patrick stories about Debbie Brown, Dan McClintock, Dona Leonard, Jan Burleson, Netta Mosley, Bob Richardson, Louise Waters, Bob Clare, George Miles and Merrilee Fellows.

And remember to take advantage of the opportunities at Park Road to get to know folks with whom you might believe you do not have much in common. Their experiences just might help you define your own life just a little bit better!