An Interview with Eric Silvernail
Churches are among the few places in our society where members of many generations gather together in intentional and sustained relationships. When we make the effort to make the church’s life open to all, wonderful things happen. Children and adults learn the story of our faith in ways that match their developmental stage. We learn to listen to the stories and the experiences of lives lived in times very different from our own. We find others who have much to teach us. In listening to those stories, we also learn that we are not alone in the difficulties we face. Intergenerational communities are how we also learn what matters–not simply in what is told to us, but by how we spend our time in the service of others.
One example of how intergenerational community enriches the lives of a family are the Silvernails. The Silvernail family has been attending Saint Barnabas for about 5 years. All members of the family–Eric, wife, Celeste, Ava (16) and Henry (13)–have been enthusiastic participants in many of the missions and ministries of Saint Barnabas, both as a family unit and individually. (Even the family dog, Satchmo, attends the annual Blessing of the Animals!)
Eric remembers being in the Saint Barnabas Sanctuary for Christmas services when he was just 5 or 6 years old. Although he didn’t grow up particularly involved in the church, his wife Celeste was raised Catholic; the Silvernails eventually made the Episcopal church their family home, enjoying the familiarity of the liturgy and the Anglican tradition. Celeste has been a leading local organizer of Angel Tree, the nationwide gift drive program bringing Christmas gifts to children and families in need as an expression of the love of Christ.
Volunteering for Angel Tree spans generations, and positive impacts abound for all participants: from the kids, parents and grandparents volunteering to the children and young families receiving gifts. The project attracts volunteer participants of all ages, meaning that the Silvernails volunteer alongside a wide range of generations. Eric emphasizes how meaningful it has been for Ava and Henry to participate along with their parents in donating, sorting, wrapping and–most of all–delivering Christmas gifts to families in need.
Eric describes interacting with older volunteers and hearing their stories as one of the highlights of his volunteer participation at Saint Barnabas. Working side by side to serve in the community, he has had the opportunity to learn amazing stories from the lives of older volunteers–including a parishioner in her 80s who recently climbed Mount Kilimanjaro (Anne Lorimor)!
Eric has met many older retired volunteers, in whom he observes a spirit of faithful service. The opportunity for his children to be in community with such people has been most impactful, he says. Eric values the sense of community at Saint Barnabas: from the church leadership to his fellow volunteers. These are “people of faith who are walking the walk–people whom you’d want to emulate, and want your kids to emulate.”
The kids have been fully involved in the family’s volunteer life, contributing in simple yet meaningful ways to volunteer projects: from making sandwiches for the residents of the East Valley Men’s Center to packing donated food items into boxes for the monthly food drives. Being around volunteers from older generations in the Saint Barnabas community, Eric says, has provided his kids with outstanding role models: people who understand the value of service in their faith; who have the inclination to give freely of their time in support of others.
Eric emphasizes the importance of giving generously of both time and money. He views the family’s volunteerism as an essential aspect of the their faith life. As Ava and Henry are now both teenagers with full calendars, getting to church on Sunday mornings is even more challenging than it was pre-Covid and doesn’t happen as often; but Eric says that the many volunteering opportunities at Saint Barnabas allow the family to cultivate their faith in hands-on ways, by focusing on Jesus’ teaching to love thy neighbor. In particular, staying connected to the life of Saint Barnabas via the range of email, snail mail and social media communications, receiving regular updates on upcoming events and opportunities to volunteer with missions work, has been a lifeline for the Silvernail family.
In particular, Eric views the family’s experience in missions as a “multiplier.” As he and his family continued to give in various ways, “the more we gave, the more we got.” In addition to the intangible positive feelings resulting from giving time and money in service to others, Eric says that the mysterious multiplying “ripple effect” even seemed to impact the family’s financial life. As the family gave more resources to church missions projects – with the children getting involved to select the particular causes to which the family would donate – Eric noticed that the family’s resources and consequent ability to give only seemed to increase. He says he never fully understood the meaning of the phrase “my cup runneth over” until he got serious about church missions volunteering.
Families of all shapes, sizes, and configurations are welcome at Saint Barnabas. Whatever your passions and interests, we have a missions opportunity for your family. We invite you to see our missions opportunities by clicking here. –Amber Leima
“To promote dignity and build community through love and service.”
In response to God’s goodness in our lives, Saint Barnabas partners with ministries, schools, and nonprofit organizations throughout the valley, Arizona, and the world to bring comfort to those in need. We seek to share in God’s mission of reconciling the whole world to one another and to God. Parish representatives from each partner organization meet regularly to build collaboration among missions and strengthen our faith.
Click to Get Involved
To find out more about our mission partners, contact The Rev. Susie Parker
Welcome to www.saintbarnabas.org, our church community’s online expression of our life and mission. If you are looking for a place that feels like home, a place where friends remember your name and become excited when they see you across the patio, a place where members share the value of deep, life-changing faith in Jesus, you’ve come to the right place. All are welcome.
View all posts by Saint Barnabas