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Carnon Valley Messy Church in a Bag

Posted by Jane Leadbetter on 27 Mar 2020

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On Mothering Sunday (22 March UK), Carnon Valley Messy Church, Truro, Cornwall, invited their Messy Church congregation to collect Messy Church bags from Devoran Village Hall car park at 4.00 pm. Their Messy Church in a Bag initiative has inspired other Messy Churches to try this alternative to meeting as normal, during the coronavirus pandemic. Since Mothering Sunday, the UK has received further stringent government rulings, which makes Messy Church in a Bag even more difficult to put into action, but the idea, we feel sure, will be used again, hopefully soon, to help us connect with the families in our communities.

Reflections from Carnon Valley Messy Church: ‘As we had previously planned, we wanted to continue with the March session from the Get Messy! magazine Holy Habit: Breaking Bread Acts 20:7–12. What a good theme for our times. The breaking of bread connects and reminds us of Jesus and Christians around the world – 2,000 years and going strong. Paul is speaking to the young church and we want to connect and share Jesus’ love with our Messy Church.

'Our Messy Church was on Mothering Sunday, and we had planned to have a pamper area for mums: garden chairs, cushions, rugs, hot chocolate bar with squirty cream and marshmallows, mindfulness bookmarks to colour, worship songs playing and a massage technician to provide hand massages. All was well until the coronavirus pandemic meant we had to postpone, but cancel? Never!

'A series of team emails began and we were off! We tried to keep to a familiar pattern but kept physical preparation to as few people as possible. We have no leader at our Messy Church, but we actioned ourselves various jobs. We met at a distance to collect jam jars, washi tape and paper carrier bags. Three people were to buy cake mixes. We managed 25, but already there was no hope of bread mixes anywhere! The prayer activity required white kitchen roll – not available in local shops, and there are no shops at all in Devoran (very rural community), so we wrote up an explanation instead. Hand sanitizer, antibacterial washing-up liquid, dishwasher tablet and Milton sterilizing fluid was used meticulously and posted in pictures on Facebook to show our commitment to good health procedures. The hardest part was writing an easy-to-follow leaflet. We wanted all our team and families to feel needed, valued and important to us. We made flower posies too.

'Sunday afternoon arrived, and we really didn’t know if anyone would turn up! We were all at a distance. The car boot was washed down and a wipeable liner placed inside. 25 bags, one per family, were collected in half an hour. God holds us in his hand! Our main advice is to keep the collection of a Messy Church in a Bag as close as possible to the actual time you normally hold your Messy Church, in case any communications have not been seen. Choose a large enough space so that social distancing practice can take place. Then follow up on your Messy Church Facebook page, as usual, or email the families and keep Messy communications going in between your Messy Church months.’

Enjoy the photographs and contact jane.leadbetter@brf.org.uk for any information about Messy Church in a Bag. Keep sharing your ideas!