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A year in the life of one Messy Church

Posted by Martyn Payne on 24 Apr 2015

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Just over a year ago I visited St Nicholas Messy Church, Abbots Bromely in Staffordshire. Here in their own words is the encouraging story of what has happened since then.

Time has flown since you visited us and we have been meaning for a while to get in touch with you and let you know how our Messy Church has developed.

Following our discussions we did go on to visit the local Girl's Boarding School and held a very busy Messy Church there. The activities took place in the school hall, followed by the celebration in the chapel and lunch laid on by the school in their dining room. The challenge was to find activities which were challenging and interesting to teenagers as well as to our regular congregation - and to explain the meaning behind them accessibly for girls with English as an additional language. The theme - Christian Aid Week Homes - worked well.

Last August saw our first Messy Baptism. Josh's parents requested that his baptism should take place at Messy Church even though they had only been once before, about three years ago. The church was packed and activities included candle cakes, marbling, paper chains, water pistols extinguishing candles and prayers on doves which 'flew' in church for quite a while afterwards. All the activities linked closely to the Baptism Service. We wove these into the celebration and though that lasted more than twice as long as usual everyone was so engaged it didn't seem long at all. Gathering at the back of the church around the font for the entire celebration made it an intimate and special occasion. We have since had a request for another Messy Baptism.

Recently we have been challenged to think about the elements that 'should' be in a C of E service - e.g. prayers of penitence; absolution; creed and the Lord's Prayer and have endeavoured to include these in the celebrations in a very short, user-friendly way.

Our music group continues! Ok, it may not be the demographic we hoped for (no teenagers yet!) but having guitars, flute, clarinet, and an occasional violin adds an extra dimension to our worship. And following your observations after your visit we are trying to sit at tables for the meal more often. We've tried table talk cards a couple of times. We also now plan the Bible Study activity at one station to link well to the rest of Messy Church and we refer to it during the celebration, so that group is more integrated.

October's Messy Church had to be on the Saturday so as not to encroach on the traditional Harvest Festival service on Sunday, but we had fun with 'Feeding the 5000' and our fish and chip supper.

Our New Year back to basics theme of prayer turned into sessions over two months as we had too many ideas to fit into one morning!

We were delighted to be approached to take on the Easter Day main morning service - our first Messy Communion! We constructed a giant, cross-shaped table in the middle of our traditional church building. The activities led us through Holy Week and were interspersed between storytelling and hymns. Palm Crosses, shove ha'penny, word challenges and Gethsemane garden cakes set the scene before we gathered for communion. All ages took part in the communion service and shared freshly baked (gluten-free!) bread and grape juice. The Easter Eucharist celebration ended with Messy Grace and confetti cannons exploding over the congregation!

There are more pictures in the album on our Facebook page!

Jenny and the St Nicholas' Messy Church team.