In the midst of the Covid pandemic, churches are creatively finding ways to continue engaging with people across their parishes.
And the latest initiative by The Revd Benjamin Carter and his team from the Parishes by the Wall is certainly keeping the younger members of his community entertained.
The team has launched ‘Messy Church at Home’ in response to nationwide social distancing restrictions which have prevented usual Messy Church events taking place in the benefice.
Families are now taking part in Messy Church activities from the comfort of their home over the second weekend of each month, culminating in an online Zoom service.
Around 50 children from three schools and churches in the local area – as well as two little ones from Scotland – are getting involved in the fun event which follows a different theme each month.
Benjamin, who came across the idea via the Messy Church network, said: “It’s been working really well so far. The key to it all is organisation. We meet 10 days before the service to plan the theme, and then at the beginning of the week before the Sunday Zoom we pack up bags – a bit like a conveyor belt - with the various activities and prayers, which are then delivered to schools. They are kept in quarantine for three days before they’re handed out to the children, so it’s all very Covid-secure.”
Themes covered so far are Harvest and Remembrance, with the children creating a range of fantastic artwork from autumnal wreathes to colourful scarecrows and poppies. The third Messy Church at Home event in December will focus on Advent.
Many of the families join the Sunday Zoom service, which Benjamin describes as ‘extraordinarily chaotic (but in a good way)’.
Benjamin added: “We have lots of excited six, seven and eight-year olds taking part. It’s great as it allows the children to help lead us in prayers and do readings. It all comes together really well.”
From September 2019 up until lockdown, Parishes by the Wall were running Messy Church as an after-school activity. Benjamin added: “It will be interesting to see what happens once restrictions are lifted. Messy Church at Home might be one of the things that remains as it offers families a higher level of flexibility, and the engagement so far has been fantastic.”
Benjamin would be happy to chat with anyone interested in the idea of running Messy Church at Home in their own area. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him on 01434 688196/ 07985 412542.