A message from Fr. Chris about the importance of children in our church life and our Child Friendly Church Award...
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Over the past year and a half, we at St Cross have placed great store by the place of our children and children’s ministry within the life of the church. The past year has seen the advent of a number of initiatives for children: the setting up of Sunday School (‘Little Stars’); a choir; the involvement of children in the planning and leading of All Age Worship; the creation of a small borrowing library for children; the design and purchase of pew bags for very young children and the introduction of a monthly family dinner and film night.
In light of this our Children’s Ministry Leader, Joanne Owens, decided to apply for the Child Friendly Church Award Scheme (CFCA), not just to celebrate our achievements but also to help us identify how we might continue to support and develop our ministry to children and families over the coming months and years. The CFCA is by no means the end. It is part of a continuing journey as we as church think about what it means to encourage and enable each other as co-worshippers and disciples, developing gifts, no matter our age.
On August 1st 2018, Joanne Owens and I were visited by Karen Beal, the Diocesan Children’s Work Officer. After a long conversation and assessment of all we are doing at St Cross for children and young people, Karen was satisfied that we had met the threshold for the status of Child Friendly Church to be awarded. The award lasts for a period of three years. By having achieved this award, St Cross church is now recognised by both the Diocese and our local community for the welcome and provision that we offer to children and their families. On Sunday September 30th Karen Beal joined our ‘Worship For Everyone’ and she presented us with the award - a dated certificate as well as logos for display in our building and an electronic version for our website and letterheads, etc.
Here is a short summary of Karen’s observations of our ministry with children along with suggestions for on-going development and some action points.
“St Cross is obviously a church which has sought and continues to seek, ways to offer children opportunities to develop their own discipleship and to develop the involvement of children and young people in various aspect of the life of the church. It has been a privilege to see how this journey has developed so far in a hospitable and welcoming community where children can embark upon and continue their journey of faith. There have been many areas of innovation such as the establishment of Little Stars, involvement with the school and potential for a parenting course and an after-school club. You have a clear vision for children’s ministry and evidence of children’s activities are clearly represented around the church building. You have taken care to follow appropriate safeguarding policies and procedures. You seek ways to include children as co-worshippers in services and I particularly enjoyed seeing some of the resources to go into the new pew bags.
Some points to consider as areas of development;
Seeking out individuals who will regularly pray for the children and leaders; developing a regular commissioning of leaders
Considering how children and their leaders’ gifts might be more involved in leading worship
Seeking more input from children’s leaders and children/young people about services when everyone is altogether
Consider succession planning in children’s ministry roles
Developing an area for nursing mothers
Some action points are;
To ensure an accident book is placed with the First Aid kit
To ensure a First Aid kit is taken on trips
To develop an under-fives area within the main body of the church
To consider adopting a policy of Admission to Communion Before Confirmation
Develop and equip a designated area for baby changing
It just so happens that in the Gospel Reading for this coming Sunday (Oct. 7th 2018) from Mark 10 Jesus says “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.” What a powerful and timely reminder of the importance that Jesus places on children and the priority for us, His church, to do all that we can to be places of welcome, learning and worship for children.