Messy Church 'in a bag' and DIY Easter gardens

Church is most certainly changing – even that of the ‘messy’ kind. While many children and their families are feeling disappointed that their regular ‘Messy Church’ get-togethers have been cancelled, leaders around the diocese are finding fun, new and interactive ways to bring creative and crafty worship direct to people’s homes.

A few churches were even able to get ahead of the game before we went into lockdown:

In Countesthorpe, St Andrew’s Church gave out Messy-Church-in-a-bag, inspired by a Facebook post from a church in Cornwall.
Its team of leaders decided which activities from their previously planned session would be easy for people to make and do at home, and set about putting together special packs full of fun crafts, activity sheets, prayers and colouring, based on the theme of ‘Mothers and Others’. A Messy Church sticker on each bag also read, ‘With Love’.

About 25 bags were given out to the families who came to pick up the goodies – leaders on one side of a table, the congregation on the other - all keeping their distance. Messy Church leader, June Ainge, said those who received the bags were really thankful.
“I think most were still in shock as to how quickly the virus and this country's response to it, had occurred,” she explained.
“We couldn't invite folks into church - as the building had already been closed for public use - but it was good to offer a calm, loving, listening ear as some people were really quite bothered.”

As a special gesture, for those who couldn’t make it, the leaders went that extra mile and dropped off bags at homes around the parish.

June said: “I believe the whole team felt it was really important to let our Messy congregation know that we wanted to be there for them as much as we could. We are continuing to post offers of support on Facebook.”

They also cleared out their food cupboard of anything that was due to expire, such as cake and spread, and gave it away.
“One large family, who was finding it difficult to buy enough food, was truly grateful,” said June. “We have been running our Messy Church continuously for six years and six months, and this is the first time we've ever had to cancel. Some of our families have been coming for most of that time. It was really important to show them that we are all in this situation together. We can't fix it, but we can walk with them.”

{Please remember that with current Government guidlelines on travel outside the home, it is no longer permitted for churches to to make door-to-door deliveries of leaflets or other materials.} 

Across the diocese, in Thorpe Arnold, some of the families who would usually attend the ‘Thorpe Connect’ fresh expression of Church once a month are preparing Easter gardens at home, to share with each other online.

Pioneer Minister, Carol Parker, who leads this fresh expression of Church in the Melton district, said: “When we were told that we shouldn’t meet I asked the families if they were happy to do their own gardens. Those who wanted to had a tin foil tray delivered to them and we shared ideas on our Facebook page with each other.”

She also gave everyone who attends a book of the Easter story. Carol regularly connects with families through social media, offering prayers and thoughts. She is hoping to lead the next session online and has asked the group to have their gardens ready for that day so they can share them with each other.

“The Easter garden is a hands on way of telling the Easter story,” said Carol. “Most of the families who come to Thorpe Connect have never been to a traditional church, so this could be their first Easter with the true meaning being explained to them.

“Doing it in a family-friendly way doesn’t mean dumbing it down; it means taking it right back to basics so everyone can understand. Having something physical like the garden during, and after Easter, is a really good way to remind them of this story.”



First published on: 31st March 2020
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