MESSY CHURCH started in 2004, in St Wilfrid's, Cowplain, near
Portsmouth. It has become ecumenical, and now has branches around
the world, from Denmark to Canada and Australia. The principle is
simple: to attract people of all ages who do not normally enter a
church to come and have a fun time while learning about Jesus.
Often, but not always, it is held in a church building. Sessions
are usually once a month, and are about two hours long. There is a
long period for arts and crafts, which can be as messy as you like,
and are based on a biblical story; a short period of simple
worship, including prayer, storytelling, drama, and songs; and a
sit-down meal for all.
One of the latest to be launched is in a rural area that covers
a group of parishes in the diocese of Ely. It
takes placeafter school, in the village hall in Wereham, and 25
children came with their parents to the first session, where arts
and crafts, storytelling, worship, and acting out of the story of
the Good Samaritan (above) were followed by a
"It's been a continuation of work with families in our local
community, following a revamping of our Christmas carol services to
involve more children who do not normally attend church," the
Priest-in-Charge, the Revd Barbara Burton, says. "That was
successful, with attendance numbers rising from about ten the
previous year to 209 at last year's carol service.
"Being enabled to set up Messy Church helps us to continue to
support families in our community, and I look forward to seeing how
this benefits us all."
There has been an increasing number of baptisms at Wereham
Church, the Director of Mission for Ely, the Revd Peter Wood, says,
and "the village-hall committee had begun to recognise that
school-aged children were not being sufficiently provided for.
"So the concept of Messy Church was welcomed by both groups. The
children have been given a place to socialise, and the church an
opportunity to continue to work with these families."