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More messiness

04 April 2014

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 sausage-and-mash supper.

"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."

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