Young people and work with them has always featured strongly in the life of our community. As a part of our commitment to inclusion, St Mary’s offers communion before confirmation to suitably prepared children. There is, perhaps, a stronger Ministry to the younger age range, than to the older 11-25 group, largely because of demand - we have very many more younger children that in the Young Person categories, although now there are a few who have grown up in the church and ready to engage with others, in church and events.
The PCC oversees the children and young people's work through the newly revamped Youth Task Group. This is led by a PCC member who works with a group of interested people who are able to help. the Convenor nurtures all involved and works to engender the basic values of our Church and Vision in all - people, activities and Community. Sadly like many organisations where time, work/life demands and more competing activities for the group which often sees parents, guardians and young people dashing here and there and squeezing attending church in, there has been a reduction in people available to help but no loss of commitment to the children and young people despite this. Finding new ways to nurture and enthuse are always a welcome challenge for us here.
A number of people within our community Ministry to children as one of their essential desires to see in a new Incumbent and expressed this as “someone who could help St Mary’s look at ideas and drive to help build on existing, and develop new, approaches to Youth Ministry” – what do we need to do, or do we have a need?
The group largely oversee the running of the Sunday School and Creche, any special events for this important group within our community and work to ensure they are included in all our activities as Church, where appropriate.
(0 – 3 year olds) usually meets when the 9.30am Sunday Service is in progress, in the Church Community Centre. It can be set up at other times when there is an identified need to do so - for example during Parish Awaydays or similar. Children are well looked after and can enjoy a well stocked play area. There are baby changing facilities in the Church Community Centre. We are strict about ensuring we have the correct ratios so parents are encouraged to share the experience on a rota basis with a suitably approved leader.
(3 – 12 year olds) meets on Sundays at 9.30am
usually in the second room of the Church Community Centre,. Sunday school students are entertained with Bible stories, craft activities, games, singing and acting. We follow recognised courses and materials are currently prepared by retired teacher who has undertaken this role for a number of years. each session is outlines in basic format so that we can harness the diversity of each leader's individual gifts and they then have the opportunity to tweak the lesson to their particular style and prepare the activities and resources accordingly. We have a rota system and again, ensuring the correct support is in place is paramount to the wellbeing of both children and the adults who work with them.
During normal services, children in Creche and Sunday School are brought back into the Church to join their parents (or guardians) in time for communion or to receive a blessing. Often the Sunday School children will be asked to share with the congregation at the end of the service, explaining, or demonstrating in other fashion such as singing a song, or showing crafts, what they have learnt.
Creche and Sunday School meet most weeks, except on the 3rd Sunday of each month, when there is an informal, inclusive themed Family Service, supported by the Choir and Music Director. These services are developed to appeal to people of all ages - the 'Family' of God, but often have a focus to aid the younger members in their understanding of the subject. These services, in particular are where the opportunity for children to try leadership roles under guidance occurs, and they are encouraged to join in by reading lessons, participating or designing their own dramatisations of material or similar, undertaking preparing and leading prayers, or crafts, or by joining the Choir which is informal at these services. . They are also encouraged to take similar role in ordinary services where possible, for example leading intercessions or undertaking a reading, taking the collection, Sacraments etc up as Offerings, and singing with the choir in the more formal context of the regular Liturgy.