Through its partners in mission programme, Synod is supporting the work of the United Reformed Churches at Ponteland and St John’s, Wideopen, with children and families.
At the end of her first year in post, Children and Family Worker Hannah Middleton reports on what has been achieved.
During my first year there has been much to do developing links both within the churches and the wider community.
At Wideopen I have participated in all age family worship where a table is always available for children to have some form of activity which is linked to the theme of the service. We have also enjoyed making a joyful noise with the use of percussions instruments. A display is often left at the back of church for all to reflect upon.
During August we tested the waters with a three day Holiday Club this attracted a small number of children some we had not met previously. This also allowed me the opportunity to work ecumenically with helpers from other churches which was a joy; my thanks to all who helped with this venture.
Community links have included Hazelwood Community Primary School where I lead regular assemblies and have encouraged the children to participate in competitions such as ‘Fantastic Mum’s’, this led to a very colourful display in church for all to enjoy. We also had the pleasure of making greater links with school during their nativity service where once again angels were beautifully made by the children for display in St John’s Church.
I have visited the Beavers, Cubs and Brownies and look forward to further visits this year, following an initiation from the Beaver leader I am looking forward to taking this group through their ‘Faith’ badge later this year.
At Ponteland ‘F.R.O.G.’ (Fully Relying on God) Group was formed providing a safe place for young children to meet and engage with a craft, story and discussion on a biblical theme. This group has proved to be very popular indeed the phrase often repeated by parents and grandparents alike is ‘This group is a Godsend’. I hope in many ways it is as each week a bible story or a contemporary story with a bible undertone is delivered to the children.
With the introduction of the group came shy or very bouncy children; during this year their confidence has developed allowing them all to become individuals who are willing to share and listen as part of a team, while also comfortable to ask questions and make suggestions all of which is very encouraging. Wherever possible I like to display and share what the children have been doing, I hope like me you enjoy their wonderful creativity it is a joy to them and a great pride to us all.
For our youngest children we always offer a play-dough table where they too can link into the theme of the week through creative play. This project has enabled both me and Revd Ross to forge relationships with the families who access the church buillding; I have found these pastoral opportunities very heartening indeed.
I also have regular input into Darras Hall First School for assemblies they also embraced the ‘Angel’ theme for Christmas. I was delighted we were able to forge a link with Jill Errington’s Dance School for our Christingle Service which was a wonderful opportunity to reflect upon the real reason for Christmas; it was lovely to have so many families attending.