Bye-bye blog

Apart from a short Christmas message next week this is the last blog as my contract as Children and  Youth Work Coordinator for St Davids Diocese comes to an end. Therefore I’d like to share some of my favourite memories with you…

– Commissioning

My time as Diocesan Children and Youth Work Coordinator began with a commissioning service in St Davids Cathedral in January 2016. This was a joyful occasion with many family and friends and important way of setting the role in a context of vocation, mission and ministry within the Diocese.

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– Experience Advent/Easter

The seasonal events have been a huge part of the last three years, marking out the seasons and showing how easy it is to begin work with children through engaging with a local school. Working with Lampeter will always be a special memory as they were so willing to try this very early on in my role and in a new phase for them

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– Visiting groups

Visiting groups has also been a great joy and I am so pleased to have been to nearly all groups which meet across the Diocese and always to receive a warm welcome. There are so many highlights and joys but particular thanks to Little Fishes in Spittal who have included me so well in their ‘family’ and Llandovery youth group – who I only visited once but who welcomed me with warmth, cake and hot chocolate and I just felt like I belonged. This has definitely been the norm for my experience of visiting groups in the Diocese.

– Spree 2016

Another ambitious early project was a visit to Spree in 2016. It was a fantastic time with over 50 young people from the Diocese gathering together. A sunny day and a great memory!

Spree 2016

– Summer Salt

Summer Salt began in summer 2016 and has grown, developed and spread since then. The idea of ‘popping up’ in areas where children and families gather and sharing stories, crafts, games and other ways of sharing the good news of Jesus is a great one and I have particularly fond memories of working with lots of families on the beach in Borth across several summers, as well as sharing in this project in a number of different areas reaching hundreds of children and families.

Borth 2

– Messy Church roadshow 2016

In autumn 2016 I travelled around the Diocese and launched 5 new Messy Churches through this roadshow. Sharing the message of God’s providential goodness through the season of Harvest it has been a joy to see the harvest of this work continuing since then.

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– Youth Forum

The youth forum was another ambitious project. The Church in Wales wanted to establish a Provincial Youth Forum to attend Governing Body in April 2017 so I set up a Diocesan Youth Forum who met for the first time at Diocesan Conference 2016. They are a fantastic group of young people who have made an enormous contribution already to the life of the Diocese as well as representing other young people at Diocesan and Provincial events.

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– Youth events

My time in the Diocese has been peppered with fantastic youth events. I have a great passion for bringing young people together and encouraging them in faith and friendship. Some particular highlights are the activity day we had a Llain in the North of the Diocese and the many bowling events which have brought together so many young people and established long term friendships.

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– Messy Advent

Messy Advent in December 2016 was a huge success with many Messy Churches, Sunday Schools and other groups supporting this celebration. We had an excellent time engaging in crafts, activities and worship together.

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– Team

All of the work would not have been possible without the help and support of a fantastic team. We have had regular away days but our day of prayer and planning each January has been a definite highlight. Praying for children and young people all across the Diocese in St Davids Cathedral has been an important and beautiful way to begin each year. Thank you team!

– Youth residential

I really can’t describe how important this piece of work has been for the Diocese. Two take a Diocesan Youth Residential two years’ running and grow from 25 to 30 young people attending has been a wonderful experience for everyone involved – leaders and young people. This experience is crucial for young people in their journey of faith and I am just delighted to have been a small part of some of those journeys.

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– Party at the Palace 2017

A fantastic event for children, young people and families to come together, celebrate and meet their new Bishop. The rain didn’t stop the feeling of togetherness and we enjoyed worship, activities, a BBQ and much time to celebrate the Diocesan family.

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– Sports days

In the summer of 2017 we trialled an opportunity for archdeaconries to come together to run events for children and had a sports day event in Llandysul, Milford Haven and Dafen. These proved very successful and the children enjoyed thinking about what it means to ‘run the race’ on Jesus’ team!

sports day 102

– Light parties

In a similar way these opportunities to reach children and families with the message of Jesus the light of the world have grown. This autumn we had archidiaconal light parties which reached over 100 children with that message!

lightparty1

– Training days

Our training days have all been great events and helped enable and equip clergy and laity with resources, experience and new ways of ministering with children and young people. We have found that these have often served more than that purpose and just the opportunity to come together has been such a positive one. Our Messy Meet Ups are a particular example of that where community has grown. Our SALT training day in July 2018 was also another great opportunity for sharing and networking.

SALT 2018 group shot_small

– Ascension Day 2018

For me, big groups of children worshipping together is such a powerful experience and Ascension Day 2018 was an amazing time of exploring the theme of water in the Bible. A special memory of the day was the children singing ‘Let the River Flow’

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– Holiday clubs

From offering support to run ‘one day’ holiday clubs in 2016 to helping to run 3 week-long holiday clubs this summer has been a great development. Holiday clubs offer a unique opportunity for consistent relationship building and teaching. I will always remember being part of Crosshands holiday club, not least because they hit me in the face with a pie!

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– County Show

Another summer time memory is working at the County Show – this summer for three days – which offers an opportunity for engagement with huge numbers of children and families. What a great week we had!

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And as the sun sets on my time in Wales…these are just a few highlights for me of the amazing time I have had ministering among you in St Davids Diocese and I am glad to be able to share them with you. Of course, there are many more and I want to thank you all for your generosity, hospitality, prayer and support.

Please do keep in touch clarewilliamsyouthwork@gmail.com

What’s happening and where?

What is happening and where in the Diocese?

Children and Youth Group Directory – Diocese of St Davids

Archdeaconry of Cardigan

Parish/Area/LMA Type of group Age range Meets – when & where Contact name and tel.no
Aberaeron Sunday School 0-10 Sunday mornings at Holy Trinity Aberaeron Revd John Lewis

01545 570433

Aberaeron Sunday Youth Group 11-18 Sunday mornings at Holy Trinity Aberaeron Revd John Lewis

01545 570433

Aberystwyth Sunday group + crèche 0-10 Sunday Mornings at St Michael’s Aberystwyth Revd Mones Farah

01970 617184

Aberystwyth Sunday Youth Group 11-18 Sundays at St Michael’s Aberystwyth Revd Mones Farah

01970 617184

Aberystwyth The Lab After school club 4-11 Wednesdays 4-5.30pm at St Michael’s Aberystwyth Revd Mones Farah

01970 617184

Aberystwyth Parent and Toddler 0-3 1.15 – 3pm Tuesdays at St Michael’s Aberystwyth Revd Mones Farah

01970 617184

Blaenpenal Sunday School 0-16 Sunday Mornings at St David’s Blaenpenal Revd Philip Wyn Davies

01974 299010

Borth Dads & Toddlers 0-3 Weekly Tim Eldon

deanery.outreach@

gmail.com

Borth Sunday School 4-11 Weekly St Matthew’s Borth Tim Eldon

deanery.outreach@

gmail.com

Borth Senior Sunday School

+ Midweek Youth Group (email for more details)

12-17 Weekly at St Matthew’s Borth Tim Eldon

deanery.outreach@

gmail.com

Bro Ystwyth and Mynach Group Messy Church All ages Once a month Revd Margaret Le Grice

01974 261185

Cardigan Sunday School All ages St Mary’s Cardigan Revd John Bennett

01239 615466

Cilgerran Sunday School All ages During Sunday morning service Revd Peter Ratcliffe

01239 612511

Llandre Monthly Youth Group 11-18 Monthly TBC
Penrhyncoch Messy Church All Ages Monthly Rev Lyn Dafis
Lampeter Children’s Church

0-10

Sunday mornings at St Peter’s Lampeter

vhackett@outlook.com
Lampeter Youth Group

0-10 Fridays 6.30-8pm St Peter’s Church Hall Gordnchris@gmail.com
Llanbadarn Fawr Sunday School 0-10 Sunday mornings monthly with the Chapel Revd Andrew Loat

01970 624638

Ciliau Aeron Messy Church All ages Mondays after school Revd Eileen Davies

01559 384248

Llandysul Sunday School

Messy Church

0-10

All Ages

Sunday mornings weekly at St Tysul, Llandysul

Seasonal

Revd Gareth Reid

01559 63874

Llanfihangel Sunday School 0-10 Sunday mornings in St Michaels TBC
Llangrannog Sunday School 0-10 Sunday mornings every other week St Carannog, Llangrannog TBC

Llangrannog Messy Church All ages 6 events per year jdl@jdlconsultancy.co.uk

Llanllwni Sunday School 5-12 Weekly St Luke’s Llanllwni Mrs Janet Howells 01559 395678
Llantrisant Youth Group 11-18 Saturdays once a month Revd Margaret Le Grice

01974 261185

Llaynbydder Sunday School 0-10 Sunday mornings at St Peter’s Miss Kay Davies 01570 480850
Penparcau Sunday School 3-11 Sunday mornings at St Anne’s Revd J-D Laurence

01970 617121

Penparcau Parent & Toddler 0-3 Weekly on a Monday Revd J-D Laurence

01970 617121

Penparcau Film and Pizza Club 11-18 Monthly Revd J-D Laurence

01970 617121

Penboyr Sunday School 0-10 Sunday mornings at St Llawddog TBC

Children and Youth Group Directory – Diocese of St Davids

Archdeaconry of Carmarthen

Parish/Area/LMA Type of group Age range Meets – where & when Contact name and tel. no
Abergwili Messy Church All ages After School at St David’s Abergwili Revd Jenny Britton

01267 238463

Brynaman Junior Church 0-10 Sunday mornings in St Catherine’s, Brynaman Revd Adrian Teale

01269 822275

Brynaman Youth Group 11-18 Midweek Revd Adrian Teale

01269 822275

Burry Port Sunday School 0-10 Sunday Mornings weekly in St Mary’s revnickjones@

gmail.com

Carmarthen Sunday School 0-10 Sunday Mornings weekly in Christchurch Mrs Valerie Kirby (Parish Children & Youth Work Co-ordinator),

01267-234799

Carmarthen Sunday School

Parent & Toddler group

0-10

0-3

Sunday Mornings weekly in St Peter’s

Wednesdays 1.30-3pm

TBC
Cilycwm Parent and Toddler Group 0-3 Weekly in Cilycwm Church Revd Ann McKnight

01550 721009

Crosshands Sunday School 0-10 Sunday mornings weekly in St Anne’s Crosshands Revd Victoria Jones

01269 845505

Dafen Sunday School

Messy Church

School lunchtime clubs

0-10

All Ages

Sunday mornings weekly at St Michael and All Angels

4th Sunday of the month

michellelloyd@

churchinwales.org.uk

Felinfoel Girls Friendly Society 8-25 Monday evenings at Felinfoel Church Hall 6.30-8.30 Revd Glenys Payne

01554 777997

Gorslas Parent and Toddler Group

Messy Church

0-3 Mondays 1.30-2.45pm

4th Sunday

Revd Victoria Jones

01269 845505

Ferryside Sunday School 0-10 Sunday Mornings weekly in St Thomas’ TBC

Gwynfe Sunday School 0-10 Sunday mornings occasionally at All Saints Gwynfe Revd Sian Jones

01558 668918

Kidwelly Sunday School

Messy Church

0-10

All Ages

Sunday mornings

4th Sunday afternoon of the month

deeandtrev@

btinternet.com

Llandeilo Sunday School

Parent and Toddler Group

0-10

0-3

Sunday mornings

Tuesday mornings

msssadler@mac

unlimited.net

Llandovery After School Club 7-11 Fridays 3.45-5pm Ysgol Rhys Prichard Revd Ian Aveson

01550 720524

Llandovery Youth Group 11-18 Fridays Fortnightly 7-8.30pm at The Tonn, Cilycwm Road Revd Ian Aveson

01550 720524

Llandovery ‘Bright Sparks’ Parent and Toddler Group 0-3 Mondays in School Term 9.30-11am Mrs Judith Aveson

01550 720524

Llangadog Sunday School 0-10 Sunday mornings at St Cadog, Llangadog Revd Sian Jones

01558 668918

Llanelli Sunday School 0-10 Sunday mornings St Peter’s Llanelli Capt. Rob Lowe

01554 752378

Llanelli Kids Club 5-11 Wednesdays 4-5.30 Capt. Rob Lowe

01554 752378

Llanelli Youth Group 11-18 Friday Night Youth Drop in Capt. Rob Lowe

01554 752378

Tycroes Parent and Toddler Group 0-3 Revd Victoria Jones

01269 845505

Children and Youth Group Directory – Diocese of St Davids

Archdeaconry of St Davids

Parish/Area/LMA Type of group Age range Meets – where & when Contact name and tel. no
Begelly Sunday Club

Messy Church

0-10

All Ages

Sunday mornings in St Mary’s

Monthly

TBC
Burton Parent and Toddler 0-3 Tuesdays 9.30-11.30 Burton Mission Hall Revd Steve Bessant

01437 890701

Carew Messy Church All ages Ecumenical – several events through the year Revd Carolyn Wood

01646 651970

Haverfordwest Sunday School 0-10 Sunday mornings 9.30 in St Martin’s Church TBC
Haverfordwest Church Army Drop in 11+ Weekdays after school Ruth.busisa@churcharmy.org
Hubberston/Hakin Kids Club 8-11 Fridays 6-7 Church of the Holy Spirit Revd Andy Bookless

01646 696914

Hubberston/Hakin Parent & Toddler Group 0-3 Thursdays 10-11.30am Revd Andy Bookless

01646 696914

Hubberston/Hakin Sunday School 0-10 Sunday mornings weekly in the Church of the Holy Spirit Revd Andy Bookless

01646 696914

Jeffreyston Sunday School 0-10 Sunday mornings weekly in St Jeffrey’s Revd Paul Mackness 01646 651598

Letterston Messy Church 5-11 Monthly on a Sunday afternoon Susanbar5.sb@gmail.com
Llangwm Children’s Club 5-11 Krafty Kids fourth Saturday of the month Llangwm village hall 3.30-5pm Revd Marcus Zipperlen

01437 768365

Llangwm Children’s Club 5-11 Lunchtime club Fridays in Cleddau Reach VC School Revd Marcus Zipperlen

01437 768365

Llangwm Sunday School 0-10 Sunday mornings weekly at St Jerome’s Church Revd Marcus Zipperlen

01437 768365

Milford Haven Sunday School

0-10

Weekly 10am Sundays at St Katharine & St Peter’s Church

liz.bearne@bt

internet.com

Milford Haven Youth Group 11-18 Weekly in term time Sundays 4.30-6pm at St Katharine & St Peter’s Church liz.bearne@bt

internet.com

Neyland Sunday School

Deanery Youth Group

0-10

10+

Sunday mornings weekly in term time at St Clement’s Neyland

Monthly

Revd Alan Chadwick

01646 600227

amandacoombe@churchin

wales.org.uk

Neyland Parent & Toddler

Messy Church

0-3

All ages

Thursday mornings

Half – termly

amandacoombe@churchin

wales.org.uk

Revd Alan Chadwick

01646 600227

Pembroke Dock Messy Church All ages First Saturday of the month 10am -1pm jeremystone@churchin

wales.org.uk

Pembroke Dock Youth Group 11-18 Wednesday lunchtimes in Pembroke School jeremystone@churchin

wales.org.uk

Spittal After School Club

‘Little Fishes’

6-11 Thursday Afternoons 3.30 onwards in Spittal School Miss Jane Hewitt

01437 741246

St Davids Sunday Club

Messy Church

0-10

All Ages

Weekly Sunday mornings at 9.30am, St Davids Cathedral subdean@stdavidscathedral

.org.uk

Tenby Sunday Club 0-13 Weekly in St Mary’s Tenby Revd Andrew Grace

01834 842068

Walwyn’s Castle Messy Church All ages 11am Last Sunday of the month Revd Rhiannon Johnson

01646 636966

Wiston Sunday School 0-10 Every other week in St Aidan’s Church, Wiston Carysmorgan21@gmail.com
Steynton Sunday School All Ages Every Sunday in St Cewydd’s, Steynton

Mrs Lorna Cecil

interactive map

https://www.zeemaps.com/view?group=3245605&x=-4.434629&y=52.115592&z=9

This map gives details of groups which are ‘public access’ (i.e. not groups connected with schools) across the Diocese as well as – where possible – contact details for more information.

What’s happening in 2019?

Plans and Events for 2019

January 2019 sees the end of the contract for the Children and Youth Work Coordinator of the Diocese.

However, there are many things planned for 2019

– Prayer/Networking events – we think this is one of the most important things we can offer. The opportunity for people to come together to pray for children and youth ministry across the Diocese, as well as supporting one another practically and meeting people engaged in similar work to share ideas. Coordinated by Project Workers – amandacoombe@churchinwales.org.uk (St Davids), michellelloyd@churchinwales.org.uk (Carmarthen), hannah@stmikes.net (Cardigan)

Events – February, June and September – dates and venues tbc.

– Messy Meet-ups – these have been well supported and have benefitted those who have attended. We aim to have two events with some outside training from Messy Church BRF as well as catering provided for attendees.
Coordinated by the local teams – contact details tbc.

Events – March 9th 10am-2.30pm in the Community Hall, Pembroke Dock
September tbc.

– Youth work training day – it has been identified in our latest training needs audit that people are seeking training in Christian Youth Work. We are proposing a training day with Scripture Union to look at supporting and resourcing this as well as work in Secondary Schools
Coordinated by the children and youth team – Contact howardllewellyn@churchinwales.org.uk

Event – April – date and venue tbc.

– Youth Residential – following on from two successful residentials, it was felt important to continue this work. Rev Victoria Jones will coordinate this work contact – rev.vjones@gmail.com

Event – April – dates and venue tbc.

– Supporting additional needs training day – this was another training need identified and we are proposing a day to support people in this work within children and youth ministry
Coordinated by the children and youth team – Contact howardllewellyn@churchinwales.org.uk

Event – July – date and venue tbc.

– Ascension Day – continuing the good work which has been done with schools over a number of years providing this celebration day at the Cathedral. This work will be coordinated by Amanda, Project Worker in St Davids Archdeaconry – amandacoombe@churchinwales.org.uk

Event – May at St Davids Cathedral date tbc.

Seasonal Outreach – we recognise that some churches who may not be able to support work all through the year can engage in seasonal outreach. We aim to support those wishing to run Experience Easter, Advent Experience, Holiday Clubs, Summer Salt, Light Parties or any other ‘one off’ events with support and resources
Coordinated by the children and youth team – Contact howardllewellyn@churchinwales.org.uk

Event – as needed – support from Children and Youth Team

– Youth Forum – the establishment of a Diocesan Youth Forum has brought dynamism to the life of the Diocese and has benefitted the young people. This will continued and coordinated by Michelle Lloyd, Project Worker in Carmarthen Archdeaconry – michellelloyd@churchinwales.org.uk

Event – Youth Forum to attend Diocesan Conference 2019

– Further training – through the year feedback will be sought and a further training day provided towards the end of the year to cater for any specific needs either practical e.g. First Aid or ministry specific e.g. music and worship
Coordinated by the children and youth team – Contact howardllewellyn@churchinwales.org.uk

Event – November date, venue and topic tbc.

Christmas starts with Christ

Christmas is the time of year when even the least creative people get excited by arts and crafts. There is so much on offer in every shop, in every school classroom and at home – homemade gifts and cards are a great idea!

Here are our top 10 ideas for crafts which keep the meaning in Christmas

WE LOVE

  1. Danielle’s Place ‘Thumbprint’ craft ‘Jesus lights up my life’ – a great one for toddler groups
    http://www.daniellesplace.com/html/christmas-crafts-jesus-light.html
  2. Bible story printables ‘Names of Jesus’ Christmas bauble decorations – perfect for activities during bigger church services
    http://www.biblestoryprintables.com/BibleCraftsChristmasNamesJesus.html#.WBoSAvkrLIV
  3. Peppermint plum ‘Symbols of Christmas’ kit to explain some Christmas traditions – a great one to work with children during Christmas fayres etc.
    http://peppermintplum.blogspot.com/2010/12/miniature-christmas-symbols-kit.html?m=1
  4. Religious Crafts ‘Nativity Story wheel’ – really good for schools or for older children http://www.religiouscrafts.co.uk/proddetail.asp?prod=48%2F9600&cat=21
  5. Catholic icing ‘baby Jesus cookies’ – try this at home with your own children
    http://www.catholicicing.com/away-in-a-manger-christmas-cookies/
  6. Baker Ross ‘Nativity lanterns – top choice for a Sunday school craft https://www.bakerross.co.uk/nativity-stained-glass-lantern-kits
  7. This site suggests lots of lolly stick crafts including a ‘tree stick ornament ‘ – you could use this with anyone! Use any phrase on the sticks e.g. light of the world, joy to the world, Jesus is the best gift
    https://craftsbooming.com/diy-ideas-and-tutorials-to-recycle-popsicle-sticks-for-christmas/
  8. Crafty morning uses handprints to show Jesus in the manger – this could be good with parents and children together – perhaps during Messy Church https://www.craftymorning.com/cute-christmas-handprint-crafts-for-kids/
  9. The Crafty Classroom has some ‘nativity finger puppets’ another great one for Sunday School – particularly if you do not have enough children to put on a nativity play
    https://thecraftyclassroom.com/2015/12/17/nativity-finger-puppets/
  10. This idea works for ornaments or Christmas cards and is something which can be enjoyed by all ages. If you use Christmas carols as the music you can add a clear message.

 85dfa81014ea943e13579ebbb669f655--christmas-sheet-music-sheet-music-ornaments

Youth work – yesterday, today and forever

The youth forum were asked to give a presentation at this year’s Diocesan Conference. There was no theme they had to speak on but the headings for discussion were largely taken from their engagement at the conference last year. By using title ‘Yesterday, Today and Forever’ it was hoped that the general theme would be the importance of youth work no matter the context, situation, finances or any other change facing the Church. Youth work remains a gospel imperative of the church no matter what. The youth forum prepared the presentation on the morning of the conference and gave a confident delivery just before the Bishop’s presidential address. Here’s what they said;

“We believe that young people need to have a voice within our church community.

We would like to represent young people on Ministry Area Councils

We believe that youth work in the Diocese is better than ever before but we hope that the role of young people will be even more important going forward.

The youth forum is a group of young people aged 13-18 representing areas from all across the Diocese. There is a group of 12 who meet a few times a year. We come together to amplify the voices and opinions of young people in the Diocese. We hope that the youth forum gives a voice to all young people who attend churches in the Diocese. We have met together and shared our own opinions and those of other young people we represent. We have discussed our hopes for the attributes of a new bishop. We have also represented the Diocese at the Governing Body of the Church in Wales.

There are currently a good number of youth activities being organised across the Diocese. A group attended Spree Wales recently where young people had an opportunity to meet others who share the same faith. We have had two youth residentials to Cardiff which has been an inspirational experience where the worship was exciting and relevant. We have also had trips to meet up such as outdoor adventure and bowling, these are great fun and are enjoyed by a lot of young people.

What it’s like being a young person in church.
Our perspective of what church is like; community, repetitive, sometimes people aren’t talking directly to us, alone, dry, we feel involved, too early, belonging, we feel welcomed

What we value about church

  • When activities for young people are provided
  • When church leaders (vicars and youth leaders) give us their time and support
  • Feeling part of the church and meeting new people
  • Opportunities to further our understanding of faith and our relationship with God
  • When we are able to take part in church services

We hope the Diocese would develop

  • The church’s relevance to young people
  • The type of music and worship which is on offer
  • A wider focus on youth work
  • Church engagement with secondary schools
  • Make more pastoral support available for young people

We would like;

To Represent; We ask that the Diocese would do more to give young people a voice by giving us the opportunity to represent other young people by serving on Local Ministry Area Councils. We also ask for the opportunity to speak at this conference again next year and engage with you further.

Creative opportunities; We ask for the Diocese to consider holding a modern, contemporary service we could attend and support. Our proposal is for a monthly service which moves around the Diocese.

To be involved; We ask that you would allow us to be involved in helping and decision making at a local and Diocesan level. Also for more opportunities to be the face of young people in the Diocese and across Wales and to lead the way.

More! We ask for paid youth workers in each Local Ministry Area. We also ask that the Diocese would provide more so that there can be more activities and more of a focus on youth work in every area.”

Be an innkeeper

All Age Talk for Advent/Christmas

This might also work well for a Crib service or other event where children come dressed up as nativity characters.

Gathering

Ask the children if they know what special time of year we are in at the moment. Some of them might talk about Christmas. Remind them of the calendars they have at home with chocolates inside. What are they called? The time we are in at the moment is Advent. This is when we are waiting for Christmas. That’s why we have the calendars to help us count down, get ready and wait for Christmas day.

Activity

But waiting is sometimes difficult isn’t it? Christmas is very exciting and so sometimes we do lots of Christmas things like shopping, parties, eating nice food and our plays about the Christmas story before Christmas day is here! I am finding it very hard to wait this year so I’ve already got out all my costumes for the nativity play. Who would like to come and try some on?

Who is your favourite character in the nativity story? Whatever they respond with, ask the children to come and try on the corresponding costume. Have plenty of shepherds/Joseph, Mary, Angels, Kings, animals (if possible), maybe a star? You may also have a baby Jesus to hold. Remind the children about Jesus – we don’t normally dress up as Jesus but he is an important part of the story.

But who is missing? Do we have all the important characters for the nativity play?
Does anybody know which character we might be missing?
Remind them of the story; Mary and Joseph (we have them) travelled from? Nazareth. To where? Bethlehem. They were travelling on a donkey. When they got to Bethlehem they had to find somewhere to stay didn’t they? Who remembers what happened next?

There might be some children who talk about not being able to find a place to stay – agree, that there were some people who turned Mary and Joseph away. Try and lead them towards the innkeeper – one child might remember or even have played that part in a nativity play.

innkeeper

Teaching

Return to the original idea – was the innkeeper one of our favourite characters? No. We forgot all about the innkeeper but what did the innkeeper do which was really important? He found space for Mary and Joseph so they could have baby Jesus. Even though there was no room at his Inn he said yes, and found a place for them.

That’s a really important message for us to remember at this special time of Advent. As we get ready for Christmas we might be very busy in our lives; putting up decorations, going to parties etc. It might be full up in our homes; presents, Christmas tree etc. It might be full up in our minds; we think lots about Santa, our families, things we are looking forward to. These are all really important, just like all your favourite characters in the story are important.

But we must be like the innkeeper this and every Christmas. Even when it doesn’t seem like there’s space, we must find a place for Jesus in our hearts and in our lives this Christmas.

Prayer

Dear God, please help me to be like the innkeeper and find room for your Son in my heart. Amen.

ADVENTurous ideas

Over the years we have highlighted a number of resources for use during Advent. Although this is a busy time with so much going on in readiness for Christmas, it’s also a really rich opportunity to communicate a deeper message and meaning to the celebrations.

Advent-2015

We would really encourage you to use at least one of the following in your church, school or community this Advent – let us know how you get on and send some photos of your children and young people enjoying their ADVENTure together.

10 Amazing ADVENTurous ideas!

1. Las Posadas http://www.mommymaestra.com/2010/12/posada-lesson-plans-crafts-activities.html
A very traditional idea using figures of Mary, Joseph and the donkey which travel around homes, individuals, classrooms during Advent exploring the idea of the coming season.
WE LOVE the idea of using this in school and each class receiving a visit from the Holy Family for a day.
2. Shepherd on the search https://shepherdonthesearch.com/
A story experience with a lovely character but with the real meaning of finding joy at Christmas.
WE LOVE the idea of giving out small shepherds to parents to use in a similar way to elf on the shelf.
3. Jesse Tree https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/253263403/25-felt-jesse-tree-ornaments-for-advent?gpla=1&gao=1&&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=shopping_uk_en_gb_christmas-home_and_living&utm_custom1=b37b4d19-166b-4838-ad4f-11ea5d939b1c&utm_content=go_1469261683_58093102758_283030015338_pla-303628061699_c__253263403engb&gclid=Cj0KCQjwguDeBRDCARIsAGxuU8Z5Ym2-tg7DPH7A-jh5LQ08iLiraGjYrPdTFgzLXymh8jmXnJd_QP4aAgWmEALw_wcB
Another traditional way of counting down through Advent but also exploring the themes and characters of the Old Testament, the prophets and everything leading up to Jesus’ birth.
WE LOVE these beautiful felt ornaments – but you can buy other types, print or make your own.
4. Reverse Advent calendar https://www.goodtoknow.co.uk/family/reverse-advent-calendar-94087
A way of giving at Christmas – with a difference. Collect food or small items, one each day and then give the whole lot to someone at Christmas.
WE LOVE the idea of using this as a family or with young people to explore themes of social action.
5. The Real Advent Calendar https://meaningfulchocolate.co.uk/pages/real-advent-calendar
The best of both worlds – chocolate and the meaning behind the celebrations. This Advent calendar is also available to buy in some of the larger supermarkets and is a really important campaign to support.
WE LOVE the idea that every child in the Diocese would receive one of these calendars through their churches.
6. Just hay in the manger? https://www.cpo.org.uk/product.aspx?prod=Z3821CY&cat=5010
A great giveaway exploring the truth behind the traditional nativity play- ideal for use at school or church nativity plays
WE LOVE what resources CPO have on offer so make sure you check out all the other things available.
7. Mince Pie serviettes https://www.cpo.org.uk/product.aspx?prod=V225SE&cat=5010
If you do nothing else this year, why not buy these to serve your mince pies in after your carol service or other event?
WE LOVE this idea – edible evangelism…mmmmmmmmmm
8. Journey to the manger https://www.eden.co.uk/shop/journey-to-the-manger-advent-calendar-4337165.html?site_id=162595&adtype=pla_with_promotion&device=c&product_id=4337165&gclid=Cj0KCQjwguDeBRDCARIsAGxuU8a-kcULNWkqUJigyn5L77goOUURUURQukWlxisi8doVRAtZ2oGFLjkaAm2hEALw_wcB
A book with reflections, stories, activities, stickers, puzzles and a poster
WE LOVE that you could also use this book in your parent & toddler groups this Advent season
9. ADVENTure https://theresource.org.uk/product/adventure-family-devotions-2/
Available from our good friend Ali Campbell this book is perfect for family devotionals during the season
WE LOVE that this is a free publication – make use of it!
10. Instant Nativity https://www.biblesociety.org.uk/get-involved/christmas/2018/instant-nativity/
Every year the Bible society produce excellent ‘no rehearsal’ or ‘pop up’ nativity plays. As Advent is so busy this is a great resource and is available free. We would love to see your production!
WE LOVE using this in the run up to Christmas, or even afterwards as a reminder that Christmas day is just the beginning of the story.

Inspire

Care for the Family and ‘The Kitchen Table Project’ have produced a fantastic session to run with parents in your church about how to inspire faith at home. This is so important as despite all the excellent work churches do with children and young people, they do of course spend much more time at home with their families. Therefore it is vital to equip parents/carers with the tools they need to help their children grow in faith.

Here is how to run an inspire session in your church

Inspire

The Inspire session outline below gives you the timings for a 90 minute standalone session. However, some groups may prefer to allow two hours, for a more relaxed pace with extra time for discussion.

You may find it helpful to write or print out the two questions listed below, ready to display at the relevant part of the session.

Q: Why is your faith important to you?

Q: Why is it important to you that your child develops a faith that lasts?

Equipment

To lead the Inspire session you will need:

  1. A laptop, TV or a projector with screen and speakers
  2. Post-it notes
  3. Pens
  4. Paper
  5. Bible – to read scriptures referred to in discussion cards
  6. Play dough or plasticine, pipe cleaners, Lego (optional)
  7. Different coloured sweets or fruit (see prayer activity)
  8. Elements that help faith develop (available to download and print)
  9. Discussion cards (available to download, print, and cut to size)
  10. Picture of a light bulb and a question mark (available to download and print)
  11. Take home sheets for parents (available to download and print)

Welcome

As people arrive welcome them with any refreshments you may have provided.

Allow a little bit of time for people to mingle and chat before you officially start the session. As you begin, introduce yourself and anyone else you may have helping you. Set them at ease by explaining a bit about what the Inspire session is and how it will run. Emphasise that it’s not about being shown the ‘right’ way to do things, but an opportunity for them to share their own experiences and ideas and learn from each other, as well as from the material on the video. Reassure the group that they don’t have to say anything if they don’t want to. It will also help to remind everyone about the need to listen to one another and to be respectful of different ideas and experiences.

Welcome to the Inspire session where we will be sharing ideas about how we inspire our children’s faith by bringing God into the everyday. We believe that as parents we have an amazing opportunity to nurture our children’s faith, but we also know it’s not always easy. It’s important that we do not feel guilty about what we have or haven’t done because we’re not always going to get it right. Each day is a new opportunity. God loves our children even more than we do, and we need his help, guidance and grace to go on this journey together. Let’s start by praying.

Introduction

In pairs, ask parents to share their own name, names and ages of their children and something they do to relax. Make it clear that each person will introduce their partner. This encourages good listening and it is often easier to speak about someone else.

Hand out materials such as play dough, pipe cleaners or Lego to each person. Ask parents to make a small model of their family or something that they would associate with their family. Explain that they can keep it out as a reminder of why they are here, or play with it throughout the session for fun or distraction!

Focus question

Q: What do you hope to get out of today?

Ask parents to write their answers on a Post-it note and keep it until the end of the session when we will look at whether the session achieved this.

5 min

Video – Part 1

Show the first part of the video. Andy Frost and Becky Denharder look at what the Bible says about how we can help our children develop their own faith in God and talk about how we as parents have the greatest influence over our children.

The video will prompt you to pause on the image of the ‘pie chart’.

Discussion

As the group look at the pie chart on the screen explain that although attending a good church is beneficial to developing our children’s faith, this is a small part of how our children can experience faith. The amount of time we spend with them shows that we have the greatest influence and an amazing opportunity to inspire faith in our everyday lives.

Encourage parents to discuss the questions below in twos or threes and then ask for feedback from the group.

Q: Do you feel you have the biggest influence on your children?

Q: Where do you feel that your children get most of their spiritual input from?

Activity: Why does it matter to us?

Ask the group to discuss their answers to the following questions with a partner.

Then invite parents to share in the whole group if they would like to.

Q: Why is your faith important to you?

Q: Why is it important to you that your child develops a faith that lasts?

Invite parents to write down the answers to these two questions on a Post-it note.

You can display these questions as a reminder.

Bring it to a close by acknowledging that our faith is personal and important to all of us, and we are here today because we are eager for our children to experience a relationship with God for themselves.

5 mins

Activity: Hurdles

But let’s be real. Even though we have identified how important our faith is to us and why we want our children to develop their own faith, this is not always easy to achieve in the midst of everyday life!

Ask parents to write down any hurdles they face when trying to inspire their children’s faith. Encourage them to write one hurdle per Post-it note but use as many Post-it notes as they want and then stick them in the middle of the table/ room or on a wall.

Give a short time for people to look at the Post-it notes and identify common themes. In itself this will help parents realise they are not the only one to experience a particular hurdle.

The following themes are likely to come up.

  1. Not enough time to spend with my child
  2. Family time devoted to other activities
  3. Needing help with knowing what to do
  4. Being worried about doing it wrong
  5. Not a good enough example as a Christian

Video – Part 2: Hurdles

Play the second part of the video.

Q: How do you feel after hearing about some ways we can overcome our hurdles?

Take some feedback.

It can be encouraging to understand that inspiring faith in the everyday is not about carving out large quantities of time, or having all the answers to difficult questions, but finding ways to show faith in everyday life!

5 min

Recap the four elements that build faith

Go through the four elements with the group and emphasise how we need the fifth element of prayer to underpin all we do.

Use the five downloadable A4 cards and place each one in the centre of the group as you explain the concepts. These elements are also on the downloadable take home sheet that you can print to give to parents.

Home – A warm, affirming family where children feel safe, loved and accepted gives a secure foundation for their faith to grow.

Be real – It’s not about expertise. We are not perfect, but living out our faith in a genuine way inspires children to want this for themselves.

Be intentional – Finding simple ways to involve God naturally in everyday life encourages our children to know and love him.

Belong – Involving children at church and building relationships with others helps our children to feel they belong in God’s family.

Prayer – Praying for our children and asking God to guide us as we parent is so important. We can look for opportunities to help them connect with God, but ultimately they are his children and he wants that relationship with them.

Activity: Inspire cards

Explore these elements in more detail using the discussion cards.

Place the cards on the table. They are designed so that anyone can choose one and ask the question to the group, which you can then all discuss. You may find the group wants to focus on just one or two questions or they may be keen to explore lots! If there are specific questions that you would like the group to focus on, you can choose these beforehand.

There is an idea on each card to help conversation if it is proving difficult to answer, but in most cases the discussion will flow naturally.

They can be used to think about different ways that we can inspire our children’s faith and to also think about which element from the five above they impact upon. Many will relate to more than one element, and it will be good to explore how they overlap.

Prayer activity

Using sweets that come in different colours (Starburst, Smarties etc.) or four different types of fruit, introduce a prayer activity that you could try at home with your children.

Assign a colour to a category to pray for, for example:

  • Green or grapes – pray for school
  • Red or strawberry – pray for friends
  • Purple or blueberry – pray for character
  • Yellow or banana – pray for their future

Take turns to choose a sweet or piece of fruit, and then pray for your child in line with the topic related to that item. This is a fun, simple way to pray with your children at home. For example, parents could invite their children to thank God for one thing about hobbies and games; people they love; creation; or Jesus, depending on which colour is picked.

Conclusion

Ask parents to look back at their original Post-it note where they wrote down what they wanted to get out of the session.

Encourage parents to share if they got out what they expected or something different.

Display the light bulb and question mark. Ask parents to write the following down on Post-it notes and stick them to the relevant symbol:

  1. Light bulb – one thing that you have learnt from the session or one thing that

you are going to start doing at home

  1. Question mark – any questions you have or anything you would like to explore further

Please take photographs of your ‘light bulb’ and ‘question mark’ Post-it notes and send to us at mail@cff.org.uk or post on our Facebook page. This will help us with evaluating and improving the session.

Use this opportunity to pray to bring the session to a close. Pray that our children might grow up to know and love God. Pray for each other as parents, that God would help us to model our faith and give us practical ways in which we can signpost our children to him.

What comes next?

Thank everyone for coming. You can ask the group what, if anything, they would like to do next.

Some parents may like to continue to support one another by setting up a Facebook or WhatsApp group where they can share ideas and encourage one another. Or they may like to continue to meet together to explore the discussion cards further, pray for their children or to do a more in-depth course, like the Bible Reading Fellowship Parenting for Faith course available at http://www.parentingforfaith.org.

It would also be good to encourage mums and dads to follow the Kitchen Table Project on social media for regular ideas and encouragement and to keep up to date with all our new resources.  @ktpcampaign www.kitchentable.org.uk

The meaning is in the waiting

Advent Experience

Once again this year we are promoting the Advent Experience as an exciting and creative opportunity for parishes and LMAs to work together with their local schools. A chance to focus on the idea of waiting in the busy time of preparing for Christmas

The project works best if;

  • You have a reasonably large church building you can set up 6 visual stations in
  • You have a school within walking distance of the church
  • You have a team of around 5/6 volunteers who are willing to set up and lead the experience
  • You can provide the following resources; a large Advent wreath, large nativity figures of Mary and Joseph, a large toy sheep, a manger, plenty of cushions/kneelers for children to sit at (we provide all the other resources you need!)

However, if you are struggling with one of these it shouldn’t be a barrier, the experience has been run in a school hall, for a very small group of children (therefore needing fewer volunteers), with pared down visual stations and can be adapted in a variety of ways.

Advent Experience is a programme written by Clare Williams along the same lines as the Experience Easter programme written by Gloucester Diocese. This can be used and adapted for churches to work with their local schools to re-tell the wonderful and beautiful story of Christmas from the Christian viewpoint of Advent—watching and waiting.

The story is divided into 6 sections each with a title which forms part of a visual ‘station’. The children make a journey round the first 5 stations in small groups, also taking part in a craft activity to support their learning. The final station ‘The Gift’ takes place with the whole group present. Music may be played to indicate when the groups need to move on.

The whole visit should take around an hour and three quarters. Teachers are encouraged to take part with pupils.

Each station session involves;

– Gathering

– Opening question/thoughts

– Story

– Ask and think

– Reflective activity

– Prepare to move on

and should take around 10 minutes.

It is a simple storytelling tool which works very well with primary age children. It can be used all across Foundation Phase and KS2 and is very adaptable to the needs, ages and resources of the group using it.

It also makes use of the station leaders’ own skills and experience and each ‘script’ is a guide to be used and adapted.

It is important to maintain a calm and reflective atmosphere throughout the visit. There will be a short introduction before the children are split into groups to help set the scene and let the group know your expectations of them. Most of all it is something to experience and enjoy together!

Come along to our training event on Saturday 3rd November 10.30am – 12.30pm to learn more, see the Experience set up and have a ‘walk through’ training session. Ask questions and share experiences. You can also pick up your bilingual resource packs there. Please let us know if you plan to attend, light refreshments will be provided.20161128_101003_resized

Look out for a write-up of this event in Pobl Dewi next month. We hope lots of you will use this fantastic resource in the next month. If you need some help let us know and we will even come and help you run it!