My initial reaction to being asked if I would consider being a Mission Apprentice was one of, well I love being in church and doing churchy things but I’m already working at a local preschool and would have to reduce my hours at the school to pursue a different calling, it was a decision I had to face….so I applied for the position and to my surprise (but not God’s) I got it!
My first role was to develop the Ark ‘Stay and Play’ session which runs for local families. We are now seeing a growth in the number of parents and carers bringing their children along to enjoy toast, drinks, free play, bible stories, craft, songs and socialising.
When I started as a Mission Apprentice, I was really keen to start up ‘Places of Welcome’, but we had to wait until a new kitchen was installed along the wall of the church.
It was frustrating having to wait, particularly when I was seeing and hearing about all the fantastic activities the other Mission Apprentices had started up, but it did give me time for reflection and relationship-building. Now it is installed and was well worth the wait!
After we have packed away the Ark stay and play we immediately start to set up for our afternoon session, our Place of Welcome which was a Church Urban Fund (CUF) initiative, where anyone can come along for a friendly face, a cup of tea or coffee, eat cakes and enjoy quizzes, craft and a conversation if and when they need it.
I couldn’t run either of these sessions without the help of the amazing volunteers who support me, we are blessed here in Amington with such generous volunteers, baking cakes, setting up, clearing away and joining in to help tackle loneliness and isolation locally.
One of the things I love the most is the ordinariness of our sessions. One minute we’re playing Christian music, and the next, rock and roll. Some people do come here and want to find out more about our church services, and several parents who come to the Stay and Play have had their children baptised here, but really, it’s all about the joy of bringing people together in community and in the church. It’s a great feeling.
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.1 Peter 4:8-10 (NIV)
Welcome is easy, the challenge is to speak about the Kingdom of God. This is my prayer: “to find opportunity to speak about the Good News that is Jesus Christ”.