Solihull URC are far from woolly in their approach to children's work

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Solihull United Reformed Church has only two children regularly in worship on Sunday mornings but they certainly have not let that mean that they are not engaging with children in the local community. Linda Faber tells us more about their innovative work with local schools: 

"The opportunity arose to reimagine our work as a church and change how we would use our buildings to better share the Good News of Jesus Christ. As part of this new thinking we looked at how we might engage with local schools. So far we have only managed to get the attention of one school, but as we are relatively few in number, one is proving to keep us busy enough as they are so enthusiastic. In the last 18 months during each term and additionally at Christmas and Easter we have had opportunities to engage with this school in a broader way than we ever hoped or imagined. We have had our offers of activities taken up by every year group and they keep coming back and asking for more. I want to tell you about what we did for Easter. 

When I came to the church 3 years ago I brought with me a small set of knitted figures that I had made for use when telling stories. On starting a Parent and Toddler group as part of our re-stimulation of the church’s work, and setting up our Story Room in what had once been the Choir Vestry, I had got some of the church members to knit a larger set of figures (and sheep—we have lots of sheep; they are in many stories). As Easter approached and we were looking at how we might tell the Easter story with the school we wondered ‘What if we knitted more figures to enable the telling of the whole Easter story?’ We actually needed a whole lot more as the story was divided into 10 and a complete set for each segment of story was needed. Jesus was in 7 of the segments so we needed 7 identical Jesus figures so as to not confuse the children, similarly we made multiples for some of the disciples who pop up in more than one place.

The story was written up twice; once in a manner suitable for Infant age children and again for Junior age children. Each segment of the story has a numbered bag with the story card and its figures. The idea was adaptable and appealing enough to be used with the nursery (to whom we told the story and they held the figures) and various classes right to the top of primary school (who practiced their part of the story and then told it themselves to the rest of the class). The lessons were very well received by the children and the staff.

Knitting the figures was a small commitment. The people are about 20cm (8”) tall. We began with a basic doll knitting pattern and then made up our own patterns to dressed them appropriately. We used more  advanced skills to make up the other pieces, sometimes by adapting bits of suitable patterns available to us, sometimes making them up from scratch. Eventually it all came together.

Knitting these figures is an on-going project and we will make other pieces, as and when they are needed, so we can have bags for other stories too. Whether we use them in schools, with our Sunday children or in our Parent and Toddler group they are easy to use and immensely popular."