Lack of food doesn’t get Halesworth Messy Church down!

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halesworth rRegulars of Messy Church groups across the globe know that sharing food plays an important part in Messy Church sessions. Without the ability to share food in online sessions, would people still come to Halesworth URC’s Messy Church?

Lucy Moore, one of the original founders of Messy Church, describes eating together as “one of the main aspects of Messy Church that gives it identity”.

Food brings people together in a way nothing else does. It's central to all cultures and traditions, especially those expressed the Bible. Jesus feeds a crowd which is following him, when his disciples tell him they're hungry. He informed his disciples of his impending death during a Passover meal and appeared to his disciples, after his resurrection, ready to cook a meal for them.

It's hard for those involved with Messy Church to imagine coming together without sharing food, and so the Messy Church team at Halesworth URC in Eastern Synod was worried, as they moved sessions online, that people wouldn't come along if they couldn't eat together.

Before lockdown, the team had been running twice a month for a year and half, building up good relationships with families who came on a regular basis. As lockdown began, the church wanted to continue to support the families, and started to think about how they could do this virtually.

At the start, leaders posted packs out to all the families with the materials needed for crafts and creative prayer activities. The group then started meeting on Zoom every week, with the children and young people growing more happy and confident as the weeks have gone by. Online sessions include a couple of songs, a story, input from Stevie the puppet, creative prayer, colouring and craft.

After a couple of sessions, however, leaders realised that more craft materials could be included in the packs if they were hand delivered by the leaders themselves, which has enabled them to get to know the families so much more, as they have stood on doorsteps (social distancing observed) and had much longer conversations than would be possible in the busyness of Messy Church in the church building. There are also parents who sometimes bring their children to Messy Church but are not involved themselves. This new format has allowed leaders to communicate with those parents.

Attendance varies because of other commitments which families have, so Zoom sessions are now recorded and shared on YouTube, so that others can join in when convenient. Uptake has been positive and connections have been made with families who have not been involved with Messy Church previously.

Everyone is looking forward to sharing food again soon, when they are able to do so safely, but in the meantime, the inability to do so isn't getting them down.

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