Originally published in the May 2014 Issue of the defunct Trinity Magazine
The reason why I decided to make a diary of my experiences at Messy Church for 2014 is because there were nine sessions due to take place as opposed to just six in 2013. The theme for the first Messy Church session of 2014 was ‘Christingle’ and although I was once again handling food, I was performing the less demanding and less messy task of helping the visitors to make their Christingles. Having performed the same task as well as make the Giant Christingle last year if memory serves me correct, I was expecting my efforts this year to be successful. Maybe not quite as successful as the previous session was but 22 Christingles made by and for both the children and the adults (and my family I hasten to add) still exceeded my expectations.
The theme for the second session of the year was ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream-coat’ and it was quite soothing to listen to the songs from the musical while the proceedings were taking place. While the main task was obviously creating a coat of many colours, my task was to make rainbow biscuits which basically involved decorating some Rich Tea Biscuits with various colours of roll-out icing, cake decorations, dolly mixtures and mini-marshmallows. I was placed between the choir stalls but there was plenty of room for the families attending to make use of what I had to offer them and once again, I had a relatively successful run with both the children and adults having a go. I think the number of takers reached the 20 mark again if not came close if I remember right.
On to session number three and this time, the theme was ‘The Virgin Mary’ in preparation for Mothering Sunday. A nice sunny day meant a slightly lower number of visitors on this occasion but I was placed conveniently in the middle of the Main Hall and was making chocolate people. This involved dipping gingerbread men in melted chocolate and then decorating them and it proved popular enough for the children attending to come back for a second attempt.
I have always helped out at Messy Church mainly to not feel shy around the visitors and it seemed to be working as some visitors found me highly amusing and chatty at the ‘Mary’ session and it continues to work to this day.
Originally published in the August 2014 Issue of Trinity
For the beginning of the 2nd part of my 2014 Messy Church Diary, I began with the Easter Session on Good Friday. As in 2013, I was assigned to make Easter nests but this time, I found a more effective way of melting the chocolate without using the microwave so I was placed near the entrance to the Main Hall. I also took part in the Walk of Witness beforehand. 22 Easter nests were made in total, including ones for me and my family and one child who came back for seconds. It was not nearly as hectic as the Christmas 2013 Session was but once again, I had to re-stock halfway through but that just goes to show that it is worth the effort to ensure that the people who attend Messy Church enjoy themselves and continue to attend.
The next session focused on ‘Daniel in the Lion’s Den’ and this time, I gave the children a choice, a cheesy lion on a cracker, an icing lion on a biscuit or a gingerbread man to represent Daniel. Some of the children decided to do both a lion and a Daniel but they kept pinching all the food I had brought for making the Daniels and Lions, in spite of the usual end-of-session tea! Were they just being greedy or did the approaching summer have something to do with it? Whatever happened, a bit of shopping for more supplies was required before the next session. There were not as many children present as usual but I still had 20 contributions all in all including my own as a demonstration.
The next session was the Summer one. It was also a trip into the unknown as it took place at Christ The King, a much smaller space than Holy Trinity so the tables were arranged in a semi-circle. I chose the table next to the entrance so the visitors would see me straight away. The theme was ‘Jonah’ so I improvised by moulding icing dolphin shapes into whales as a more suitable cutter proved impossible to find. My supply of icing was stretched to its limit, even after re-stocking as the number of contributions remained the same from last session. I also offered the children some gingerbread men to represent Jonah but these were not as popular. A clashing commitment meant I had to leave the end-of-session barbeque early but I still had a beef-burger before leaving.
In the 3rd and final part of my Messy Church Diary for 2014, I began with the first session after the Summer break for which the subject was ‘Ruth’. The Summer break had really taken its toll as I almost forgot about the session completely and my preparations were a bit last minute. Just to be on the safe side, I restocked on icing and Rich Tea Biscuits beforehand. I sat at the table at the front of the Main Hall between the choir stalls. This time, I had to make heart shapes and found some heart shaped cutters at Hobby Craft. Attendance was much lower than usual and there were only 8 children present, all of whom made a biscuit and with my mum helping me, we just reached double figures, making our own biscuits. A bit disappointing by our usual standards but off-days are natural.
‘Jude’ was the next theme so this was effectively a Halloween session and I brought every scary cake decoration I could find to go with the ‘Doom’ biscuits I was assigned to make, as well as the usual re-stocking. Compared to the last session, contributions were back up to their usual standards with 22 all in all and some of the guests present found me very amusing at the after-session tea. Now if only the biscuits did not keep breaking.
The final session was of course the Christmas one and I had bigger responsibilities than usual as I was assigned to decorate both biscuits and cones. Expecting a high demand, especially after the 2013 Christmas session, my expectations were soon realised. I lost count how many contributions as I had up to 7 children at my table all at once, some deciding to do one or the other or both. I should have used a more effective way of labelling the contributors’ names. After the session, I joined in the walk up the High Street where everyone sung Carols and the Christmas lights were switched on. It was truly wonderful and all inclusive and I felt proud to be a part of it.
Unfortunately the final part of my 2014 Messy Church Diary was never published in any form until now as Trinity Magazine went out of print after the November 2014 Issue. I pledged to continue writing about helping out with the HTC Messy Church Sessions in 2015 regardless.