The first Messy Church session of 2016 focussed on The Good Samaritan, I was assigned to make chocolate rice Krispy cakes but I also brought some gingerbread men for the children to decorate. I chose to set up “shop” next to the serving hatch in the Parish Room. Buying the gingerbread men proved to be a great idea as they proved far more popular than making rice Krispy cakes. Although visitors were slow to arrive, I soon had a lot of them coming to my table, some came even when I was preparing to tidy up. A lot of the children present were new faces to me and were quite young and I had 19 contributions in all so all in all, a successful start to Messy Church 2016.
The Easter session was even better with over 50 children in attendance. I had 40 contributions in the end, an all-time record! Despite some last minute restocking and visitors being slow to turn up, I tried parading my demonstrations around in the main hall and soon the children were flocking to my table in droves. Once again, I set up shop next to the serving hatch in the Parish Room, maybe not the best place to be at first but showing off my demos certainly worked. The options were decorating a gingerbread man or a Rich tea Biscuit or making an Easter nest. The gingerbread man were so popular that they were all gone by the end of the session. The next problem I need to solve is that of sticky labels peeling off, leading to the prospect of unclaimed contributions.
The Lost Sheep session held over the May Bank Holiday understandably meant fewer visitors. Just over a dozen children were present but nearly all of them came to my station eventually. I was in the Parish Room with mini muffins, spray icing and mini marshmallows at the ready as my task was decorating cakes to look like sheep. I did bring Rich Tea Biscuits as well but I did not use them. I tried looking for more mini marshmallows but had no luck so I compensated with chewy milk bottles and meringue drops. Despite the lower than usual attendance, I still had 21 contributions largely thanks to my tried and tested method of making demonstrations and parading them around in the Main Hall so it was still a successful session.
The most recent session was held in the Summer and I was on my own for it. The theme was Noah’s Ark so I brought a wide range of animal-shaped cookie cutters. It was so hot that the proceedings took place in the church grounds. There were not very many children present as many were away on their travels but after parading my demonstrations around to entice the visitors to my table, I ended up having 15 contributions. It was great having more to offer than usual and I was allowed to keep my stuff safe overnight in the Church.
The first Messy Church session after the Summer Holidays focussed on The Prodigal Son. My task was to make pig biscuits and such was the difficulty of acquiring a pig cutter that I ended up ordering one online from Tesco. Not that many children turned up (the number was just under double figures if memory serves me correct) but 12 Contributions was still a respectable amount and some of the children preferred to sit with my fellow volunteers and me than with their families.
The next session was held close to Halloween so having received a very late suggestion of doing smiley face biscuits, I decided to get some orange icing and make them into pumpkin themed biscuits as well as restocking on writing icing. Once again, there were not many children present as it was October half-term but still, the contributions reached a respectable amount. There were 11 in all as the pumpkin biscuits were very popular considering I only thought of them at the last minute. This session was very last minute in terms of all the activities and planning and organising but it was still reasonably successful and the children loved it. Before leaving, I announced plans for a big surprise for the Christmas Session!
The big surprise was two sugar-free chocolate Christmas tree cakes and despite being in a rush to get ready, I had no problem attracting interest from the myriad of visitors once they’d seen the cakes, I didn’t have time to do a demonstration and I didn’t need to. Most of the children stuck to the tried and tested method of decorating biscuits however with Christmas Tree-shaped shortbreads as well as Rich Teas available, the cakes did serve one purpose in that they drew the visitors’ attention so they were still a successful experiment. With the visitors shared between Holy Trinity and the Methodist, there were lots and lots of people present, too many even to have an end-of-session tea and as a result, I had nearly 70 contributions in the end! (Not quite but still an all-time record) Indeed, as many as half a dozen children at once came to my table but I coped and only a few contributions went unclaimed. I didn’t join in the procession up the High Street this time as there was a lot of clearing up to do.