Messy Church Whaley Bridge church 2015

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undefinedArchdeacon IAN BISHOP reports on Messy Church at Holy Trinity, Whaley Bridge, which is helping to revitalise the parish

Whaley Bridge is a delightful village on the edge of the Peak District.  The Churches in Whaley Bridge and Taxal would be the first to admit that church life hasn’t been easy in recent years and consequently mission and evangelism hasn’t been top priority.  Age profiles have been going up and congregations dwindling. 

However, the excitement that Messy Church has brought to parish life was obvious to see when I visited one Sunday earlier this month (May).  Messy Church happens once a month on a Sunday afternoon.  I arrived to see the nave cleared and tables brought in festooned with paper and glitter and glue and clay and all manner of things needed for a fishy craft extravaganza. The big fish meal that the resurrected Christ shared with his disciples was the theme on the day I visited.

Almost 100 kids regularly pitch up.  It was fantastic to see them pour in. The inspirational Revd Margaret Jones (who works half-time) led the worship, great action songs, lots of energy and joy. It all fitted into a simple but clear message of hope around the story of the risen Christ serving breakfast to the disciples on the beach at Galilee and then instructing Peter to feed the sheep.  Then the kids set out to make and stick and colour.  I had great fun with the origami and clay!

There was a wonderful hum of contented children and adults.  Parents hung around and I had a chance to chat to them and their appreciation of what the Church was doing was immense.  Some of them have begun a journey which we pray will find a home in the Kingdom of God.

The organisers were tired at the end (it does take some hard work) but rightly triumphant at a work well done.  Who knows what the fruit will be long term? But it is clear that this small community has made a marvellous effort to reverse decline, to lower the age profile and to grow the Kingdom of God. My heart was strangely warmed as I left and a feeling that if this small congregation can do this so can others.

Above ... a boy with the fish in the net at Messy Church

Below ... a girl decorates a fish for the event