It’s been a huge privilege to take on the role of BRF Messy Church ministry lead. But what does it involve? Ten months into the role, I’m still discovering…
I generally describe myself as the chief encourager for Messy Church, both UK and internationally – which generally involves emails, online meetings and far too much time on a computer. Every now and then I have a super messy weekend out and about, which is probably more encouraging for me than everyone else!
Here’s one such weekend:
Friday 14 October:
09:00 – a few emails before heading to North Greenwich.
11:00 – meeting with BRF chief executive Richard Fisher (my boss) and a group of nine Norwegians – a working group from Norwegian Mission Society, Norwegian Sunday School and Kaos Kirke, on a study trip to the UK to experience Messy Churches of different sizes and locations, ahead of piloting Messy Church in Norway in 2023.
12.30 – take the group on a walking tour past St Mary Magdalene Church of England School and outside space where my own Messy Church Goes Wild meets, followed by lunch in the Design District.
14.00 – herd the group on to the Jubilee line at North Greenwich and navigate Southeastern Rail to West Wickham. I’m reminded of my days of being the parent helper on school trips, except my new friends all get out their knitting and crotchet on the train.
15:00 – visit Messy Church St Mary’s West Wickham, arriving early to meet the team and chat with Revd Hazel, before joining in with their harvest celebration.
17:30 – return with the group to the hotel in Greenwich, discussing where we’ve noticed the five Messy Church values.
Saturday 15 October:
11:00 – load up the car and drive to the hotel to meet Norwegians, already deep in discussion about whether or not to use the name ‘Messy Church’ or something more contextual. Elin, Ingeborg, Cecilie, and Irene travel with me, whilst the rest of the group visits St Richard’s Messy Church in Charlton for their harvest session.
12:15 – arrive at Hornchurch to set up Messy Church Goes Wild Roadshow with the amazing team from St Andrew’s.
14:00-16:30 – welcome 22 people to the training session including familiar faces Martyn Payne, Emma Anderton (children’s advisor Chelmsford Diocese), young leader Cameron who helps to lead the Messy Young Leaders Zoom and others previously met on Zoom training. I realise that I love meeting people in person! The group experience a Messy Adventure: I lead an ‘On the move’ session, a reflective walk around the churchyard, followed by activities from ‘Wild and wiggly’ led by the Hornchurch team. As we return to the church hall, for an impressive spread of tea and cake, the heavens open! Rainbows abound and I’m reminded of God’s promises.
18:00 – I drop my Norwegian friends back at the hotel. It’s still raining, and I’m thankful we had a dry afternoon.
20:00 – attend a retirement party for a local vicar. Work and home life merge as I spend the evening networking with local clergy, some of whom run Messy Churches, and dance with friends to a 1950s rock and roll covers band.
Sunday 16 October:
14:00 – pick up Øivind, Ingeborg and Kate and travel to St Barnabas Dulwich. The rest of the group travels to St Mark’s Reigate Messy Church, before heading to Gatwick for their homeward journey.
15:00 – meet Revd Rachael, her Messy Church team and BRF cameraman Adrian. Today we’re filming for the new updated Messy Church promo video, so I’m on the door meeting and greeting, whilst ensuring filming permissions are in place. We’re joined by Bishop Karowei, the bishop of Woolwich and a keen supporter of Messy Church, as we explore the theme: ‘Jesus light of the world’. There’s a queue to get into Messy Church today, and soon the place is buzzing as young and old get stuck into the activities. My favourite activities include making lava lamps and a large junk model lighthouse to accompany a rousing rendition of ‘My Lighthouse’ (Rend Collective) during the celebration.
17:45 – after some clearing up, I drive our Norwegian friends back to Greenwich.
18:30 – home at last but remember I’ve forgotten to wash school uniform for Monday morning. The job of being a Mum never stops! I thank God for my washing machine.
A massive thank you to all the Messy Church teams who welcomed me and our Norwegian friends: St Mary’s West Wickham, St Andrew’s Hornchurch, St Richard’s Charlton, St Mark’s Reigate and St Barnabas Dulwich. You are all such an encouragement!
BRF Messy Church ministry lead