Jane Leadbetter and Jane Butcher took a Messy Team to Keswick earlier in the summer. Jane Leadbetter writes:
The last Wednesday in July and the first Wednesday in August, some of us were invited to Keswick, in the Lake District, to the annual Christian Convention, to put on a first ever Keswick Messy Church showcase. Volunteer Messy Church leaders and coordinators came from Durham, Blackburn, Chester, Wrexham, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Liverpool to create a Messy Creation theme for anyone who had booked in.
The car was packed & fuelled up and the crafts were prepared. I had written a Celebration Time Creation Story which came out of an IKEA bag (didn’t God create IKEA?) and after a really good unmessy motorway journey we arrived in Keswick in time to meet the rest of the Messy Team, pray, eat lunch together then prepare the messy tent. I say tent, it was big and substantial, but what we soon found out was that there weren’t any tables or chairs and the bookings had gone so well for the first Wednesday that the Keswick Convention organisers had allowed 75 all-ages to book in and yet the tent looked only able to accommodate 50 including us. Another prayer was needed!
But with plastic sheeting/table cloths on the ground for crafts, an early queue of very patient folk and then the Team kicking into messy action with crafts such as butterflies, biscuit decorating, fish, parrots, stormy seas in bottles, sun catchers etc. we didn’t notice the time as so many people wanted to experience everything we offered and some came to ask questions and take notes too.
My particular craft was the stormy sea in a bottle which involved a plastic bottle, funnels, water, vegetable oil, blue food colouring and Alka Seltzer tablets. It was so popular that for the following week I had to create a print out of instructions for people to take home and the teenagers kept coming back to make more but in the end helped me to help everyone demanding to make one in the short time we had.
And it got so hot! We must have lost at least half a stone each with the heat building up in the tent both weeks. I say both weeks as the bookings for the second week had to be closed after 24 hrs as 120+ booked in. Yes! The same tent! More prayers needed!
As the crafts closed down and we encouraged everyone to sit down for the Celebration Time ‘Creation Interaction Story’, which EVERYONE got involved in, you may be already thinking.. how are we going to cook a Messy Meal for everyone in a tent in Keswick? Would it be a line of Messy camping stoves warming up messy soup? Not possible, don’t even ask me about getting water to the tent!! So, packets of Fair Trade choc raisins etc plus bottles of water did the trick, then the Messy Blessing & Messy Grace of course.
We were touched by the amount of people who stayed to ask us questions and even help us to tidy up after. And the long journey home each week was enlivened by the positive feedback and chat we shared. God really is shining Messy Church to the multitudes at the moment and it was a privilege to be a part of it. Even though I can’t face looking at another bottle of vegetable oil, ever!
In between messy weeks I had had a visit from my son, Tom, a St Mary’s L19: Dream Team member, who had told me about a Minister visitor from Canada, on his Sabbatical in England re Fresh Expressions of Church, who had seen our St Mary’s Church website and turned up at L19: Dream. After enjoying the worship and hospitality of Dream he had enquired about L19: Messy Church and Tom told him about Messy Keswick. Yes, you guessed right, and Rob travelled from London to visit us at Keswick and had many questions and asked us to visit Canada!!!