It was a privilege to be invited to speak at the Mothers’ Union Faith and Spirituality Conference. Not often do I get a Bishop as a warm-up act, either. There are so many links between what we’re trying to do in Messy Church and the aims of the MU! And what a resource, what a huge pool of committed people across the UK and overseas, all with a concern for supporting families.
Mary Sumner, the founder of the MU, recognised two centuries ago that good parenting was more than providing for the physical needs of the child, and believed that the primary responsibility of parents was to raise children in the love of God. The first members of the MU agreed that marriage, parenting and prayer were key to the future of families. How closely this meshes with what Messy Church is all about!
We had a lively discussion about Faith at Home, building on our round-table discussion on that subject at the beginning of this month, and there was a very real realisation that Messy Church offers a new opportunity to discover, in many cases for the first time, what it means to make the home a place of discipleship.
At the conference I met a lady from County Cork whose church is running a Messy Church – the first I’ve come across in Ireland, so I encouraged her to sign it up on the Messy Church Directory without delay. There was also someone from Malta representing the Diocese of Europe, who took a handful of fliers away with her. Messy Malta sounds most appealing. A representative from Derbyshire was very moved by the whole experience and felt that God was nudging her towards something which, at the moment, given the constraints of a tiny medieval church and a congregation with fixed idea of what proper church is (and that certainly does not include mess), felt impossible. While we all agree that nothing is impossible with God, we fear that quite a lot is impossible with a certain type of church choir member.
There is so much synergy between Messy Church and the Mothers’ Union: it is very important to make sure that we work closely together as the work of both organisations develops.