Our Friday morning Mum’s Bible Study is currently running the Alpha Course, with a creche available to make it more accessible to parents. Around twenty women attend this to explore faith each week. Many of these are drawn in from other outreach activities, such as Toddlers, Toddler Praise and baptism families.
Through relationships built with families from the Toddler groups, and those attending the church for Baptism, a need was identified for an accessible way for children with additional needs and their families to explore faith and build a relationship with the church. It was recognised that, because of the sensory needs of these children, and other challenges faced by their families, that many of these families find it difficult to attend Sunday morning and other church activities.
In response to this need, Wonderfully Made, a faith-based school holiday activity session for children with additional needs and their families, was created. This was piloted successfully in Summer 2018 and is running for the fourth time this Easter. It has been well attended and extremely well received with some of those attending having little or no prior contact with All Saints, or any church. Families reported that it is the only time they have felt able to attend any church-based activity. There is real demand for ministry in this area, with the potential to expand if more resources were available.
Toddler Praise, our church service for preschool children, and their parents and carers, continues to grow, and it is so exciting to see new faces there almost every week. Many of these are drawn from our Toddler Groups, and also by word of mouth between parents. We now typically see congregation numbers of 35-40 children and adults, who enjoy simple Bible teaching, music and faith-based activities together. It is also good to see new people being drawn in to serve in this congregation in various ways.
Toddler Groups continue to be a central and vital part of our outreach to young families. Our Wednesday and Thursday groups are very well attended each week, with demand being so great that they have recently had to start running a waiting list. This group draws in parents and children from the community as a first point of contact with the church. They report being impacted by the warm welcome they receive and there is a great sense of community within the groups, with this leading some to want to engage with other activities run by the church. Toddler Groups continue to be one of the main points from which people are drawn into the church family, as they seek deeper engagement through attending enquirers courses, a regular congregation such as Toddler Praise, All In, Explore, or through exploring Baptism. Just over a month ago we had two baptisms of families who have recently come to faith, for whom Toddlers and the relationships built there were their first contact with church. This great work is a testimony to the teams who work each week to run the groups and make them a place where Jesus’ love is manifest.
Baptism preparation and follow up
Regular contact is kept with families during preparation for, and in the years after, the baptism of infants and young children. This includes home visits and invitations to various church activities. It is a great pleasure to keep in contact with many of these families through Toddler Groups, a regular congregation, or their attendance at seasonal church events.