There is a buzz in the Parish of Dunglass with the introduction of growing nation-wide initiative ‘Messy Church’.
Introduced to the Parish by recently inducted minister Rev Suzie Fletcher, Messy Church is one church’s attempt to be a church for families who might want to meet Jesus, belong to their local church and bring up their children as Christians, but can not cope with traditional Sunday morning church services.
Taking place in Dunglass Parish on the first Sunday of each month (except January) from September 4, Messy Church is a once-a-month time of creativity, worship, and eating together.
Rev Suzie Fletcher has a passion for working with young people, and has thought long and hard about how to address some of the issues facing her new parish, as well as many other churches, including a lack of young families actively involved in the life of the church, the limitations of church buildings and the competition with more and more activities taking place on a Sunday morning.
Whilst it may not be a cure for all of these, Suzie hopes that offering Messy Church as an alternative to traditional Sunday morning services might draw more folk in through its fun and creative approach, which includes arts and crafts, a time of celebration and worship, and a meal.
She explained: “I have just come into the church about four months ago and was looking at what there was and wasn’t for young people, both in the church and in the community.
“I felt this was a better option than to try and re-invigorate the old Sunday schools.
“It’s an alternative to Sunday mornings, and it’s not just for children, it’s for the fellowship together.
“So many churches are dying with the elderly people. This is a way to try and do church differently.
“There’s no overkill on the bible and God part, it’s a very simple service because I think in this day and age a lot of people want their kids to make their own decision.
“It’s a really appealing way of bringing people into the church who wouldn’t necessarily come otherwise.”
Suzie was first made aware of the Messy Church movement, which was founded by a group at St Wilfrid’s in Cowplain near Portsmouth in 2004, at a conference she attended last year.
“I took my own daughter who’s three along to a Messy Church and she loved it, even at that age,” Suzie said.
“It says it’s from 0-99 and it really is, it’s painting and crafty stuff that’s really simple, and parents can have a blether and talk amongst themselves while the children get on with what they’re doing. And the older people feel like they’re giving something, they’re able to help out. Every person is involved.”
The Parish of Dunglass, which straddles the Berwickshire and East Lothian border, includes Cockburnspath, Innerwick and Oldhamstocks, and Messy Church will rotate between the three churches, with the first due to take place at Cockburnspath Church Hall on September 4 at 4pm.
“It’s not on Sunday mornings so hopefully it will appeal to families that have not come to the church ever, and those that are on the fringes,” Suzie said. “Being a mum of young children I can understand that getting organised and out on a Sunday morning isn’t easy - getting them up and out of the house. I pity my husband because he has to do it!”
The concept of Messy Church as a fresh expression of Church seems to be taking off both north and South of the border.
“At least three other churches in East Lothian are already doing Messy Church in various forms, some on Sunday mornings, others during the week, and I think they’re going to start it in Duns soon,” Suzie said.
“Messy Church in Dunglass is one way to bring together people of all ages and assist in maintaining the community spirit. It is an opportunity for people to meet and share their skills, as well as being an informal and friendly way to worship.”
Monthly meetings will vary from arts and crafts, celebration, singing, and enjoying a shared meal.
“I’ve been telling mums it’s great because you do not have to go home and make your tea - and you get a hot cup of coffee!” Suzie added.
“All ages are invited and we hope to see many young families from the local area coming along to join in.”
For more information about Messy Church or to keep up with what’s happening in Dunglass, visit www.messychurch.org.uk or www.dunglassparish.org,