Diocese of Portsmouth

    Connecting with God through nature and sausage butties

    Children and Young People
    16 June 2023

    ONCE a month the gardens outside St James’ Church, Emsworth are a-buzz not just with the wildlife but with families enjoying crafts and activities.

    Wild Church was started as a response to the pandemic lockdowns to enable church families to gather safely and in accordance with the Covid restrictions that were in place then, to worship and learn about faith in practical and tangible ways. Those monthly gatherings have continued long after restrictions were lifted as the congregation saw a growing engagement with families in their community.

    Each month, in the afternoon of the third Sunday, stalls, tables, and zones are created around the gardens with themed activities and crafts designed to help children and parents engage with stories and themes from the Bible. Those activities could range from mazes and treasure hunts, to hat making, to share thoughts and prayers, to dancing and flag waving, and much more. Volunteers are around to guide the crafts and conversations that follow.

    The church also runs Breakfast Church, a fortnightly contemporary service that meets in the church hall, and runs alongside the traditional service taking place in the church. After a cooked breakfast – usually a sausage sandwich, with tea or coffee – families will engage in songs, a talk, prayers, and other activities.

    Rev Bruce Watson, the newly-appointed Pioneer Minister of Warblington with Emsworth parish, says, “Because we advertise through local schools and through our website and social media, we’ve managed to make this an easy way for people who are not currently connected to our church to come and start engaging with our church family.

    “Because of the growth, particularly of Breakfast Church, we’re looking at options to grow these new communities, as we don’t want to see new families put off from coming. The hope is that we see some of these families coming along to other events, such as carols services. These services are a point of entry, signposting to some of the other services we provide.”

    Both of these services reflect the heart and aim of Growing Faith, the national Church of England movement that aims for churches, schools and families to work together to help to create young disciples.

    You can find out more about Wild Church and Breakfast Church on the Warblington with Emsworth parish website: warblingtonwithemsworth.org.

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