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by Michael Ford last modified 13 May, 2019 11:55 AM

They say a name is everything and when a Wiltshire Church Team worked with with their RFO (Rural Field Officer) on an innovative mission opportunity, they discovered that was true.

Starting as a response to strengthing mission to the wider Communuity, St Michael & All Angels, Winterbourne Earls had been running a group called POP IN for four years. However there had been a gradual decline in attendance at Sunday School and the decision was taken for it to be discontinued.

But when RFO for Sarum Claire Horton visited, the parish's concern was expressed that this meant the opportunity for ministry among children and younger families was being missed.

So a group came together to discuss the way forward and it was agreed to extend an invitation through the local Church of England Primary School for children and parents to come in to church after school on Tuesday afternoons. When a name was needed for this new iniative, an old one came to mind.

Roger and Dorothy Morgan, who take the lead in organising the initiative explained:

"It was suggested we needed a name for the project and with that two members of the group simultaneously said POP IN - confirmation indeed!

"The vision was to bring families into church; for them to become accustomed to the building and see perhaps what it would mean for them to become a part of the Christian community.

"Activities and participation was a key factor and with the help of other members of the congregation a team was formed bringing together various talents.

"Practical skills came to the fore with some people becoming involved in craft work to produce Bible based and seasonal scenes throughout the year. There is a kitchen in the building whereby we can offer refreshments and the use of a toilet facility all add to the welcome we are able to extend."

And the new initiative with the old name is doing really well:

"Our first few weeks brought seven or eight children with parents but it didn’t take long for interest in the project to gain momentum and numbers have increased to the level when we can see thirty to thirty-five children taking part.

"Attendance at Sunday services is not a regular extension of the Tuesday activity due to the school serving a wide catchment area, but we are encouraged by some of the children taking part at festival times when they will sing choruses and at the recent Mothering Sunday celebration helped to lead the prayers.

"A very lively and happy time is enjoyed by the children, and it is also a good opportunity for parents to meet and talk over a cup of tea."

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