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School Church

by Michael Ford last modified 18 Feb, 2019 11:36 PM

‘Should it be Church School or School Church?’ was the question asked at a Workshop at Diocesan Synod on Saturday [16 February 2019].

Assistant Diocesan Director of Education Mandy Christopher told those who came to the workshop that as well as 446 parishes in 19 deaneries looking after 574 places of worship, as a Diocese we have 43,000 children and young people (CYP) in our church schools.

Using information gained from this group, the workshop heard that the children and young people spoken to had said they would like their engagement with church, faith, spiritual development to give them opportunities to ask the big questions.

They wanted to explore issues that concern and affect children and young people and be given opportunities to engage more in social action. They thought it key to have the opportunity to have a voice, to be heard, listened to in the organisations and communities they are part of.

Finally, they thought it important that they were treated as equal members and leaders, not adults in waiting.

Mandy suggested that, to engage with CYP in the way these young people ask, the answer is not so much about ‘church school’ or ‘school church’, but about how we use the engine of the Church community-Church school relationship to achieve what young people tell us they need to engage effectively with a journey of faith.

Those at the workshop were asked to discuss what they thought the key things about Church were, and also what they wanted Church to be like.

Using Acts chapter 2 verses 42- 47, which talk about the believers meeting together, eating together, and worshipping together, the participants were asked: “How can you work with the church and school to create a community across the church and school that resembles this. That helps all to experience a living community of faith?”

Those in the workshop were then asked to write on big sheets of paper some personal examples of building the relationships and not only how would a relationship with a local school help children and young people to explore or experience a living and active faith, but what would be the challenges?

After a time of shared feedback, the group were given some tools on how they could build bridges between churches and schools. These included shared journeys such as Easter, joint work on the creation of Prayer Spaces, and Eco Schools supporting Eco Churches.

Finally, those at the workshop were given examples of where projects had been used to “invited to power of the engine of the relationship between church school and church, to create a living community of faith that CYP are part of, the voice within and can lead, this can be Church itself”.

These included social action projects, like the Creekmoor Youth Project that came to Synod last year, and transition mentoring, for those going through major changes from one stage of life to the next.

There has been a change in schools and community hubs, where schools and church communities work jointly together to transform communities, providing services CYP and families need one piece at a time - be it a holiday kitchen, mentoring, or pre-school provision. Synod members were given examples of successful hubs operating in Devizes, Weymouth and Westbury.

Those who attended said they left inspired and challenged.

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