Around 60 families a year bring their children for christening at Holy Trinity, Orton Longueville and St Mary’s Orton Waterville in Peterborough but up until recently relatively few returned to the church. Rev Sid Bridges, assistant curate, set up ‘Refresh’ – meeting on Sunday afternoons in St Mary’s Church where the space has been recreated to welcome families with young children.
He explained: “The gathering follows a structure which includes Bible stories, prayers and reflective space all finished off with time to hang out whilst sharing food and drink. In recent months the session has started with a Bible story with an open mic for children and parents to discuss its meaning. We don’t just read a Bible passage, we tell the story and ask afterwards ‘what is the wisdom in this?’ and ask the children – and the parents – what they think about it. Where you might be discussing the story of Jonah and the whale, we will ask if there is a time in your life that you have felt trapped, or avoided a tough decision. What wisdom can we take from this story to apply in our own lives? We then have a chalk board where we encourage people to put their prayer requests up – people write their prayers up and we pray for them. They might just put a word down or the name of a family member – whatever they write, we pray it.
“At the last session there were 52 people present, including 32 children. I worked out that there were nine baptismal families, these are not people who have been church goers, they are not in our other congregations, they are all people who have been outside our existing worshipping communities. It is really exciting seeing them enjoying the church space and worshipping together.”