Amy Todd, Children and Youth Worker for Vale and Cotswold Edge tells about how they have stayed connected with local families throughout the pandemic.
When lockdown hit, Amy Todd, Children and Youth Worker for Vale and Cotswold Edge churches found that they needed to change their approach to keep in touch with the families across the 11 churches in the area.
Amy said, “On Sunday night, we started off doing 6pm Bedtime Church. Children could come along in their pyjamas or dressed as superheroes or princesses. They loved showing us their teddy bears and all the Lego (TM) they had been building. It was really nice to have all the children across the churches on screen together. It was a short gathering of less than half an hour with a short message, a short story and a few games. The children could chat, see one another and feel connected.”
Prior to lockdown, each of the children tended to only mix with others from their village in school and in church, unless they were at a holiday club, so Zoom helped to build a sense of cohesion across the whole benefice. Amy and the team kept a constant eye on the number of families coming along and took steps to make sure they were always providing the right activities at the right time of day to ensure a good turn out.
Changing the time to 4pm helped when numbers started to drop off and then as lockdown started to lift, they changed to recording the sessions so that the families could watch them together at a convenient time.
“After a while, it became clear that we all missed connecting with one another, os we started to have a Bedtime Church Zoom party once a month. Everyone logged in at 4pm for games, fun and connection.
“Some families that were attending that didn’t come to Sunday school or mainstream church. They felt comfortable logging in to something that was aimed at children and the parents were around on the periphery. We don’t want to lose that connection.”
To make sure that they kept connections going, they started to create family packs full of themed crafts, prayers, activities and treats, like a red velvet Pentecost cake, instructions and materials to build a windmill …These packs proved so popular that families they had never had previous contact with started to request them, hearing about them through friends.
The number of children receiving the packs grew from 25 to 100 children.
Amy said that part of the success of the childrens and youth work in her area is that her role is so embedded in the local community. From mentoring, to leading collective worship, to running holiday clubs, to being spotted in the supermarket with her own children, Amy is at the heart of community life.
She wants to make sure that this presence is used well, to make sure that there is something for all the children and young people within the church. Out of lockdown a younger youth group was formed and this is something that they are enjoying and want to continue.
Amy said, “We want them to know God and I want to be able to give them a space to develop their relationship with God. The group of young people we have at the moment are passionate about justice, black lives matter, the environment…
They don’t want to be just a generation that talks about issues, they want to help to make change. We need them to know that the church doesn’t shy away from issues and that we are engaged with it and can provide wisdom and spiritual guidance in all areas of their life.”
They are now looking at community action, at starting a monthly Messy Church and so much more to disciple the young people in their area.