Jill Hamilton, Children’s Project Development Officer with Connor Diocese, has taken on the role of Regional Co–ordinator for Messy Church for Northern Ireland.
“As part of my role, I am involved in partnering with churches in new ventures,” Jill explained. “St Andrew’s, Glencairn, has started a Messy Church which takes place once a month on a Wednesday from 4pm– 6pm. I was keen to join in and the Rev Emma Rutherford was glad to have another volunteer to be part of the team.”
Emma has been part of a Messy Church team in another parish, but when she registered her Messy Church on the Messy Church website she discovered there was no Regional Co–ordinator for Northern Ireland.
Jill added: “The role of Regional Co–ordinator is a voluntary one and involves keeping registered Messy Churches in Ireland up–to–date with all the Messy Church news, encouraging others to get registered, passing on information about resources for Messy Church and organising annual get–togethers of Messy Church leaders so everyone can share ideas and experiences and pray for each other.
“An optional part would also be providing some training for people about Messy Church. The Messy Church team in England would help support and resource this training.”
Jill said she thought this role with Messy Church would fit well into her new role as Children’s Project Development Officer for Connor, and said Messy Church was a way to reach out to people in a community who perhaps have not had much contact with church in the past. “It provides a model for a creative, non–threatening get–together which welcomes people into your church hall or building. It is all–age, child friendly and welcoming and dare I say it –people should enjoy being part of it and have fun!” Jill said.
“It allows people the opportunity to get fully engaged with the activities and learn new things in a multi–sensory way.”
Jill said Messy Church usually inclues craft activities, celebration and a meal.
She added: “I had the opportunity to attend the Eastbourne Children’s Ministry Conference (January 31 – February 2) and was able to meet with the Messy Church team of Lucy Moore, Martin Payne and Jane Leadbetter.
“They are still small in terms of staff even though they now have 2,222 Messy Churches registered with them. I attended some of their seminars which included ‘Messy Church in tough places,’ ‘Messy Church Discipleship’ and a demonstration of a Messy Church–style holiday club.
“During my time at the conference I had a good chat with Jane Leadbetter about their expectations of a regional co–ordinator in terms of time and responsibilities. Jane was very encouraging but also realistic as we chatted about time needed for the role and Jane said that the team would welcome any support which could be given. I was enthused by their enthusiasm and love for sharing the gospel through Messy Church and was keen to give the role a go!”
Jill has the support of the Bishop of Connor, the Rt Rev Alan Abernethy and Connor Parish Development Officer Trevor Douglas. She said: “I hope to carry out some training for those interested in starting their own Messy Church and also give Messy Church leaders a chance to meet up and learn from each other. I will also be updating all the Messy Church leaders with news from the Messy Church team via email. I am planning to visit some Messy Churches and highlight good practice so if you would like a visit, please email me.”
Anyone interested in registering their Messy Church, can do so via the Messy Church website (www.messychurch.org.uk) which details what Messy Church resources are available and gives the Messy Church team a good idea of how many Messy Churches are out there!