The parish hall at St Andrew’s, Glencairn, was a sea of smiles and colour on Wednesday November 12 as families gathered for the monthly Messy Church.
Run by the Rev Emma Rutherford, Curate with Special Responsibilities in Glencairn, assisted by Connor Children’s Project Development Officer Jill Hamilton and a group of enthusiastic volunteers, Messy Church is now established on the community calendar in this part of north Belfast.
Primary School children, toddlers and even babies enjoyed rolling up their sleeves and getting stuck into painting, crafts, cookery and games in the hall, before moving into the church for a fun filled worship session which involved lots of dancing, singing, a story related to the earlier activities and prayers.
Mums and grannies joined in the fun and also took the chance to catch up with each other. Julie Hooks brings three of her children, aged eight, five and four, and comes along with her daughter who brings her own children, a three-year-old boy and three month old baby Sophie. Three generations having fun together!
“It’s a great place to get together with friends and know that the children are safe and learning about Jesus,” said Julie. “Sometimes we get stuck into making things, we are in the middle of it all just as much as the kids and we get as much enjoyment out of it as they do.”
Kellie Neill is at Messy Church with 16-month-old Sofia. “She loves coming here to play,” said Kellie. “We come along to church sometimes too. It is great to get the wee ones out.”
Little Katie Nesbitt, aged 14 months, is having a great time with some pens. “This is good for them and gets us out,” said mum Gillian Rice. “We come along to St Andrew’s for the mums and toddlers group too.”
Elise Brammer and James Mateer, two interns at The Hub at Queen’s University, are among the volunteers helping out at Messy Church. “It’s really great, I love it,” said Elise, who has also been helping run the recently launched Glencairn Community Choir.
“Getting out into the community like this is especially good for students who can end up living in a bit of a bubble.”
James said Messy Church is not about preaching to anyone. “A lot of kids and families come along who may not be involved in a church, and it is a great opportunity to get a message across and for them to have fun at the same time.”
After worship, Messy Church moves back to the hall where everyone enjoys a meal together before it is time for home.
The last word must go to one of the Messy Church’s young participants. Reece, aged six, says he comes every month. What does he like about it? “It’s messy!” he exclaims. Well of course….
Messy Church Photo Gallery