St Patrick’s Parish, Ballymena, held its first Messy Church family service in the Church Hall on April 19, with 104 people attending.
The theme was ‘Eating and Drinking together’ and the service was based on the story of Jesus feeding the 5000.
Lucy McLoughlan, one of Ballymena Parish’s part time Children’s and Youth workers said: “We were happy to see some newcomers and some faces that hadn’t been with us for a while. It all went very well and we received very good feedback. We now hope to take it to St. Columba’s, our sister church, and also hold another one in October at St Patricks.”
St Patrick’s Youth Committee had explored the concept of Messy Church, seeing it as a way to support families in the parish and to reach out to unchurched families in the locality. The monthly family service took place in the church hall and had an informal, relaxed atmosphere and ended with tea and activities. The team felt it was important to build on this momentum.
The Youth Committee set about acquiring training. One of the Sunday School teachers completed a one day workshop in Bangor on Messy Church and five of the team attended the Building Blocks conference in November 2014 which had Lucy Moore the founder of Messy Church as the keynote speaker. (Building Blocks is an annual training event for Christian children’s ministry leaders.)
Lucy also went to see Messy Church at Christmas in Ahoghill Parish and was very impressed. She organised a Messy Church taster evening for leaders and volunteers and Jill Hamilton, Children’s Project Development Officer for Connor Diocese, led the evening and shared some ideas. Jill is the Messy Church regional co-ordinator for Northern Ireland.
The team also carried out a leaflet drop in local housing estates to inform people and encourage them to come along to Messy Church and this proved successful with some newcomers coming along on the day.
More pictures and videos on the Ripple Connor website.