Our church hasn't really tried to bring its congregations together before, so Messy Sunday was quite an experiment.
Charis Lambert, regional coordinator in London, sent this email about how they linked their two congregations one Sunday. Interesting that both congregations had to take a step towards each other - the Messy one came to a different building and members of the Sunday one changed their style of service for a week:
There's a brief glimpse of the ecumenical Messy Church on An Island Parish from Sark this last Friday - catch it on BBC iPlayer on the BBC2 listing. It looks as if the programme-makers are trying to turn it into a battleground between the traditionalists and the Messy Church congregation, judging by the interview they include straight after the Messy Church clip (about 8'13'' in).
An interesting query on the website and I found myself writing at length, probably incoherently but here we go:
'Hi, and congratulations on an innovative idea. I understand the ethos of Messy Church but wondered whether the broader longer-term aim was to integrate the members of Messy Church into the mainstream activities of the 'mother' church, i.e. Sunday school for the children and Sunday worship and midweek Bible study etc. for the adults. If not, how will those that attend Messy Church develop and grow their understanding of Church and being a Christian?'
Isn't it delightful to feel part of a Church that has worshipped God for centuries and will carry on worshipping him in new and old ways into this century? Margaret McDermott wrote in an email:
'By the way I recently went in an ancient church in Southwold and they had a lovely Messy Church banner among decorations from the Middle Ages!'
Mind you, I bet a medieval Messy Church would have had some fab crafts.
It was a great privilege to be invited to join in the Christingle service at Westminster Abbey, organised for local school children by the Children's Society. I had a fabulous time, warmly welcomed by the Children's Society staff, who are an amazing group of people.
Graham Miles has been musing from his position as church leader on the relationship of Sunday and Messy Church, and communications, perceptions, finances and differences of style between the two. Graham writes:
Here's a big question I was discussing yesterday with our newest Regional Coordinator, Gill Noles: can a church really be facilitated by people who don't see it as their primary place of belonging? Will those leaders always remain in a state of 'doing' activities at it rather than 'being' themselves and building crucial relationships? To make Messy Church 'authentic', would we need to have a core of people who made it their primary church, rather like church planters do?
Not my favourite subject, as you may know, but apparently, as an Anglican, I am defined not by a statement of faith as some denominations are, but by the liturgy my church uses. Not sure yet if this is a good thing. 'I am not a number! I am a free man!' As my more educated friend grumbles, 'The Church has no say over the songs and hymns we use, and for most people, the theology they think about comes from what they sing, so why set such store by the liturgy?'
It was a very significant day: our first meeting of the Messy Church regional coordinators. Getting twelve busy people from around the UK, as far afield as Cornwall and Preston, Weston and Maidstone is no mean achievement. To have a Canadian as well was mere icing on the cake. Meeting round a table gave us a sense of belonging to a team with a common purpose.