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What's happening in Junior Church this term?Helen Evans and Jessica Mathur
The autumn term started with the enthusiastically attended "Backpack Sunday". Since then, the main focus has been on preparing for the Harvest Festival. Junior Church have been decorating candles in autumnal colours and making lavender bags. Most of the materials have been foraged - the lavender came from the vicarage, the candles were largely donated and the material and ribbons have been provided by various members of the congregation. We've been trying to show the children and young people that harvesting isn't just for farmers: it's about making the most of what's around you. By the time the magazine comes out, the items will have been sold to raise funds for "Send a Cow" at the Harvest All Age Eucharist.
Each week the junior groups attend lessons based on the lectionary or on well-known stories from the bible. The teaching methods are inventive and engaging. So far this term sessions in the older groups have involved growing cress, games of strategy involving hula-hoops and tin cans, a skit, craft, much music and investigating various crops from a farm belonging to one of the leaders. The sessions in crèche are play-based. We try to keep the children active and thinking for themselves.
From time to time we hold special events. In November we are celebrating St Martin's Day with a traditional play about a soldier who cut up his cloak to share it with the poor and turned his back on his old life, translated from German by Bettina Schmidgall. We will also be making lanterns as they do in Germany.
In December, we plan to make Christingles and incorporate them in the service “upstairs”. We will also have a Christmas party. There is a real sense of community in junior church. For many children (and their parents), it's a great chance to make friendship groups outside school.
There's also a new youth group for 11-14s. It's been a great hit so far: the inaugural activities included making pizzas and milkshakes, “sketchy” table tennis and loads of games. Whilst the official name of the group has yet to be chosen, it is proving to be very popular and will help make sure the children who are not in junior choir have more opportunity to be included in the group activities.
None of these activities could function without our amazing team of leaders and helpers We are fortunate to have a fairly small but dedicated team of volunteers who lead our groups but we still need more as Jess is finding it hard to cover the rotas for St Mark's Group (aged 6-8) and St Luke's Group (aged 8-10). We would like to encourage everyone to think about getting involved. Age and gender should not be a barrier! Don't worry if you have no experience - all training will be given. You just need a lot of enthusiasm, a sense of fun and a genuine wish to inspire young people as they grow in faith. If you can offer any help, please contact our children's and youth worker Maureen at Maureen.Smith@hampsteadparishchurch.org.uk.