Congratulations to our Messy Church of August!
We are excited to travel all the way to Sanibel Island to celebrate our August Messy Church of the Month. St Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church is located on Sanibel Island in Florida. Sanibel, located on the Gulf of Mexico is known for its’ beaches filled with pastel shells. From Facebook pictures, it looks like sunrise and sunsets are also beautiful in this small Island town.
The Rev. William (Bill) Van Oss was called to Saint Michael and All Angels in July, 2020. Sue Van Oss, Director of Digital Communication and Christian Formation at St Michael, moved to Sanibel with her husband after they both served churches for over 20 years in the Midwest.
One reason we wanted to share the St Michael’s and All Angels is because they are relatively new to the Messy Church Network. It is good to hear how new Messy Churches are starting and the lessons and inspiration their stories bring!
Thank you Sue and the good people from St Michael and All Angels for sharing your story of how you began your Messy Church less than a year ago!
How did you learn about Messy Church?
I heard about Messy Church years ago at a conference, and at the start of the pandemic I participated in several Facebook Live events with Lucy Moore and was hooked!
Why did you decide to offer a Messy Church in your community?
We have a very warm and welcoming congregation with many active, older parishioners who desire to share their love of Jesus with others. We want every person to know they are a beloved child of God and decided Messy Church could be the vehicle in which we could introduce others to Jesus and be a place of hospitality and welcome for families.
When did you start your Messy Church?
The first Messy Church at St Michael’s and All Angels was in April 2022. Sue attended our first online Get Started training in January 2022 and has also attended some of our webinars. (RJE edit)
Messy Folk answer the question: “What do I like about Messy Church?”
- “It was amazing to see all the people and kids participating. Fun to overhear some of the fathers chatting about their growing up in their faith, stepping away, now trying to figure out where to go and have their kids involved, and that Messy Church was a good fit.” 50ish year old Messy Church volunteer
- “I really appreciated the friendly people and the great activities for the kids today. We enjoyed story time and are thankful for the generous dinner we were able to share with everyone there. Thank you for providing this for families in such a relaxed, fun atmosphere.” Messy Church participant
- “Messy church is a blast! It was so much fun!! The kids are adorable and they loved the activities. The parents seemed really enthusiastic too. It was a screaming success. I’ll be back next month!” 80 year old Messy Church volunteer
- “Amazing, engaging and inviting (important for a mom with kids with ADHD)” Messy Church Mom
An excerpt from newsletter from member of Messy Church planning team
“One of the great surprises of Messy Church is that word is travelling quickly. The many kudos from volunteers and from attendees warms our hearts. A number of visitors have expressed the welcoming and safe feeling they experience at St. Michael and All Angels and that the Messy Church events were a catalyst to their repeat visits. We welcomed 91 attendees (including volunteers) at the “Christmas in July” Messy Church on July 12, which was a big hit…after all, who does not like Christmas!!! Even Scrooge would have grinned! Cookie decorating, flannel blanket making, ornament crafts, etc. made the moments fly by!! Delighted squeals of children, parents, volunteers were evident as they embraced the energetic atmosphere. Each Messy Church event has oodles of surprise activities to engage all ages: some solitary activities and some collaborative activities. Juxtaposition of messy and unexpected things to create something beautiful…glue…food coloring…saline solution…to make colorful slime. What fun!! Speaking of GLUE…Sue Van Oss is the “glue” and the ball of energy who pulls all of the details together! She is excellent at garnering support. Our cadre of willing and cheery volunteers continues to grow. SMAA member who attend different services are meeting each other, some for the first time.”
Importance of Volunteers!
Favorite Messy Church activities
Edible nativity scene- from our Christmas in July 2022 Messy Church
Instructions for Edible Nativity Scene
Supplies: paper plate covered with foil, plastic baggie for icing or peanut butter (or you can just use knives), graham crackers, peanut butter (or if nut allergies use frosting), gumdrops, circus peanuts, fruit rolls ups, coconut, marshmallows (we found star shaped ones too), mini candy canes, tootsie rolls, animal crackers (vanilla and chocolate ones), toasted coconut (optional) and toothpicks.
Note: You can put frosting or peanut butter into quart size freezer bags and cut off the corner or to be messy, just use knives. Hand out graham crackers and “glue” – frosting or peanut butter and participants can assemble a stable by using half graham crackers for side walls, and a full cracker for back wall and top. To create Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, shepherds and angels slide gumdrops onto a toothpick for the head and a circus peanut for the body. Make clothing by using fruit roll ups and wrap around the circus peanuts. Two mini candy canes can be angel wings; animals and heads can also be made by rolling tootsie rolls (come in multiple colors) or marshmallows into balls. Use peanut butter or frosting to attach them to the scene. You can trim any excel toothpick off form the bottom with scissors. Animal crackers make quick and easy stable animals. You can also make a stable floor with toasted coconut. Let everyone be creative and come up with their own edible nativity scene.
Faith talk starter: What is your favorite Christmas food to eat? I wonder what Mary and Joseph would have eaten when they stayed in the stable for Jesus’ birth?
Celery Fish Painting from It’s All About Fishing June 2022 Messy Church
Supplies: celery sticks cut into 6 pieces, heavy white cardstock painting with fish outlined on it or you can use fish template, paints, paper plates, googly eyes
Fish template from Craftymorning.com https://www.craftymorning.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/celery-rainbow-fish-painting-template.pdf
Instructions for Celery Fish Painting: for individual craft that kids can bring to a table to complete-put on each paper plate small amounts of 6 paint colors and 6 celery stick pieces. Or you can have large amounts of each color paint on plates and participants can stand at the activity table to complete the craft. They fill in the fish outline by making “scales” with the celery stick pieces dipped in paint. It works best to start from the front of the fish to avoid smearing. They can also paint the fins and tail if they want. Be sure to have kids write their name or initials on the sheet and have a drying table to put crafts on while they visit other activity stations.
Faith talk starters: Talk about how fish swimming in the sea come in all different shapes, sizes and colors. Have you watched fish swim in a tank? Instead of catching lots of fish, Jesus’ friends would tell lots of people about him and “fish” for people. I wonder how they did this?
Fluffy Slime from Super Heroes May 2022 Messy Church
Supplies: clear Elmer’s glue, shaving cream, food coloring and glitter (optional), baking soda, contact solution
Instructions for Fluffy Slime: We like this recipe because it doesn’t have any borax in it, most slime recipes do but it can be an irritant to sensitive skin. This recipe is perfect for kids. Add glue to a container, mix food coloring and baking soda and stir well, Add shaving cream and stir well. Consistency is very loose. Add 1 tablespoon contact solution and stir well, if the mixture is quite sticky add one more tablespoon and mix well. The mixture should be fluffy and stretchy and not sticky, you can add glitter if you want. If it is sticky, add a bit more contact solution. They can take it home and store in an airtight bag or container.
Faith talk starters: Who has helped you out of a sticky situation? Have you ever helped someone out of a sticky situation?
What worked well in getting the support of your ‘Sunday’ church when you started Messy Church?
Recruiting volunteers and having them spread the word about the program was really key. They are so enthusiastic about Messy Church and bring up Messy Church when talking to other parishioners and share how wonderful it is, how much fun they have at it, and how important it is to our church community. We have well-respected, long-time members of the church as volunteers which gives validity to Messy Church. We also share pictures of each event with the parish and encourage parishioners to accompany a friend, neighbor or grandchildren to try out Messy Church.
Share a challenge you have had with Messy Church. What strategies did you use to meet that challenge?
Our biggest challenge is lack of space! We only have one large gathering space- our hall, and we are at the point of outgrowing that for the activity stations! What a great challenge to have! We have to quickly clear the tables and get the room ready for the meal while the group is in the church for the celebration time. We are looking at how to use extra smaller rooms but also don’t want to lose the positive energy that is felt with so many in the hall at one time. We also will be able to use outdoor space in the winter months when it isn’t so unbearably hot (we are located in Southwest Florida.)
Just a heads up; we also realized Mother’s Day is not a good day for Messy Church😊 Our Messy Church is on the 2nd Sunday of each month, and since May was only our second one, we took a gamble and went with staying consistent, and our attendance was not that good. Lesson learned- it’s okay to switch a date sometimes!
How has your Messy Church adapted during the pandemic?
We started just a few months ago and follow CDC guidelines; when the transmission is high in our area, we recommend people wear masks, but it is left up to individuals.
Thank You for sharing your story!
Thank you Sue and all the good people of St Michael and All Angels for taking a risk and starting a Messy Church and especially for sharing your story with us. Prayers for you as you continue to share with the people of Sanibel, Florida!
Church Name and Address: Sue Van Oss St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, 2304 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel Island, Florida 33957
Church phone number and email: 239-472-2173, [email protected]
Messy church contact Name and email: Sue Van Oss, Director of Digital Communications & Christian Formation [email protected]