Congratulations to Holy Family Episcopal!
Cathy Brackin, lay leader of Messy Church at Holy Family learned about Messy Church by simply googling ‘Sunday School Alternatives’. That began a journey of learning as they started their Messy Church in 2015. We are so happy to feature their Messy Church this month.
Why did you decide to begin a Messy Church in your community?
Holy Family is a merger of two smaller congregations. One predecessor church (St John’s) had been experiencing very low attendance in the Sunday Church School program. We started doing a Saturday program of our own invention, similar to VBS. I (Cathy Brackin) continued to Google “Sunday School alternatives” and came upon Messy Church. It was perfect! During this time St. John’s began discerning a merge with another church (Atonement) who had no children’s ministry. While going through the merge process we started working together and embraced the Messy Church model. This was in 2015.
What Messy Folk at Holy Family like about Messy Church
- “It’s fun and exciting.” Bryce, age 11
- “It’s a time when all the grandkids can be together.” Sue, grandmother of 10
- “Messy Church appeals to a variety of children’s ages as demonstrated by the age of range of my own children with an 11-year age gap. It does not employ old fashioned Bible crafts and games. The activities are innovative and speak to a new generation of youth.” Andrea, mother of 3
- “My favorite thing is learning the Bible lessons and doing the crafts that go with it.” Ryan, age 8
- “I like getting together with other families, sharing fun, and enjoying a meal.” Melissa, mother of 3
Some Favorite Messy Activities at Holy Family
Instructions for Resurrection Garden ( See video above) Supplies needed: plastic dish, small flower pot, potting soil, decorative stones, clay, grass seed, cross made of sticks. Place the flower pot on its side in the dish. Cover with potting soil. Arrange the decorative stones and cross. Sprinkle with grass seed. Water the garden, sprinkling lightly. Optional: cover with plastic wrap for a few days.
Crazy for Creches
Our deacon has a collection of 24 nativity scenes. They were set up on tables in the undercroft and numbered. There was a search and discover (scavenger hunt) sheet, that required each family to discover what was unique about each creche. Which has a barefoot Joseph? In which one is Mary lying down? During craft time, the families were invited, one at a time, to tour the creches and fill out the scavenger hunt form together.
Sheep on the Search
This is an “Elf on the Shelf” alternative we made during Advent. We invited the families to move the sheep around each day. The parent would attach a slip of paper to the sheep, revealing what that day’s activity would be.
Preparation: create a template for the sheep that looks like a cloud. Cut out 2 for each child. To make the legs, cut off fingers from inexpensive gloves. Stuff the gloves with fiber fill. Sew the sheep around about ¾ of the way, while sewing the legs into the sheep. Cut out a face from black felt. While at Messy Church, the kids glue googly eye to the face and glue the face to the sheep. They stuff the sheep and a volunteer sews it shut by machine. We have a sheet of suggestions for simple Advent activities.
What worked well to get your ‘Sunday’ church connected with Messy Church when you began?
We asked them to donate needed supplies. We also posted to our church’s Facebook page to spread the word.
What is a challenge you have faced and how did you problem solve?
In the beginning not all of the team members knew each other as were working towards a merger of two churches. It was awkward leading a ministry at another church. The merger was a difficult process, but our collaboration on Messy Church helped bring us together as one body, one “Holy Family.”
How has your Messy Church adapted during the pandemic?
Our church was closed for in-person worship for 16 months. During this time we prepared “Messy Church in a Bag” and supplied families with everything they needed to do Messy Church at home at their convenience. Bags were delivered to the homes. We also made videos with the Bible story and craft instruction. At that point our families were inundated with online school instruction, so were happy to provide them with an outlet for fun with hands-on activities.
Thank you Holy Family
What an inspiring story to hear how you began your Messy Church and have adapted throughout the years. Thanks too for all the pictures and great videos to help other Messy Churches use your ideas!
Holy Family Episcopal Church, 233 Fairmount Avenue, Laurel Springs NJ 08021
Church phone # and email: 856-784-8666, [email protected]
Holy Family Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/HolyFamilyEpiscopalNJ
Holy Family Messy Church Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MessyChurchHolyFamily
Contact name: Cathy Brackin, [email protected]