Congratulations to Santa Cruz Valley!
We travel to Arizona to learn about our September Messy Church of the Month. After attending an online training in June of 2021, Rev. Sandy Johnson gathered a team to start a Messy Church at Santa Cruz Valley. The mission of Santa Cruz Valley is a multi-generational church, connecting, sharing and growing in the love of Christ. Their vision is an accepting church inspired and empowered by God to serve the world. A big thanks to Rev. Sandy for sharing the inspiring story of Messy Church at Santa Cruz Valley.
How did you hear about Messy Church?
A friend of mine in Henderson, NV first told me about Messy Church 4 years ago. When I came to Arizona to pastor a church that needed to reach families in the neighborhood I knew it was time to look into Messy Church.
Why did you decide to offer a Messy Church in your community?
I liked the idea of a once-a-month opportunity for intergenerational worship and fun and believed that it was a great way to meet new families in our community. It was something we could modify to our needs and so far it has worked very well.
How did you introduce Messy Church in your community?
We held our first messy church on Sunday morning during our normal worship time to introduce it to the congregation. We had several families come from the community and then moved to Friday evening after that. It was a great beginning for us and it worked well having everyone participate the first time.
Messy Church folk answer: What I like best about Messy Church?
- “Interacting with the kids”- Adult Volunteer
- “I like the food”- a 4 year old attendee
- ” I like everything…dinner, hanging out with friends, meeting new people and doing crafts” – A disabled adult in his 20’s
- “Making heart shaped cookies and making presents and stuff” – 2nd graders as they were making decorations
Favorite Messy Activities
olive Oil Bread (October 2021)
- 1 cup flour
- 1/4 cup warm water + 2 Tablespoons
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
Instructions: combine ingredients from recipe above. Using gloves, knead the mixture on wax paper and then separate into four thin, small rolls. Cook for SIX minutes (3 min per side) on lightly oiled skillet. Discuss: Talk about how the olive oil and flour owned by the widow did not run out while Elijah was staying with her.
Tapestry Prayer Station (November 2021)
Instructions: Read the poem, “My life is but a weaving,” a poem by Corrie ten Boom. Then weave some material into the group tapestry. Think and pray about how you can trust God with the highs and lows of life, as only he can see the big picture. Talk about how life is a tapestry of colors, bright and dark. We don’t always know why the dark threads are needed, but God does. At the end of our lives, we will understand too.
Instructions: Using the funnel, fill the water bottle with sand. Blow up the balloon, twist the neck and then carefully place the balloon mouth over the bottle. Tip it up and transfer the sand to the balloon. Carefully release all the air. Tie a knot in the balloon. Loop some yarn around your fingers, then tie it in the middle and then tie it to the balloon. Cut through the ends of the loops of yarn. Clean it off, then draw a silly face on it.
Talk about how we can all get stressed out, so these balls will make a great gift. Why not give it to someone and use it as an opener to help them chat about what is worrying them.
What worked well as you started your Messy Church?
The best thing we did was to show a video leading up to the beginning that showed what Messy Church was all about. Then we did our first MC on a Sunday morning instead of “traditional” worship. Everyone got to experience Messy Church, and many decided to join the next month for our Friday evening activities.
Share a challenge you have had with Messy Church and what strategies you used to meet the challenge.
Our church has a ministry for disabled adults called Friends For Life who meet for their own “club” meeting monthly. Inviting them to join messy church was a perfect place for them to engage with the larger community. The first few sessions we had more community families than disabled adults. That changed after a few months and how the majority of our participants are now from Friends for Life. I am concerned that some families have stopped coming because they are uncomfortable around disabled people. We will continue to welcome all and hope that the families who do join with us will be welcoming of these wonderful adults. If that doesn’t happen, that’s ok too. We have a wonderful time with everyone who comes and will continue to reach out with God’s love.
How has your Messy Church adapted during the Pandemic?
Last year when we first started, we were very strict about wearing masks, etc. We did cancel one month due to several people on the team having covid and because the local community had a surge. Our numbers are lower now and we have masks optional but continue to serve food in a way that minimizes the spread of disease and have lots of hand sanitizers available throughout the space to keep everyone safe.
Thanks for sharing your story!
A big thank you to Rev. Sandy and the Messy folk from Santa Cruz Valley UMC for sharing their experience with Messy Church!
Santa Cruz Valley United Methodist Contact Information
Address: 71 E. Sahuarita Road; Sahuarita, Arizona 85629
Church phone number: 520-282-4085
Church email:[email protected]
Messy church contact Name and email: Rev. Sandy Johnson, [email protected]