Messy Church International Conference (MCIC) 2019 Reflections
Part 3 of 4
By Roberta Egli
Over 200 delegates from 13 different countries gathered at the High Leigh Conference center in May for the second ever MCIC. Seven came from the United States and several of us met one another for the first time! For the three of us who attended in 2016 it felt a little like coming home to a great community of people passionately serving God through Messy Church!
At every plenary session, workshop, Messy Church experience and even at the crowded meal tables, there was a palpable joy present in the gathering of the delegates. Over the course of three days plus an additional day for international leaders (60 people in total) from outside of the UK, we shared our ideas, stories, delights and challenges. What a delight to be reminded that we are not on this path alone but there are many different people all over the world experimenting and messily creating new paths of being an intergenerational church.
We heard stories from Australia of an experiment of several weeks of Messy Camp where families came and camped having fun together. On each weekend, there was a Messy Church to engage all and through the week, there were crafts available and a movie each night chosen by the children of the families.
We heard from Neal from Canada regarding the joys and challenges of creating a fully bi-lingual Messy Church.
From the UK, we heard joys and challenges of preparing Messy Church for the families of prisoners who were waiting to visit their loved ones. Finding ways to create a welcoming space in a dreary setting and the relationships that deepened over several months was extraordinary. We heard from Johannah Myers from South Carolina about how she created intergenerational companion groups based upon the five foundational Messy Church values. We heard from small rural Messy Churches as well as large urban Messy Churches. We learned of an experiment of Messy Churches in a housing development in the UK.
Messy Church has many resources yet we learned that in New Zealand, South Africa and Australia, Christmas does not occur in the cold of winter but in the middle of summer? How does one translate the Christmas story into all of these different contexts?
We can learn from those who have been doing Messy Church much longer than we have in the States as well as those who are just beginning on this path. We are not alone, we are among many and that is inspiring!