The Messy Church congregation at Albany Uniting Church has been running for around three years, led by a group of retired members of the Sunday morning congregation. All aged between 65–85, these 13 leaders are dedicated to bridging a gap between the generations and sharing their faith with the community.
Each month, a Messy Church service is held in the Lockyer building of Albany Uniting Church. The service involves craft activities, stories, songs and discussion, followed by a shared meal.
Ross Anderson, one of the congregation’s leaders, said that they have a range of age groups attending, and they are in the process of adapting their activities as the group get older. Usually each service will attract about ten to fifteen children.
“The children age from 6–12,” Ross said. “We try and have activities to engage the younger ones. We are starting to plan a little bit as to how we can extend the activities for the [older children] because obviously they need a bit more stimulation.”
While most of the families who attend are connected to the Sunday morning congregation through grandparents or other networks, Ross said that slowly, but surely, the group are reaching out to families from non-church backgrounds.
The beauty of Messy Church is that it reaches families where they are at in their faith journeys. It is a welcoming place that encourages all sorts of discussion, without judgement or prerequisites. Ross said that once families from the wider community know that, they relax into the environment.
“Some of them in the first instance were very reluctant and hesitant to be involved because their image of church is that you get heavily attacked with Scriptures and things like that,” Ross said. “But the main teaching of Messy Church – sure is taken from Biblical themes – but it’s the finer things of what we want in life and how we care for people and how we look at our friends and all that sort of thing. So, it is the Christian values of our life.”
“We try and encourage them to also be able to tell us where they need to be in their life for their children.”
To help bridge intergenerational activities, in 2017 some of the older kids from the Messy Church congregation will
share in worship with members of the Sunday morning service at Albany Uniting Church. The Messy Church congregation have also been donating to the local Food Bank, to help local people in need, and encourage a life of service to others.
To find out more about Messy Church, visit http://messychurchaustralia.com.au.
The Uniting Church WA Ministry Resourcing Centre has a range of Messy Church books available for purchase. To find out more call the Uniting Church Centre on 9260 9800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.