This year we have reviewed our committee’s work structure. Our role description includes responsibility to “welcome and include children and families, getting to know them, providing for their particular needs and rejoicing in their presence in the meeting. We will provide opportunities for appropriate worship experiences, including all age worship; and consider children and young people’s needs in the meeting as they develop.”
During 2015 Vicky Mitchell concluded two triennials on CYPWC, including several years as convenor. Our thanks for her diligent and caring service are heartfelt. Rosie Roberts is now convenor and we have named convenors for each of the children’s groups too. Our four groups have different arrangements to meet their respective needs (see below) but we all meet together at 10.25 for our welcoming circle and a shared silence. Our shared termly themes this year were Quakers around the world, Quaker service and human rights.
QUAKER OATS (Secondary school age) Convenor: Mark Lallemand
This group is a lovely, vibrant group and has grown as younger children have come up from CQW. There is a committed group of 4 regular facilitators who seek to encourage a sense of group identity, support these young people in their own spiritual journey and build a sense of Quaker identity. In response to a leading from the young people the Sunday morning sessions are planned as a rolling programme of activities that engage their participation, from drama, to craft, to cooking, as well as the more traditional theme based sessions. The group are informed in advance of the rota of these sessions, with a sense that many of them, particularly the older ones, are exercising choice in what they choose to come to.
Many in this age group are involved with Yorkshire Friends Holiday School and Noodle Link Group. Some have also felt led to express their growing sense of the peace testimony in their involvement with the Drones Campaign Network demonstration at the gates of RAF Waddington in October. One young person attended the Meeting for Sufferings Participation Day at Friends House, drawing on issues concerning Quakers and particularly young Quakers nationally.
CURIOUS QUAKER WHEELERS (Junior school age) Convenor: Helen Griffin
FRIENDLY FOX CUBS (Infant and nursery school age) Convenor: Tanya Wells
Both the CQW and the FFC group sessions are based on the termly theme and involve them in a range of activities. These might include art, drama, craft, discussion or games. The CQW are developing use of Philosophy for Children (P4C) as a method for discussing issues – Helen Griffin is experienced in P4C. The FFC group can now use Godly Play as a way of exploring stories for meaning – Zillah Scott, one of the group’s facilitators is now trained in this approach.
In order to continue to meet the special needs of one child we have made a new arrangement for his ongoing support. Emma Taylor is employed by his family as a support worker and accompanies them to meeting, providing necessary support during children’s meeting sessions. We fund her payment during the time she’s at meeting which replaces our direct employment of a support worker.
MIGHTY MICE (birth to 3s) Convenor: Rosie Roberts
In contrast to the other groups MM is essentially uneventful! The intentional use of ‘old friends’ (familiar books, toys, songs, rhymes and games) and a familiar space for companionable attention and routines means they know what to expect every time. This feeds their sense of security and belonging so they can thrive and grow.
The MM group is set up so that a parent or known carer always stays with them. As the youngest children respond to loving people and begin to explore the world around them they can experience that of God in themselves, the people they love and the world. Loving interactions and a sense of belonging are spiritual gifts that the meeting can offer our youngest children.
In our planning for all age worship we try to ensure that it will be an accessible way in to silent worship for everyone whatever their age. We have had three all age meetings for worship this year with themes of kite-flying, co-operative building and refugees. We hope these are welcomed by the meeting community as an opportunity to join together with the children’s meeting in worship. We also arranged a swim at Hathersage open air pool for the meeting. And as ever we are in the run up to our Christmas play as this goes to print – we hope you will enjoy it as much as ever.
We have had a total of 49 children this year: 36 ‘regulars’ and 13 occasional children. Our children’s meeting is bigger than many local meetings! Each week, 7 adults from the meeting have the privilege of working with the children. Helping in a group – or perhaps with other essential tasks – can be a great pleasure, and we do need more volunteers. If you think you might like to be involved, please have a word with Rosie Roberts.
We have much rejoicing to do!