I hope that after the end of another exhausting few months, you'll be getting a bit of a break at some point over the summer holidays - although doubtless some of you (like me) will be trying to navigate home-working with childcare as well!
Time for a quick update on what's happening for children and families over the coming months. Do skim through this and pick out the bits relevant to your family - including some free give-aways at the end.
* It was great to welcome some children back to Flames (age 3 - yr R) and Bubbles (yr 1-5) in June and July, and especially to see how they got used to being in those spaces again.
* I'm also delighted we've had a creche drop-in session, with another one planned. With so many babies around, we're expanding the creche area so there's safe space for all who come.
* Over the summer holidays, there won't be any specific children's groups on Sunday mornings, but children will be more than welcome - we've got the baby corner and family mats back out, and activity buckets and bags for those who do come. (Here's a description of covid precautions at the moment, if you're interested, or watch this section of the video update.)
* For those of you worried that your children will be too noisy in church - let me just say that we've so missed the noise of children in church that it's an absolute delight to have them back in and running around! It's quite natural for them to want to explore the space! Remember, your children always sound louder to you than they do to others. And there's always the self-service creche room that you can use if you feel they're getting too boisterous.
* We will also keep including suggestions for videos to watch with your children at home - but do also let us know other resources you've found helpful!
* We're continuing discussions with someone who we may yet appoint as a full-time Children's Team Leader. Please keep praying for that process!
* We're aiming to get junior church groups back off the ground regularly, but with depleted teams, it's going to take a while to get there. So when term starts in September, we will move to a temporary alternating pattern of 10am services - 2 Sundays a month will be geared towards families (but those without children will be more than welcome!); 2 Sundays a month will be less geared towards children (but those with children will be more than welcome). More details nearer the time, or watch this section of the latest video update.
* It was great to have a few sessions of Ark Babies before the summer holidays; we hope to re-start The Ark fully in September, welcoming all babies and preschoolers with a parent or carer.
* Your children's safety is of paramount importance to us. We have been thinking carefully about making sure that children who should not appear on the livestream for safeguarding reasons do not inadvertently do so. And how to make sure children don't accidentally escape from the building whilst we're keeping the doors open for increased ventilation.
* At our Environment Sunday outdoor service we gave away copies of 'Planet Protectors' to lots of the children aged about 5-10. If you didn't get one and would like one, do get in touch. Let's model to our children how serious we are about taking care of God's world!
* We're all hoping that we're through the worst of the pandemic, although we know it's not over yet. But now might be a good time to sit and reflect with your family as we look back on the pandemic and the highs and lows we have all felt. This excellent free resource helps families do just that in quite a simple way, acknowledging that each family's experience has been different, and that whatever we have been through, God has been at work in us.
* Finally, I've got a copy of "Praying for your kids through the year" - 365 days of short Bible reflections that point us to how to pray for our children. Free to the first person who asks! Don't be shy!
Thanks for making it through to the end. Do be in touch and let us know how we can be praying for you or supporting you through the coming weeks and months.