Children and families ministry summary 2016

Children and Families Worker
Steph Packham 
Tel 07914 246808

Children and Families


A description from the Bible Society: Open the Book is a project run by the Bible Society. It started in 1999 and is now so successful it is reaching thousands of school children nationwide.

It’s a three-year rolling programme of themed and dramatised storytelling at no charge to primary schools. Teams of volunteers throughout the country use drama, mime, props, costume – and even the children and staff themselves – to present the Bible stories in lively and informative ways. It is often undertaken during an assembly or collective worship.

Today, so many children could miss out on the great classic stories from the Bible – Noah, Daniel and the life of Jesus could be closed chapters if youngsters don’t get an opportunity to engage with the Bible. That’s why Open the Book is so important.

In SPTMC we have an active and enthusiastic team of volunteers that go into 3 schools once a month.

At present the schools and times are as follows: Uplowman - second Wednesday of the month (am) Sampford Peverell - second Wednesday of the month (pm) Halberton - first Wednesday of the month (pm)

So much goes into Open the Book. One of our Halberton team members has used her gifts to make the most amazing costumes for the team to wear. We have a set of adult sized and children sized outfits to wear including headdresses and tabards.

We have a growing amount of props either made or donated by the team to use - anything from polystyrene fake stone walls to a bunch of plastic grapes has been collected.

We also have some amazing actors and narrators who through their gifts really bring the stories to life.

If you are interested in volunteering for Open the Book please contact Steph Packham on 07914 2476808


This is currently being held in two schools

Burlescombe School (Run by Steph Packham) Fridays from 12.30 until 1pm.

We are lucky to be able to use a set of Story Bags created by Claire Nichols, Children and Families Worker in the Uffculme Team Mission Community and her team of volunteers.

She has now created a two year programme of stories and props that can be used. During the session, the narrator (sometimes a child, sometimes the group leader) reads the story and the children use the knitted characters and props to re-enact it.

Each session ends with a choice to either use a play dough mat sourced from Flame Creative or to do some colouring of a picture relating to the story.

We are very lucky to have this resource but it would be amazing if we could add to the set of story telling characters. Anyone who is able and willing to help with knitting bible characters, or would like to work with Steph to deliver Bible Story Clubs to our children please contact Steph on 07914 246808

We also have a Bible Story Club run by Linda Butler and takes place in Webbers School, Holcombe Rogus. Linda kindly supplies her own props and story books.


Four of the schools in the SPTMC area are Church Schools and as such have their own Worship Plans. Each day they have an assembly where the children worship together as a group.

On most days, the collective worship is led by a member of the staffing team. However, on occasions, Revd Sue or Steph Packham the Children and Families Worker will lead the collective worship assembly.

The assemblies tend to last 15 minutes and are based on a theme within the bible or a particular value. The assemblies include singing, story telling and all sorts of imaginative ways to share Christian messages.

If you are interested in getting involved in Collective Worship in Schools please contact Steph Packham on 07914 246808

The Schools carrying out Collective Worship are: Sampford Peverell Uplowman Webbers Burlescombe

Revd Sue and Steph are also in discussion at present with Blundell’s Preparatory School as they are keen to have our input with their assemblies.


Part of the SPTMC children’s work is to reach out to the smallest members of our community and a great way to do this has been to make links with our local Toddler groups and Preschools.

Sampford Peverell Toddler Group Sampford Peverell have welcomed church volunteers with open arms. Steph Packham has been asked to attend the group to be a point of contact for any parents or carers wishing to find out more about the services offered by our local churches.

It has also provided an opportunity to provide arts and crafts for the toddlers attending as a way of demonstrating the sorts of activities that happen at Messy Church (held in the same venue).

The group runs every Tuesday during term time, from 9.45am but Steph attends the second and fourth Tuesday of the month to run the arts and craft table.

Maybe you have a gift that you could offer the Toddler team. They would love to hear from you.

Discussions are underway about offering something similar at the toddler group in Holcombe Rogus.

If you are interested in helping with the Toddler / Preschool project please contact Steph Packham on 07914 246808.


Messy Church offers a fun, relaxed, family centred approach to worship based on the core values of hospitality, creativity and celebration. It provides a fantastic way for families to come together in friendship and fellowship.

Hospitality The session starts with breakfast when children of all ages enjoy sitting at tables with their family and friends. The breakfasts vary but include cereals, fruit and toast with a hot option which may include sausage or bacon sandwiches or croissants.

Creativity After this the children may watch a short film and are introduced to the theme of the day. Children along with their families enjoy crafts, activities and games linked to the theme.

Celebration At the end of activities everyone gathers for a time of celebration, with songs, bible stories and prayer.

We also have Messy Church Events outside of term time, particularly around Easter, Summer holidays and Christmas.

In Sampford Peverell, Messy Church is an ecumenical project alongside our friends at the Methodist Church. It is held on the 4th Sunday of the month, from 9.30am till 11.30am.

We have a fantastic team of volunteers but always need the help of more willing helpers. If you are interested in getting involved as a volunteer or wish to come along please do contact Steph on 07914 246808.


We welcome children and families at all of our services. From our Eucharist service, to Matins to Evensong.

However we also acknowledge that some of our services are not as accessible to children and families as others. As such our churches have developed a range of All Age Worship Services. These come in various forms and take place at different times.

Some of our churches have activity bags for children to use, others have copies of activities from the Roots Magazine. We are hoping to ensure that all churches have this equipment available to use if needed. If you are interested in helping in this project please contact Steph.

The Team Liturgy Group have just finished updating the service for the All Age Worship with Communion, trialled it in Sampford Peverell and Uplowman, and the final draft is now complete. These service sheets will be in our churches soon.

At the next meeting of the Liturgy Group we will be looking specifically at Family Services / All Age Worship without Communion.

This is an exciting piece of work and Steph would love to hear your views so that she can feed back to the Liturgy Group. It is early days in the discussion but it is hoped that we can work together as a Team of churches to find the best way to serve our Children and Families to the best of our ability.


We have a dedicated team of volunteers who have taken on the role of Children and Families Reps for our churches. This amazing group are there, ready and willing to support any family that comes into our churches.

They attend meetings every two months with the Children and Families Worker to share ideas, support each other and talk about new project ideas.

They are also a great point of contact between the schools and the churches and are a familiar face for families in their area. Their support is invaluable to the SPTMC.

Our Children and Families Reps are:

Christine Hammond - St Mary’s Church, Burlescombe Jane Palfrey - All Saints Church, Holcombe Rogus Jean Goddard - St Simon and St Jude Church, Hockworthy Pam Holley - St Peter’s Church, Uplowman Rosie Yarham - St John the Baptist Church, Sampford Peverell Currently vacant - St Andrew’s Church Halberton


There are several times throughout the academic school year that our local schools visit our churches. This may be in celebration of an event in the Christian calendar such as a Harvest Service, Christingle Service or Easter Service. Alternatively it may be to celebrate their end of term, or as part of an R.E. lesson on Christianity.

On occasion, the schools and churches have also worked together to host special events that support spiritual growth such as Prayer Spaces events.

There are many opportunities for school children to visit our churches and we welcome any suggestions you may have.

We have the most fantastic buildings and it is so important that the children in our area can come inside and see them.

The Church Wardens and Children’s and Families Reps play an integral part in making this happen, but there are always opportunities to get involved in visits from our schools.


As the academic school year draws to a close, the Year 6 children are given the opportunity to attend special transition sessions. These are held within the schools.

This is a joint project with the Methodist Church and is supported by teenagers from the Square Fish project in Uffculme.

The sessions touch upon the pastoral side of moving schools. The children are able to participate in activities that help them understand how they may feel about moving schools, and share ideas with each other about how to cope with the stress involved. The older children can help with real life accounts of what secondary school is like.

If you are interested in getting involved with this project please contact Steph on 07914 246808.


The Posada is a beautiful way for children and families to hear the Christmas Story. Originating from Mexico, the Posada commemorates Mary and Joseph's difficult journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem in search of a place for the Christ Child to be born. In Spanish, the word means dwelling or lodging.

Volunteers in both Sampford Peverell and Uplowman have made the most beautiful Posada baskets. Complete with knitted nativity characters, animals, nativity story books, prayers, candles and a gift for each family hosting the Posada, the basket travels from home to home bringing joy to those who experience it.

Friends and neighbours are invited to share in the experience together and the host family keeps the basket at their house for a night before delivering it to the next family on the list. It is a great way to celebrate and meet new people.

The Posada will be travelling in Sampford Peverell and Uplowman again this year, and is being launched for the first time in Hockworthy. Perhaps it is something you would like to get involved in - either as a host of the basket, or to help make a new Posada basket that could travel through other parishes. Please contact Steph is you are interested in this project.


It is encouraging to know that SPMTC is not working alone. There is a strong network of support for Children and Families Work across the Deanery and Diocese.

There are resources that can borrowed, training that can be undertaken, advice services up and running, support meetings held and chances to learn from each other.

Our contact at the Diocese is Katherine Lyddon and she is available to support us with all aspects of our Children’s Ministry. She regularly updates us on current legislation for Children’s Ministry and Safeguarding and sends out a monthly news bulletin updating us on Children and Families Work throughout the Diocese.

The following network/ support meetings are currently being attended by Steph our Children and Families Worker.

Godly Play Network Children and Families Worker Breakfast Support Meetings with Uffculme Children and Families Worker Support meeting with Katherine Lyddon


St John the Baptist Church in Sampford Peverell hosts a Christmas Eve Crib Service. It is a beautiful service that is well attended by Children and Families across the team.

This year, in conjunction with Sampford Peverell Messy Church, we are looking to enhance the Crib Service by organising a Bethlehem Multi- sensory Experience.

We are hoping to create designated areas, inside and outside of the church that represent the sights, sounds and smells of Bethlehem on that special night. The stations to be created are:

The shepherds (with sheep) A carpenter’s workshop A market stall of traditional food A guards station The Inn The stable

We are open to other suggestions too. We already have a small team of excited and enthusiastic volunteers helping us, but we would love to have more from across the SPTMC.

If you have a gift you could share please contact Steph on 07914 246808. Perhaps you could make costumes, help source props, paint a backdrop, help with music / sounds, provide sheep or a donkey, act a part, help with set up. There are so many ways in which you could help and we would really like your input.


This is held at All Saints Church in Holcombe Rogus on the second Sunday of the month, during the 11am service.

It is run by Jane Palfrey, the Children and Families Rep for All Saints Church, Holcombe Rogus

How it works

The children sit with their family as the service starts, and during the first hymn they are then invited to join Jane in the Vestry for approximately 30 minutes of children’s worship. The children then rejoin the main service during the communion and are invited to go to the altar for a blessing if they wish.

The format of the session includes a prayer, a story from the bible, a song and an activity related to the story of the day. Activities include cutting, sticking, colouring and drawing.

Jane uses the Roots Magazine to guide her preparation so that the children hear a child friendly version of the reading that the rest of the congregation will hear that day.

At present we have two families attending but other children may attend if they are at church for a special occasion such as a Baptism.

ECUMENICAL WORK - Churches working together

There are several activities happening within the SPTMC that have been set up ecumenically.

In particular we have made strong links with members of the Methodist Church in Halberton and Sampford Peverell.

The Messy Church model is an excellent example of how this can work. Members of the planning team are from both churches and fantastic discussion is had about how we can inform the children about traditions in different churches.

If you have any experience of ecumenical working or have ideas of ways in which churches can work together to serve the children and families in our parishes please do let Steph know.


There is a lot of support within the Diocese of Exeter to develop Godly Play. SPTMC has some experience of using Godly Play in the past and it was well received. Steph Packham, our Children, Families and Schools Worker has recently undertaken the 3 day accredited training programme in the technique and is interested in hearing from anyone wishing to get involved in this project.

What is Godly Play? An explanation taken from the Godly Play UK organisation:

Godly Play is a creative and imaginative approach to Christian nurture It can be used in a variety of settings... churches, with children who have no church background, schools, hospitals, care settings for elders Godly Play is based on long established, tried and tested approaches Godly Play uses symbols and objects as well as words Godly Play values process, openness and discovery Godly Play encourages people to make meaning for themselves It invites listeners into stories and encourages them to connect the stories with personal experience. Godly Play is a non-coercive way to encourage children to move into larger dimensions of belief and faith, through wondering questions and open-ended response time. It is a way of preparing children to join in the worship and life of their congregations as they develop a deeper understanding of stories, symbols and rites. Although it was originally developed as a resource for children, Godly Play is now being used with a wide range of age groups in a diversity of settings. Godly Play is one of several variations of the Montessori tradition of religious education and has been developed in the United States by Dr Jerome Berryman.


Pray for Schools Fortnight aims to inspire Christians to pray for schools in their local area. Churches are encouraged to gather together people involved in education, including parents, students, teachers, governors and anyone passionate about young people, to pray in depth for schools and the issues affecting them. This happened in all of our schools last year and was well received.

Some Mission Communities, such as Uffculme, have a group of people who meet to pray for their schools on a regular basis, not just during Pray for Schools Fortnight. It could be something that people in our Team might be interested in doing. If you would like to find our more about this project idea please contact Steph on 07914 246808.


Families are making contact with our churches, engaging in discussions with clergy, and taking the amazing step to have their child/ children baptised. What a fantastic thing that this is happening!

But sometimes the contact with our church ends there. Could we be doing more?

There has been some discussion about whether we could follow up with such families to let them know about the children and families work that is happening, and to invite then to join us at our services if they wish. But how could this effectively be done?

If you are interested in this project please do contact Steph on 07914 246808


Research has been carried out by the Church of England regarding Church Fringe Families and their research paper highlights that one of the most effective ways to outreach to people is through already existing fetes and community events that are happening.

There are many people in our community who have no experience of church at all. They may never have been in the church building and may have little or no knowledge of what happens in church. But by being accessible to these people and having a presence at community events we can help people to better understand the Christian Faith.

Each parish has their own fete in the Summer months and part of the Children and Families work is to be there. Offering activities for the children such as arts and crafts has been very successful and conversations has started flowing.

If you are interested in supporting this project please contact Steph on 07914 246808.


We have an opportunity for Children and Families to join us after school for tea, coffee and a chat in two of our parishes.

St Andrew’s Church Halberton opens its doors on a Wednesday from 3.30pm for parents, carers and school children to drop in and socialise with each other. There is a strong team of volunteers who serve the refreshments and many people are working behind the scenes to make the delicious cakes.

St John the Baptist Church in Sampford Peverell also hold a cafe in the church on a Wednesday afternoon from 2.30pm until 4pm. This is open to anyone wishing to come along, including any children and families leaving school for the day wishing to stop by for refreshments on their way home. A fantastic team of volunteers make the cakes and serve the refreshments.