Like many people involved with congregational ministries around the LCA/NZ, the Messy Church team at St Petri Nuriootpa in South Australia’s Barossa Valley has been forced to think outside the box recently.
Except that, when it comes to staying connected with the families they serve during a time of isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Messy Church coordinator Sharon Green and her team have replaced the idea of a box by turning to the humble paper bag!
That bag has been used to share Easter gifts, activities and blessings with many of the families – and up to 110 children, parents and grandparents – who usually meet at St Petri for Messy Church fun, fellowship and worship about every six weeks. Other Messy Church groups around the world, including others in the LCA/NZ, have also prepared ‘Messy Church in a bag’ for their families.
Sharon, who is also the Child, Youth and Family Ministry Director for St Petri, said Messy Church parents and grandparents were invited to drive through the church carpark to collect a bag or two for their families. More than 20 families took up the offer and 70 bags have been distributed in total, including those that were home-delivered.
‘No-one needed to step out of the car, they could just receive their gift with love from our Messy Church team’, Sharon said of the pick-up service. ‘Our helpers enjoyed serving our Messy Church community, with wonderful conversation as every car pulled through – from a safe distance, of course. We also had the opportunity to drop off quite a number of bags to people’s front verandahs, as some families are self-isolating.
‘It is absolutely incredible how the Lord opens up new opportunities to share his love with others, especially during difficult times. Even though we can’t meet as we usually do, we have been getting to grow in relationship with these people in ways we couldn’t have imagined.’
The Messy Church bags shared the Easter story and included Easter craft activities, colouring-in sheets for children and adults, puzzles, an Easter nest recipe, Easter eggs and the Bible Society’s Easter book. ‘With this we shared a special message on the front of each bag – John 3:16 – and prayed that God would bless all the families receiving our gift’, Sharon said.
She said the response had been wonderful. ‘One mum messaged me saying, “Thanks for the Easter bags. What a great surprise for the kids and it’s something that will help to make our Easter special!”’, Sharon said.