July sees the end of the academic year and a celebration service to mark the holidays for the children and young people in our church groups. Although based at St Helen’s in Ainderby Steeple, the 45 youngsters registered this year come from villages and farms across the Benefice, from Maunby to Langton, Yafforth to Scruton to name a few!

Each year the groups follow a common theme. These themes have included Jesus’ miracles, Parables, Heroes of the Old Testament and Discipleship. This last academic year we have explored the role of women in the Bible. The emphasis within Busy Bees (3 to 7 year olds) has been to introduce the children to God’s story through the women in the Bible. They may have heard about the male characters in the bible, but they did not realise that there were so many women. Groovers and Shakers (7 to 11 years) have learned about the women in more depth and have been amazed by the key roles that women played in both testaments. They were also very indignant at the way women in the old Testament were regarded by men even though they played major roles in God’s plan, e.g. Deborah and Abigail. Within this group we have introduced a time of prayer and worship including a child friendly confession and Creed. 

Trendy Teens (11 to 16 years) is a more informal fellowship group which enables the young people to discuss and debate the women in more depth and detail and is related to contemporary issues facing them. This group said that they had discovered that some of the women in the Bible played a major role in creating and nurturing the ancestors of Jesus: Sarah and Leah. They also thought that the women were smart, courageous and not impulsive, and used their thoughtful wisdom to diffuse situations that created protection and peace for the Hebrews: Abigail and Esther . They too  were indignant about the way the disciples did not believe Mary Magdalene’s account of seeing the resurrected Jesus. We explored this in relation to the Suffragette movement and contemporary women’s rights.  They concluded that the Bible’s women were inspirational role models for change making the

future better for all peoples, e.g., through inclusivity and anti -discriminatory behaviour and in learning to live Christian lives.

Over the last year we have introduced a different style of All Age Worship on a Sunday in each month. Again we use the child friendly confession and Creed and introduced activities that help all wonder, engage and explore in a more active way. This has enabled us to integrate the Thursday teaching in an All Age context which has given the church congregation an opportunity to understand the learning of the youngsters. Similarly, the youngsters have actively developed their abilities to worship collectively with adults. As a result of the groups we regularly have children and, sometimes, family members being confirmed. We used the Thursday evenings and All Age Worship to prepare for confirmation. 

On Sunday 14th July at All Age Worship we shall be sharing some of the activities we have  undertaken during the year and hope that you will join us, and share worship with the young people. Following the celebration service there will be a shared lunch. If the children’s groups could bring savoury items and the regular congregation could bring the puddings, that would be great.

Psalm 78 v4  talks about  passing on our faith to our children and grandchildren. 

we will tell the next generation

The praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,

His power and the wonders he has performed’

As church congregations we have a great responsibility to pass on the teaching. 

The groups will have a break over the summer -please remember the leaders and all the young people in your prayers as they prepare for new beginnings in September.

The groups are open to all the Benefice – please contact Shawn Costello (01609 772324) if you need more details, and look out for the new start dates in the September magazine.

Shawn Costello and Anne Cayton