Why…under 5’s count! is the title of a day conference in Huddersfield this April to explore baptism and the opportunities it presents.
The first five years of a child's life are fundamentally important. They shape a child’s future health, happiness and growth in the family and community. Babies and young children learn more rapidly than at any other time in their life. Above all they need love, affection and encouragement to flourish. So what are we doing in our churches to welcome, provide for and encourage under-five’s and their families, not only to come along to church but also to grow in faith?
Ellie Wilson, under 5’s Adviser for the diocese, is organising a day to address just this question - a day to help and resource those involved with baptism and ministry with under-five’s, but also for all of us who welcome children in to our churches.
For many families their first contact with a local church is through a baptism or thanksgiving service so making sure that first contact is a good experience is vital.
Because Baptism is such a big part of many under-five’s contact with church, the morning of the conference will be spent looking at Christenings – exploring research and suggestions from the Archbishop’s Council’s ‘Baptism Matters’ initiative and considering how relationships can be developed and baptisms done well.
129,110 children were baptised in the Church of England in 2011. 65% of those were under one. Baptism is a massive opportunity to welcome under-five’s, their families, godparents and supporters to our churches – a real opportunity for celebrating with the family and encouraging them to return. It is also an opportunity for churches to be more intentional about baptism being the start of a faith journey and offer more help to families about how to encourage and build up faith at home as well as at church.
Church: what can you do?
If children and families are to keep coming to our churches, we need to make sure that what we offer is age appropriate, relevant and fun. To that end, the afternoon – entitled Church: what can you do? will be led by Mary Hawes, National Going for Growth Adviser (Children and Youth) exploring the breadth of under-five’s ministry in parishes.
Both morning and afternoon include a choice of workshops to keep things practical and possible. Workshops include…. everything from Children’s Spirituality to Worship, Play and using social media. Victoria Beech from Godventure is running two of the workshops. Revd Robb Sutherland is running another with insights on how worship can be designed to work for all ages.
Ellie, who together with the Children and Youth Team is organising the day explains her hopes for the day:
“This promises to be an inspiring and useful day for people involved in ministry with small people and their families.
“We’ll explore how to make the most of the opportunities we have as churches… with loads of ideas to nurture children’s faith and spirituality rather than just child minding or entertaining children.“
Don’t miss this exciting opportunity:
Saturday, 18 April, 10am - 4pm, 9.30am at St Thomas' Church, Bradley, Huddersfield HD2 1SL.
Download a Booking Form to sign up and choose workshops.
Any queries – contact ann.hall [at] westyorkshiredales.anglican.org (subject: Why%20under%205's%20count) (Ann Hall) on 01924 371802.