Intensive navigates family and children’s ministry

Intensive navigates family and children’s ministry

Last month United Theological College and Pulse partnered to bring our first Children and Family Ministry subject to the college in a long time. During lockdown it was decided to offer it online. Rev. Karen Mitchell-Lambert, Director of Emerging Gens and Team Leader of Pulse, took the lead in presenting, working with Stacey Wilson a leader in intergenerational ministry and researcher into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse.

There were regulars from across the Synod and the country including Victoria and remote Queensland — an added bonus of being online. There was a diversity of cultures present as well, bringing a richness of insight and experience to the discussion.

A one week intensive with three sessions online a day could have been a difficult challenge, but the mix of lectures, experimental worship, guest speakers and group work made for an enjoyable and enriching time. One of the surprises was the great sense of community and support that was developed through the week, whilst we longed for face to face, the honest sharing and learning together connected everyone in unexpected ways.

…the honest sharing and learning together connected everyone in unexpected ways.

During the week as well as dipping deeply into child development, social constructs, educational theories, children spirituality, how the Church engages with children and what it means to engage children well around mission, we had a number of guest speakers from across our Synod sharing their wisdom and insights, including Melisa Giles from Uniting. Melisa was able to bring insights into resources and support available to children and families from across the community. Rev. Grant and Ali Atkins shared how the partnership between their Uniting Preschool and Wesley Mission Family Support were able to not only increase the missional work of their congregation but also provide opportunity to grow disciples and faith amongst those with no previous contact with the Church.

Jules Wright shared her insights into the importance of ritual for children and adults alike, and how we can help support families to bring that into their life. Dr. Ruth Powell shared the learnings for the church gained from National Church Life Survey around children and their relationship with the Church.  Mary- Ellen Jamieson shared her experience using creativity to connect with the community and engaging with the community in a time of crisis, sharing her story of running a kids club after the traumatic bush fires through the Blue Mountains.

The sessions on the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse were difficult to work through, but reminded us how important it was that we learn from these experiences in the hope to create safer communities for our children into the future. We were reminded that it is not just a thing of the past but still occurs today and that the safe church measures are essential as we move forward as a church towards healing and wholeness.

We concluded the week with sharing our cultural experience of children and families, sacred stories bringing insight and depth to both the individual and group reflections on ministry and practice within children and family ministry.

Look out for the course as it will likely be offered again next year, by checking the United Theological College website.

Karen Mitchel-Lambert

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