Storytelling with under-fives…

Storytelling

Children’s work magazine has written a really helpful article on storytelling with under 5s.

 

Some of their top tips include:

  • Keep it short
  • Using all the senses
  • Reflecting on the emotions
  • Involve the audience
  • Use of repetition
  • Sound effects
  • Practise makes perfect
  • Props
  • Starting well

 

Go read the full article to inspire you on story telling with toddlers.

Breast Ironing or Breast Flattening – briefing by Tri.x

Trix briefingHorrendous to hear this morning about Breast Ironing also known as “Breast Flattening”.

This is the process whereby young pubescent girls breasts are ironed, massaged and/or pounded down through the use of hard or heated objects in order for the breasts to disappear or delay the development of the breasts entirely.

The mutilation is a traditional practice from Cameroon designed to make teenage girls look less “womanly” and to deter unwanted male attention, pregnancy and rape. The practice is commonly performed by family members, 58% of the time by the mother.  In many cases the abuser thinks they are doing something good for their daughter, by delaying the effects of puberty so that she can continue her education, rather than getting married.

For more information check out the Tri.x briefing.

Archbishop of Canterbury to lead huge evangelism project

justin-welby

Christian Today is reporting that the Archbishop of Canterbury is to lead the biggest evangelism project in the UK so far this millennium:

Every cathedral, church and clergyman and woman in the land is being urged to share their faith and win new converts to Christianity.

Cathedrals and churches are being urged to set aside the week before Pentecost as a week of prayer for evangelism.

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York, Justin Welby and Dr John Sentamu, are calling cathedrals and other churches to use the week running up to Pentecost Sunday on May 15 to pray for new followers to Christ.

The entire Church is being urged to pray throughout the week for “all Christians to deepen their relationship with Jesus” in order to have “confidence” to share the faith. The aim is for “all to respond to the call of Jesus Christ to follow him.”

The two Archbishops are currently writing to all 11,300 Church of Engand clergy inviting them to “engage” with the project. They are being asked to organise round-the-clock prayer marathons, one-off events and other meetings and gatherings to help towards the evangelisation effort.

Five or six cathedrals will hold “beacon” events with services and events led by both Archbishops and some bishops, evangelical worship leaders such as Matt Redman, Tim Hughes and Martin Smith and in collaboration with 24-7 Prayer.

40 Acts: Do Lent Generously

40 Acts - Live Lent Generously

Lent is usually about ‘giving stuff up’, isn’t it? What if you could add something transformational to the traditional?

40acts is the multi award-winning challenge from Christian charity Stewardship that invites you to do Lent generously.

What if you could give up chocolate and give the money to your favourite charity? What if you could turn the TV off and spend more time helping your neighbour? What if Lent was a preparation for a lifetime of big-heartedness that reflected God’s amazing generosity?

40 Acts encourages you to do one act of generosity each day from February 10th to March 26th 2016. 75,000 people signed up last year to receive the challenges and reflections by email and this year’s sign up is now open. You can also download resources for churches, small groups, families and schools here.

Latest Hampshire Children and Young People’s Plan published

The Hampshire Children and Young People’s Plan (CYPP) 2015 – 2018 has been published online.

Hampshire Children and Young People's Plan

The CYPP is the overarching strategy for the Hampshire Children’s Trust which represents all those working for, and with children, young people and their families. It reflects a shared commitment to improve the lives of children and young people in Hampshire, and to make Hampshire an even better place in which to enjoy a good childhood.

 

Focusing on the following priorities, the CYPP will build on the work that is already taking place across Hampshire:

  • Be healthy
  • Stay safe
  • Enjoy and achieve
  • Make a positive contribution
  • Achieve economic wellbeing

 

In addition to providing more detail on the above priorities, the full Plan contains detailed background, the vision and principles of the Hampshire Children’s Trust  the key achievements resulting from the CYPP 2012 – 2015, Hampshire’s profile,  and sets out the context for the Hampshire CYPP 2015- 2018.

 

Teenage artists wanted for Group Publishing’s Biblica Bible project

Student-art

Group, a US based, non-denominational Christian publisher, is partnering with Biblica to produce a New Testament Bible for youth. What will make this Bible unique is the editorial and visual elements featured in this Bible will be created by teenagers.

They are looking for teenage artists to do interpretive illustrations for the introductions to the books of the New Testament. Based on samples submitted by young people, they will select four teenagers who will each illustrate up to six of the Bible introductions.

What they are looking for…

  • Teenagers age 16-19 who love to draw very expressive and interpretive art.
  • The interior of the Bible is 2 color (Black plus another color). So the art will need to be one/two color line art.

What’s in it for the student…

  • Each artist will be given credit in the final printed piece.
  • Their art will be used in marketing efforts to promote the new Bible.
  • Students can include their finished work in their own portfolios as commissioned commercial art.
  • Each student will be given a write-up in one of our blogs promoting them, their art, and their school.
  • Each student will get “real world” experience with an art director and publisher.
  • Each student will receive 5 free copies of the Bible after it’s been printed.
  • Selected student artist will receive a contract for up to 6 illustrations and be paid $99 per illustration completed.

The only requirements for this opportunity…

  • The student must be between the age of 16 and 19 years old.
  • Students selected to work on the project will need to complete all illustrations contracted for in 5 weeks. (We will contact artists directly to determine the number of illustrations they believe they can complete in this time frame.)

Submissions begin now.

  • Students need to submit a sample of their art style to Jeff Storm, Art Director at Group Publishing.
  • Attach 1-2 samples as a .jpg file to an email addressed to jstorm@group.com (please limit attachment size to 5 MB).
  • Please make subject line in email- Biblica Bible illustration submission
  • Include your full name, attach the samples to the email, and let us know a little something about the samples you are sending and why you’d like to be considered for this project.
  • Sample submissions must be received no later than Feb 21, 2016.
  • The selected artists will be notified by Feb 26, 2016
  • The selected artists will have five weeks beginning Feb 29, 2016 to complete the illustrations contracted for.
    Biblica Youth Bible release is scheduled for September 2016.

Click here to download a summary to hand out to young people.

 

What is religious education for?

RE-heart-picture

Nigel Genders, Chief Education Officer for the Church of England has recently blogged on What is religious education for?.  He starts with:

It is tempting to see the primary reasons for good religious education as being combatting extremism and promoting community cohesion. This feeds nicely in to national political and news agendas but by doing this we confuse safeguarding with education, distort the need for a healthy pluralism in society and accept a simplistic narrative that says religion is the cause of most of the world’s problems. The primary purpose of religious education must in fact be to enable young people to make sense of themselves and the world in which they live and from these seeds will grow communities equipped to live well together.

It’s really worth taking a few minutes to read his take on the need for good quality religious education.

 

 

Why the Church is helping children understand how to handle money

Money

The Church of England have blogged on the importance of helping children to understand how to handle money, here’s a few snippets:

A couple of years ago many parishes in the Church of England decided to take some practical steps towards creating a fairer financial system where everyone in the community flourishes. We did this because we believe there’s no division between ‘spiritual’ and ‘non-spiritual’ parts of life. The good news of Jesus Christ is for the whole human being. He wants to see every human being flourish.

 

Working in partnership with Young Enterprise and local credit unions, the scheme encourages children to save small, regular amounts of money. This is combined with teaching resources to help children understand the values that underpin this kind of approach to money. It’s not just teachers; parents, carers and the whole community are encouraged to get involved with children’s financial education.

When I prayed with the children during their assembly yesterday, I prayed especially for those whose households have serious money problems. Where there are such difficulties, it may lead to a whole range of other problems tightening their grip on a family: substance abuse, domestic violence and marital breakdown, among others.

So the way that money is dealt with is about human flourishing at its deepest level – and it is absolutely right that the church is helping to try and break this cycle before it affects another generation. Meanwhile, on a practical level it makes perfect sense for the Church of England, which is involved in the education of a million children around the country, to be using our particular platform to make this contribution.

Go check out the full blog here.

 

 

Discussion starter: Muslim teen cuts off hand to prove faith

Mosque

A couple of weeks ago there were a series of articles about 15 year old Mohammad Anwar.  He was accused of blasphemy after mishearing a question at a mosque, and so went home to cut off his own hand. Since then, he’s become a local hero.

Youthministry.com have written a helpful discussion starter on this for you to use with your youth group reflecting on faith, commitment, and blasphemy.

 

 

Sally Phillips on parenting a child with additional needs in church

Sally PhillipsRuth Jackson from Childrenswork Magazine has done a great interview with actress Sally Philips on parenting a child with additional needs in church.  Sally and her husband have three sons and Olly, their eldest (aged 11) has Down’s syndrome.

RJ: Not every church has the necessary resources and manpower to serve children with special educational needs (SEN). Do you have any advice for churches and children’s workers?

SP: Good will is a good start but it’s often not enough. Generally, children’s workers are not prepared enough and the activities not differentiated enough so that kids with SEN can access them. There’s also a lack of volunteers. In school, Olly has one-to-one support. In church, he doesn’t, even though he still needs it. In school, his lessons are adapted, in church, he has to do the same as the others. If you prepare the lesson with multi-sensory options, all of the children will benefit, as there are many typically developing kids who prefer different ways of learning.

Incidentally, more traditional forms of church are much easier for SEN adults to access than ‘as the Spirit leads’ churches. The ritual and physicalisation of worship and prayer, the prayer book that they can follow, the same pattern every week, the weekly Eucharist etc are very helpful for people whose primary mode of communication may not be verbal.

Sally goes on to give some really helpful practical ideas that churches can use to be more inclusive to children with additional needs – it’s well worth taking the time to read this.

New Lead Bishop on Safeguarding

Peter Hancock, the Bishop of Bath and WellsThe Church of England has announced that the Rt Revd Peter Hancock, the Bishop of Bath and Wells, is to be the Church’s new lead Bishop on Safeguarding.

He will succeed the Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham, who has carried out the role for the last six years.

Bishop Peter will take up the role after the meeting of the General Synod in July of this year.

Bishop Paul said:

“It has been a deep privilege to lead this work in the Church over the past six years during a time of transformation. The Church of England is making significant strides in its policies, training and resourcing of safeguarding and whilst we can never be complacent I am grateful for the work that has begun. We have a long way to go and there is still much more to be done.

“I am delighted that Bishop Peter will be leading the Church’s work in this area from the summer. I remain committed to working towards us being a safer church and ensuring the Church of England is a place of safety and welcome for all.”

Assembly: Tolerance

Rosa Parks seated toward the front of the bus, Montgomery, Alabama, 1956. (Photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images)

This was the assembly I gave this morning at one of our local Junior schools, on the theme of tolerance:

The past few hundred years have been marked by ethnic and racial conflict, as the Holocaust, the Rwanda genocide and the ongoing war in Syria demonstrate. There have also been individuals who have stood above the hatred and violence, however, and called for peace and cooperation. One of the most famous fighters for peace was Rev. Dr Martin Luther King.

Can you imagine a time when black people were only allowed to sit on certain seats at the back of a bus? When black people were not allowed to vote in elections? Can you imagine a town where black and white children had to attend separate schools? Where black and white young people were separated at dances by a line down the middle of the room?

Sixty years ago, in the southern states in America, this was how it was. Let’s hear about three ordinary people who had the courage to speak out.

An ordinary clergyman, with a minister for a father and a teacher for a mother, organized peaceful protests and boycotts against discrimination. Here was an ordinary black man who spoke out against the injustice that he saw. This ordinary black man delivered extraordinary speeches with memorable lines like ‘I have a dream that one day down in Alabama … little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.’

This man was Martin Luther King, Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1964, assassinated in 1968, at just 39 years old.

In the town of Montgomery, like most places in the deep south, buses were segregated. On 1 December 1955, Rosa Parks left Montgomery Fair, the department store where she worked, and got on the same bus as she did every night. As always, she sat in the ‘black section’ at the back of the bus. However, when the bus became full, the driver instructed Rosa to give up her seat to a white person. When she refused, she was arrested by the police.

In protest against bus segregation, it was decided that from 5 December, black people in Montgomery would refuse to use the buses until passengers were completely integrated. For 382 days, the 17,000 black people in Montgomery walked to work. Eventually, the loss of revenue and a decision by the Supreme Court forced the Montgomery Bus Company to accept integration.

An ordinary woman showed extraordinary courage. This ordinary woman became known as the ‘Mother of the Civil Rights Movement’.

On 28 August 1963, two to three hundred thousand Americans converged on Washington DC. This was the ‘March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom’. The organizers had many aims, but what unified the march was a call for greater freedoms for African-Americans. The date chosen for the march fell on the one-hundredth anniversary of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which ended slavery in the United States of America. Racial inequality was still rampant, however, and African-Americans were treated as second-class citizens in many states.

President Kennedy was attempting to pass the Civil Rights Act at the time, which would provide greater freedoms for African-Americans. While many marched as a show of support for the President, others marched to criticize the Act for not going far enough.

Dr King was tasked with giving the final speech and he captured both the anger and the optimism of the march. ‘America has given the Negro people a bad cheque’, he said, referring to the centuries of slavery and racial injustice, but ‘we’ve come to cash this cheque’ by marching together. The civil rights leaders had come together to the nation’s capital to demand a fair deal for all.

Yet it is the ‘I have a dream  . . .’ segment of his speech that has passed into history. Dr King called not for acts of revenge against oppressors but understanding and cooperation. The most famous line of the speech – ‘I have a dream, that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!’ – carries a promise of peace, reconciliation and an end to racial conflict.

Those two examples are completely true. This one is not. It is taken from the 2007 hit movie Hairspray. It’s Baltimore, 1962, and Tracy Turnblad, an ordinary young girl, is obsessed with the Corny Collins Show. Tracy auditions for the show and gets to appear – a dream come true! However, she becomes aware of the way that her black dancer friends are being treated and realizes that she has to do something. As she tells her father, ‘I think I’ve kind of been in a bubble … thinking that fairness was gonna just happen. It’s not. People like me are gonna have to get up off their fathers’ laps and go out and fight for it.’ This ordinary young girl brings about an extraordinary integration.

This, too, was the power of Mahatma Gandhi – the humble little man in peasant’s clothes who, armed only with the weapons of love, peace and justice, brought the mighty British Empire to its knees. Gandhi believed passionately that if his cause was a just one he would win – no matter how powerful the forces against him. He famously said: ‘Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth.’ Gandhi was ‘one man come in the name of love’.

At the heart of the Christian faith there is also ‘one man come in the name of love’. Jesus enters Jerusalem knowing that it is there that he will come into conflict with the might of the Roman Empire and face the fury of the Jewish religious establishment. And so he comes armed – armed with the weapons of love, forgiveness and peace – and he comes riding the humble donkey.

Into a world of division and barbarism and violence – a world, in other words, not unlike our own – comes the Prince of Peace, whose power lies not in military might but in selfless love. And here’s the thing: his kingdom, established by the power of love, rather than bullets, has lasted far longer and been far more influential than the kingdom of any military conqueror?

Time for reflection

What are you and I prepared to do in the name of love?
Do we have even a fraction of the courage of the Tank Man
or Rosa Parks
or Martin Luther King
or Gandhi?
Can we walk with Jesus on the way of the cross?

In the face of a world of greed, violence and oppression;
here at school in the face of the bully and the aggressor
or in the face of those who simply do not care –
what will you and I do in the name of love?
Prayer
Lord,
give us vision that we may see a better world,
and give us courage that we may act to make it happen.
Amen.