Last week St Mary’s in Dock Road, Little Thurrock, held a labyrinth and invited classes from a local school to participate in it.
Transformation Thurrock spoke to Rev Christine Williams about the St Mary’s experience of putting on a labyrinth.
TT: What made you decide to put on a labyrinth at St Mary’s? Have you done one before?
CW: We have done 2 labyrinths before shortly before Easter in 2009 and 2010. We found the format we were using, in “Multi-sensory Church” which is published I think by SU was excellent for all ages but was particularly good for schools. The school teachers found it a very useful tool for their teaching of RE. These first 2 labyrinths were based on the events of Holy Week but were less good for talking about Easter itself so we were interested in doing a “What happened next?” labyrinth.
TT: Who put the labyrinth together?
CW: It was a collaborative effort by members of the St Mary’s congregation. I put together an outline with some suggestions for activities we might use and showed it to a few people but then we called a
meeting for all those who were interested in thinking creatively about it. I was very pleased with the response which was about half of our congregation. Our banner group helped with part of it. Everybody contributed ideas or brought items we could use.
TT: What resources did you use to generate the content, or was it all do-it-yourself?
CW: We are not proud! If we see a good idea we are happy to pick it up and use it. This labyrinth was not out of a book at all except that the idea was formulated after seeing a section in the C of E service book “Times and Seasons” which is called, ‘Stations of the Resurrection’. Some of the ideas came from the previous labyrinth, some from other worship ideas from books or from observing other churches and children’s work or were completely new.
TT: What was the theme? How many stations were there and what were they?
CW: The title was: “From Calvary to Pentecost”. We looked at many if the resurrection appearances of Jesus. starting with the cross, Mary Magdalene, the road to Emmaus, the Upper room, Thomas, the lake side, Peter’s encounter with Jesus, the Great Commission, the Ascension and Pentecost. There were 11 stations in all.
TT: Who came to see the labyrinth?
CW: The whole of Thameside junior school came with their teachers. We also had other people who had heard about it or neighbours who noticed the church was open.
TT: What was the response of the school children?
CW: The children became very engrossed in what they were doing and we often ran out of time. they had the opportunity to put post its on a board. These were questions they would want to ask Jesus or God if they were standing in front of them. Here are some of the questions (with their grammar and spellings):
- Why do people die?
- Will I be a F1 champion?
- Why should we have sins?
- how did you make earth?
- Did you make it?
- Why did Judas betray you?
- Why is ther war?
- Why do you travel on donky?
- Would you love me even if I do the wrong thing?
- Jesus I wish you were alive.
TT: What did their teachers think?
CW: They seemed to be glad to have this as a resource for their RE teaching. The children seemed to be learning a lot about the Easter story as they travelled round the church.
TT: What was the response from the members of St Mary’s and other people who came in?
CW: Many of the church people helped to take the children round and were very good with them. Others helped by setting it all up or by sitting in the church to keep it open. It was very much owned by the congregation. Other visitors seemed to appreciate it.
TT: What would you say was the highlight or most fulfilling aspect of holding this labyrinth?
CW: Observing the spirituality of the children in an age when this is often denied. Their questions were honest and might have been expected from adults. another highlight was the collaboration of the congregation in making it happen.
TT: Will you be doing any other labyrinths?
CW: I hope so. We will need to give the matter some prayer.
TT: Do you think this has helped St Mary’s and the local school to bond more and be of help in the future?
CW I am sure it has. We already run an after school club in Thameside Juniors
TT: Would you encourage other churches to put on a labyrinth – and why?
CW: It takes up a lot of time and energy but we feel it has been worth it. God has blessed us through it and I believe he is blessing the school through our contact.
TT: Thank you, Christine.