Last Thursday (27 January) some 35 church representatives and teachers from local schools gathered in St Peter’s & St Paul’s Parish Church by Grays station to receive training in how to set up a child-friendly labyrinth as part of March’s Celebrating RE month.
Led by Deborah Weston and Fiona Moss, the training was put on in collaboration with Thurrock’s SACRE (Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education), represented by Mary Taylor of St Margaret’s, Stanford-le-Hope.
The session – called “Learning about and from Easter through labyrinths and reflection exercises at key stage 2” – was clearly presented and took delegates through a brief history of labyrinths and showed contemporary examples of labyrinths as an aid to prayer and worship.
The theme being explored was expressly that of the Easter Passion, since the Celebrating RE month is in the period leading up to that.
Three ‘stations’ were set up around the church building so groups of people could experience a labyrinth for themselves. Each of these stations explored a theme from the Easter story: Forgiveness, Hope and Freedom.
We were then led through the practicalities of creating a labyrinth and how to implement ideas.
The idea is for churches to set up a labyrinth using these ideas or by creating their own, and inviting local primary schools to bring in their classes to take part in the labyrinth and so become acquainted with the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection – so many young people have simply not even heard of Jesus. Not only is it a means of gently communicating the Gospel but also a way of developing links and contacts between church and school.
This may mean in the future creating opportunities for schools to simply visit a church to look around the building or explore a particular denominational branch of Christianity and compare with another – and, of course, other religions. (Members of the Sikh community were also present.)
Equally, RE teachers can use the resource to set up in-school labyrinths to encourage children to explore the themes arising from a number of Christian festivals around the year, although it was stressed that the Easter story covers the most ‘real’ questions that any child has, most poignantly, ‘Why do people have to die?’.
On behalf of all who attended, Transformation Thurrock would like to thank Deborah and Fiona for their seminar, and Rev Darren Barlow for hosting – and making copious cups of tea!
Prayer For Schools (formerly the Schools Prayer Network):
Prayer Spaces in Schools (Thurrock contact – Carla Taylor of the Stanford Boiler Room):
- http://uk.24-7prayer.com/schools-and-youth/ (where you can see the video of the St Edwards’ School prayer space)
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iaIYYezOWHw (another video of a prayer space in Guildford)
- A group at one of the stations
- Fiona in full flow
- Revs. Clive Russell, Janice White, Rosemary Pritchard, Andy Higgs & Darren Barlow
- One of the stations – planting the seeds of hope
- Darren serving refreshments in the Oak Room
- Fiona and Deborah
PS By the way, a labyrinth is different to a maze!