Fellowships in north Grays are working together over the summer period to provide a holiday club for the local community. TT spoke with Ashley Lovett, pastor at Socketts Heath Baptist Church, and David Bates, who works for the South Essex Methodist circuit (basically the Methodist church in Thurrock), who have been leads in this project.
TT: Which fellowships are involved in the project over the summer? How did this unity come about?
AL: The project is being run by Grays Methodist, Grays URC, Socketts Heath Baptist, St John’s (Victoria Avenue), and St Cedd’s. We’re building on some joint work done together last year for the Olympic Torch relay (which involved 3 of these churches) and open air (and in the rain) carol singing / Christmas gift giving which we did in mid December.
DB: All these churches are churches clustered around Lodge Lane.
TT: Who are the target group for the summer club?
DB: The hope of attracting those between the ages of five and eleven. Chiefly we want to provide for those in the northern part of Grays but others have registered and we wouldn’t turn them away.
AL: The holiday club is for all children currently in Primary School – that is those who are just coming to the end of Reception and Years 1 to 6. It’s for girls and boys and people of any faith or none.
TT: Are the fellowships mentioned providing the volunteers? How is recruitment going?
DB: The running of the four days from 24th to 27th of July will be in the hands of Christian people of various persuasions working together to provide sport, craft and games activities.
AL: All five of the churches are represented in the team of volunteers that will be delivering the club. We have teenagers all the way through to octagenarians. Trying to get everyone together hasn’t been easy and it may not be until the first day that some of the volunteers get to see who they’re working with. But that’s part of the fun of working across the boundaries of our usual church groupings.
TT: How many children do you hope to attract, and how are you advertising the club?
AL: We’d set a limit at 120 – the most we felt we had the space to cater for, but at the moment take-up has been quite slow. We have advertised in all five of the churches and through connected groups (like Brownies) plus we’ve delivered over 5000 leaflets through primary schools within the immediate vicinity of the participating churches. If anyone reading this would like to invite children they know please pass on the flier (see linked page) and ask them to get in touch as soon as possible.
TT: What activities are you planning for the club?
DB: Champion’s Challenge is part of the Olympic legacy and takes a sporting theme. We have an enthusiastic Cricket Coach from a local club, who is experienced with coaching children, but the plan also includes football, rounder’s and less formally organised games. In addition there will be opportunities for games, craft and stories making up a fun packed start to the summer.
AL: There will be the usual mixture of stories, crafts, songs, puzzles and games. We’re privileged to be welcoming some great people from Stanford-le-Hope Cricket Club, who will be doing some basic cricket skills on one morning, and we’re still hoping that another outside sports group might give us a morning too.
TT: What outcomes are you hoping for from this project?
AL: We’ve already achieved one – getting the churches to tackle a bigger project together – and that in itself would have made it worthwhile. But we’d also love to see children enjoying the various activities we’re offering, learning something simple about God’s love for them in Jesus, and going away thinking (and the parents thinking too) that the churches in North Grays have something good to offer this community.
DB: Hopefully there will be a lot of happy children and we hope they will be encouraged to take up sport for themselves. At the heart of everything is the message that God loves us just as we are and that in spite of our failings He has made a way for us to enjoy His pleasure in our lives for ever.
TT: Where and when is the club taking place? Who and where do we contact for more details?
DB: Daily registration is at 9:15am on Wednesday to Saturday, 24th to 27th July, at the United Reformed Church in Bradleigh Avenue; Grays RM17 5XD. Final whistle is at 12:00 noon each day.
AL: And to book send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or text David on 07958 560865.
TT: Thank you David and Ashley. Finally, please give us some prayer pointers.
DB: Please pray for God to provide fine weather, enthusiastic volunteers, engaged and excited children, and enough energy for four days of frenetic activity.
AL: Our biggest prayer need is for children to sign up and come along. Nothing makes a club like this for the youngsters than the energy brought by a good number. We’d also value prayers for tying up loose ends in the planning (there are a lot of them), preparation of stories, crafts, puzzles and games (still going on), the team to gel and work well together (especially as there’ll be different volunteers coming and going each day), and for the children and the volunteers all to be touched by God’s love and grace, in ways that will be right and helpful for each one of us.
For more information contact
Children and Family Worker
South Essex Methodist Circuit
T: 07958 560865,
Scripture Union’s Champion’s Challenge holiday club is part of a range of resources, fiction and information books for individuals, and churches providing for their local communities. Scripture Union also works in schools, runs residential holidays, missions and overseas placements, and offers training opportunities.