Messy Church Willunga Award

Posted in News

Messy Church Willunga recently received an Intergenerational award as part of the 2021 Every Generation Onkaparinga Awards. Lois, Jenny, Jani, Charisse and Geoff attended the awards evening and are pictured with the certificate and beautiful big clock which has the message: Family is where our story begins.

Messy Church Willunga is a form of church for children and adults that involves creativity, celebration and hospitality. It's a church for people at all stages of their faith journey and of any age. It started from scratch in Willunga in 2019 and has steadily grown a following of little people and their parents, grandparents and great grandparents from across the population of the Southern Vales.

The Messy Church team has sourced funding, developed promotional materials (signage, flags and postcards) and invested in a sound system to aid in their outdoor activities. The ethos of connecting with people who are not connected to other social, creative or faith activities is a legacy Messy Church Willunga has embraced.

Messy Church is also active in the wider community and participated in the 2019 Willunga Almond Blossom Parade and also in the Willunga Uniting Church Carols in the Park in December 2020. All activities have had the added layer of complexity in maintaining COVID-19 restrictions.

Planning for each monthly Messy Church is also a team effort that requires lots of liaison with everyone involved. Many hours of time are spent encouraging and organising volunteers to ensure a fun and nourishing time for all at Messy Church.

All age experiences improve well-being through the growth and development of emotional, social and spiritual needs. It is inspiring to interact with families who attend Messy Church Willunga, with three or four generations from a family attending. The age range of participants is from one-year-olds to over eighty years of age and sometimes, weather permitting, Messy Church happens outside which enables everyone to flourish in the relaxed, nature-based environment in the Church paddock (Bell Paddock). It is a great way to learn about how much God loves us and how our identity is linked to our knowledge of being loved and valued by God and God's people, encouraging us all in our life's journey.

Messy Church Willunga is a team project. Older people have taken on and established their roles in hospitality, welcoming, musicianship, story-telling and leading craft activities. Messy Church volunteers include Lois who recently turned eighty and has so much energy for hospitality, she is also a great cook and an inspiration for all ages.

Young children have taken the lead in staging a drama and also in teaching energetic dance moves and new songs. Jan is over eighty-five and involved in the music and never misses attendance - a welcoming presence for all. There are many other people over eighty who are part of the Messy Church community who assist with activities including set up and pack up and provide great support for the whole community. It is a source of pride for the older generation to see the very young enjoying themselves in this very much informal setting where friendships and faith are flourishing.

The Willunga Uniting Church desires to be a place for families and individuals to come to know and experience how deep and wide God's love is for us. After the first year of finding their feet as an all age intergenerational experience Messy Church Willunga had to take up the challenge of how to stay connected during the COVID19 lockdown. One of the major highlights has been the innovation that the team has shown during these challenging times.

The team developed gift bags as one of the ways to stay connected with families. They started a Messenger page and shared videos of stories, plus recommended websites with fun science and craft ideas and were able to visit all families with the gift bags. The team is always seeking ideas and input from all ages whether it is about what games, crafts, songs and food they would like, it is a collaborative and sharing process.

Recently participants were asked to bring a baby photograph to share together for a guessing game, all ages brought photos and many memories were shared. Willunga Uniting Church prays that they be grounded and established in God’s love and may learn to grasp how wide and high and deep is the love of God, so their Messy Church and wider community can share this love.

Messy Church is happy that we have been able to meet monthly again in 2021.The Messy Church Willunga team is entirely made up of volunteers with no paid people involved, but there is a wealth of life experience being shared.





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