St Anselm’s Kennington Cross benefits enormously from the large numbers of children it works with, both in church on a Sunday but also from our toddler group (Church Mice) and our thriving choir (Young Voices). As with everyone we had to rethink our activities pretty sharpish as the pandemic took hold and we felt strongly the need to keep connected both with the children we would see regularly under normal circumstances and also those less known to us who may have been struggling for a variety of reasons. An unexpected by-product of our work for and with the children was how much pleasure it gave the adults as well.
- We hand-sewed and filled ‘Prayer and Play Bags’ which were distributed to all those children on our Sunday School/Creche/Church Mice rolls. The physical handing out of these, albeit from a distance, allowed us to make contact with families – we found this was hugely welcomed.
- In place of our annual dog show within the parish fete, we held a virtual pet show where we asked people to send in photographs of their pets according to a number of categories. As well as real pets, we asked children to draw pictures of longed-for pets. The eventual winner, as decided by the Archbishop and Mrs Welby, was a unicorn, beautifully coloured by a child from our toddler group.
- Towards Christmas we approached children, including the very youngest, to record themselves telling a joke which we then put together as a virtual advent calendar – ‘Glad Tidings’ which was updated daily through December and proved extremely popular in the church and wider community (the parish website saw unprecedented visitors!)
- As a sister project to the Comfort & Joy recipe books, with recipes drawn from members of the congregation, we distributed a little over 100 boxes, filled with seasonal foods, treats and toys, to families identified as especially in need by our church primary school and local nursery. We approached local businesses and individuals for sponsorship and were overwhelmed with the response.
- Through Lent, a different child each day (between the ages of 3 and 14) was posted on our website telling a story they had written. We called this series, ‘Night Night, God Bless’, the idea being that by telling the stories to grown ups the children would be acting out their own ministry of comforting adults at a difficult time. The clips were accompanied by a brief lullaby sung by our two Assistant Directors of Music. These stories have now been put together as a book in time for Pentecost; each participating child is being given a copy.