St Michael’s CE VC Primary School
Gail Thomas, outreach officer
Winterbourne, Kingswood & South Gloucestershire
Being bold about what your local church has to offer is a difficult one, even in the context of a trusting relationship. But done sensitively, so as not be proselytising, making the offer of hospitality and shared worship can firm up the idea of the church’s availability. A welcome pack from the church for parents of new children gently makes that invitation and affirms the church’s place in both the school and wider community.
Good engagement with the school was in place (assisting with collective worship and helping children with reading, for example) but the congregation’s schools team felt that there was room for something to more overtly promote the church. Gail approached the headteacher to ask if the school would distribute a pack to parents at the start of the next academic year. The intention was simply to make people aware that the church is there for them.
The pack is aimed at parents and contains a brief message from the rector welcoming the whole family to the school, outlining the church’s mission “to share Jesus and serve the community” and making available the ministry of prayer and pastoral support. The leaflet advertises the regular Sunday family services and children’s group, a mid-week term-time service for pre-school children, Messy Church and the holiday club. (Also, in this case of a Church school, the rector’s
welcome strongly affirms the school’s Christian foundation.) The usual church services are also included as well as contact details for enquiries or subscribing for news emails.
The welcome pack has raised the profile of the church in the school and in the community. The approach of hospitality, coupled with openness about Christian faith, creates a culture of receptivity. Children are exposed to Christian ideas in school and the church supports the statutory requirement for spiritual development. But rather than hostility, secular parents are excited and challenged by their children’s engagement with thinking critically and spiritually.