St Barnabas CE VC Primary School
Revd Barrie Green
St Agnes’ Church, St Paul’s, Bristol City
St Agnes’ Church in the inner-city St Paul’s parish hosted this Christmas experience for the school. It served to engage children in a new way and represented significant progress in a journey of trust between the church, the school, and the Muslim population.
In his continuing work with the majority Muslim school, Barrie takes inspiration from the book Celebrating Difference, Staying Faithful by Andrew Wingate. It is a resource which helps develop Christian leaders and communities willing to engage constructively and positively in a multi-faith community.
Last Christmas saw great progress in the church’s engagement with the local Muslim population when it hosted Star Trail – a multisensory Christmas experience which follows the journey of the Wise Men to Bethlehem. Children visit seven ‘stations’ which enable them to enter into the Christmas story.
Work with the children began at the school, exploring parallels between the stories of the Virgin Birth in the Koran and the Bible. The activity shared the Christian perspective with the children, explaining how Jesus is understood as God by Christians. The Biblical story of Jesus and his family’s flight into Egypt captured the imagination of many of the children who are themselves refugees from conflict in Somalia.
Members of the congregation were on-hand in the church at each of the stations to welcome and engage. Children were able to participate in a way that a normal Christian service probably wouldn’t allow. This represented a great step on the journey of trust between the church and school on the one hand and, on the other, the Muslim families whom they serve.