I was told when I first arrived that I came during a funny time - when not much was happening, because "everyone's away on holiday" but that things would begin getting busy when we turned the corner of September. Today is September 9 and for sure, a lot more has happened in 9 days than the last 11 days of August when I'd first arrived here.
In the last several days, I attended my first meeting to plan Messy Church and my first meeting to plan Parallel Service. I've been booked to plan Parallel's song service on the 18th and then to plan the entire service on the 25th. We spent 3+ hours disinfecting toys for Toddler Club (which happens Wednesday & Thursday every week, but today's my day off, so Sara is downstairs with the little ones & their mothers; I'll be there tomorrow) and on Monday (i.e., a few days ago) we helped out with our first Seniors Club which happens every other week. There have been 1-2 days where Sara and I were on our feet all day helping set up & take down rooms that were booked by various groups. Last night there was something called Tuesday Night Talks (?) that apparently has been done before, but not recently. I was asked to give the special music, for which I sang Give Me Jesus/Balm in Gilead. Before I sang, I was helping set up tables, chairs, place settings & helping get the light dinner ready (+helping serve), which began at 7pm prior to the actual service, which began at 8pm. After the special music, we had the sermon and then Sara & I helped pack up the room and get it ready for Toddler Club, which began this morning at 9:30.
For a little clarification, since that paragraph probably felt like a blur of information, I'll try & start from the top & give my understanding of these services & functions...
Messy Church happens once a month, and it is what it sounds like - a church service that's ... messy. It's oriented heavily (I think...) towards families with small children but is also for anyone who wants to come - it's quite the event! Crafts for the kids, etc. The responsibility I walked away from that meeting with was to try & put together a song service. Parallel Service happens 3 Sabbaths out of every month. The 4th Sabbath, everyone gathers in the main sanctuary. Parallel Service happens right across the hall from the sanctuary in the larger hall that seems to me to be rented the most whether for a club, birthday party or reception of some sort (the 2 funeral receptions I earlier blogged about were in this room). It's more casual and less traditional than the main service, and is oriented towards people who don't usually go to church, haven't been to church recently or just don't go to church very much at all.
I'll pause for a moment and say that I've seen MANY modes of outreach here at Stanborough Park Church. The church has many rooms that are rented by various groups, which apparently gets them exposed/aware of the SDA church and shows how we're just as approachable as anybody. The clubs for toddlers & seniors aren't just for SDA members, but because it takes place in this particular SDA church and is mainly planned & run by SDA members, people who aren't part of our church get drawn in in a very friendly & genuine way. I think it's great stuff, because frankly I've never seen outreach done like this; it's unique, it's all over the place and because of how they work it into so much of what they do, it comes across (at least to me) as seamless.
Back to Parallel Service. I like both the main service and Parallel. For any reading who go to PMC, I'd say that the main service is a little like 1st service and Parallel is more like 2nd service, except that the main service really does remind me of 2nd service and Parallel also feels like it's got a good dose of the Friday night vespers available to AU-Students. I hope that made sense...
In the meeting to plan the next Parallel Service, we talked about wanting to get creative worship back in the program, so it's a matter of brainstorming & prayer. Your prayers would be welcome too!!
Since Toddler Club hadn't been happening during the summertime, the lady who's in charge (my kingdom for a better memory for names!!!), Sara and I pulled out all sorts of toys (it's a good-sized storage closet-full!) and disinfected the plastic ones in hot water with a special baby-bleach. I didn't realize until later that my hands still smelled like bleach even though I'd washed them about 5 times for other reasons! Hmm... But we spent 1 hour on a Wednesday night and then 3 hours the next Monday morning getting all those toys done, and we weren't even there to work on all the toys! That should tell you how many there are... After I've actually been present for a round of Toddler Club, I'll have something to blog.
The Monday that we spent 3 hours cleaning toys, we had an hour off for lunch and then were back down at 1pm to help set up for Senior Club. I thought it was absolutely charming! Yes, the room was full of elderly people, but it didn't feel that way. It's run & prepared-for & attended-by seniors, completely. Between 1-2pm, people were buzzing around, setting up chairs & preparing hot drinks & cake. At 2pm, everyone else arrived and they went into the sanctuary for an hour of classical violin & piano music given by what looked like 2 accomplished siblings from the congregation who'd volunteered or been volunteered :-) At about 3, the music was over and they came into the room to sit down for a video after their cake & coffee. The video was a little documentary on otters in actual wildlife vs. a famous novel depicting otters. The whole thing was precious! I'd never seen anything like it, and I thought it was wonderful. After they left, we put away the chairs & vacuumed and made sure the kitchen was taken care of.
Yesterday (Tuesday) we weren't really busy until about 4pm. Sara & I closed up a room that had been booked at 4pm and went upstairs for a little longer, then we came down at 5:30 to set up-for and help during the Tuesday Night Talk. Just for review, there was a light supper between 7-8pm, then at 8:00 there was a welcome & announcements, theme song, special music & sermon.
And now it's today!