Parish of Penn Street with Holmer Green awarded £2,500 to support engagement with young families

Priest-in-charge Revd Ruth Atkinson applied to the Development Fund to help reach out to the young families of the parish of Penn Street with Holmer Green and was awarded £2,500 in April 2021. Ruth picks up the story and tells us all about why she applied and how the Development Fund will be transformational in terms of engaging with families and young people.

“I am quite new to the parish as I was only licenced in November 2020 and then we went straight back into lockdown, so hadn’t had a lot of opportunity to get to know the community face to face. However, what I did notice was that there was a core group of about six families who continued to worship with us online, despite the fact that there wasn’t a specific all-age service for them. I really felt that we could be offering more, and as restrictions eased, I couldn’t escape the fact that we are truly blessed at Holy Trinity in Penn in terms of having access to an incredible outdoor space, being located in Penn Woods. The more I thought about it, the more I thought we should be using this amazing resource, and hit on an idea to combine worship with the outdoors – Woodland Worship was born!

“The children and families are used to the concept of forest school so feel more comfortable in these surroundings, and we are hopeful that this format of informal worship will attract a wider range of families who perhaps feel nervous of being confined to a building for an hour’s service – as well as this, during the current pandemic, offering outdoor worship allows us to socially distance and adhere to government regulations.

“Our plan is that initially we will host Woodland Worship once a month – children will be able to build dens, bug hotels and undertake family activities, as well as coming together for a short period of reflection, worship and interactive learning. We really want to let young people experience God with their families and through creation and show that God is all around us and not just at church. We hope that this gentle introduction to faith, in a safe space will help them to grow in confidence and share their experiences with friends.

“We haven’t been able to begin offering Woodland Worship yet as we need to build our team a little and work with the deanery to see if other parishes would like to take part, or share our resources but in the meantime, we are looking to buy a marquee and outdoor sound system as well as picnic benches and other seating to allow families to sit together. We’ll also be asking the congregation to help us prepare a lot of the equipment, creating a real sense of community.

“We are so excited about receiving the grant as it is allowing us to build the foundations of a long term project that will benefit all of the parish. We plan to offer a light meal after the service, so that we’re building a fellowship that will last for many years.”

Ruth hopes that the first service will take place in September, and we will be checking back in with her and the team to see how they are getting on.

Learn more about the Development Fund and see how it can help you and your church.