At the request of parents, the Stay and Play team decided to keep running for three weeks in the summer holidays and this proved very popular. As well as the usual pattern of play, crafts, drinks and toast, Ashleigh ran three Toddler storytimes in the Parish Church. 
The stories and activities were based on three well known Bible stories:
Noah’s Ark
Breaking down the walls of Jericho
Feeding of the five thousand
These together with simple prayers were much appreciated by children and adults alike.‚Äč

We restart Stay and Play on Friday 6thSept  9.15am – 11.15am in the West-end of St Mary & St Helen. Pre-school children and babies are warmly welcomed to bring with them their parents, grandparents, childminders or carers.
I would like to thank our volunteers who help on the morning and those who set up for us on a Thursday. We are making good progress in creating a younger community group who support one another, surrounded by the love of Jesus in our lovely Church.

Please keep our group in your prayers, that we may grow and reach more young families in our town.

     Thank you, Angela Klabou 336 6312



It’s just the Toddler Group!......No! ……..        It’s the Gold dust of the Church!

Early years are hugely important to our faith journey. New research by the Church of England has shown that 76% of Christians started their walk with Christ under the age of 18 and 40% started under the age of 5. Church-based Toddler groups are important because they show all those who come to them that they are loved and valued by God. There is a considerable impact on parents at Christian Toddler groups. In our churches we are missing the 20’s and 30’s age group. But they are the ones who are parents of toddlers. 
The Toddler group is both ministry and outreach to that age group. It is a hidden offering to the community and a missional opportunity for the church. It needs to be prayed for and given support. The missional potential is in offering love, hope and stability with the possibility of transforming church and communities. It nurtures people by building relationships and friendship. We should treat them as honoured guests because God loves us, so we should love them. When telling stories to the children, the adults are listening. Faith journeys are nurtured in toddler groups, lives are transformed and links are created for faith at home.
Mums who have been in a working environment suddenly find themselves isolated with a baby in a new and strange environment. Or they may be new to the area. When coming to a church-based Toddler group, they find a welcome and an understanding environment. New mums value the support, advice and sharing of problems with other mums, dads, grandparents or child minders and so it helps to reaffirm parents. Another example is the help and support these groups can offer to refugee families. These Toddler groups are not in isolation from the church … they are ‘the Gold dust of the church’.
Stay and Play, our Toddler group in the west end of St Mary and St Helen runs from 9.15am to 11.15am on Friday mornings. There is also one at St Michael’s on Wednesday mornings 10am to 12 noon. Both welcome new visitors.
Please pray for this ministry in our parish, the teams that run the groups and most of all the toddlers and parents/carers who come to them.
‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes a humble place – becoming like this child – is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.’  Matthew 18.1-5

The research concludes: Toddler Groups are one of the best ways the Church of England can reach young families.

Angela Klabou

This article is based on a presentation given by Mary Hawes, National Children and Youth Adviser for the Church of England. You can download the accompanying booklet by googling ‘It’s just the Toddler Group’.



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