ROBERT MAGUIRE speaks for us all
It was in January 2014 that we welcomed Karen into our midst. We had recruited her in the hope that she would bring new ideas and breathe new life into our Children and Families’ Ministry. Well, we haven’t been disappointed! Looking back now to those cold wet days of early 2014 it’s hard to remember how little Karen had to work with and how far we have come under her leadership.
The early months were far from easy. On Karen’s very first day we happened to be having our post-Christmas Messy Church. It meant that Karen was plunged straight into her new role, taking the opportunity to meet as many of the parents and children as possible. As January gave way to February, we had heavy rains and flooded roads but Karen still battled through from Marnhull each day showing great determination and resilience – something which has continued throughout her time with us (although the rains haven’t and she no longer lives in Marnhull!)
It was a pretty steep learning curve for Karen in the first year. She had to get to know us, the church members, and enlist our help and support. She had to get out into the community to meet some of the young families out there and find out what might attract them to BMC. To this end she ran a survey which gave us some interesting insights into why so few young families came to worship with us. She made contact with all of the First and Middle Schools and visited the Broadstone Youth Club. She worked very hard as she built up her contacts, formulated ideas and ran some experimental events, but we were impatient for results and didn’t always appreciate how difficult it was. Fortunately, Karen likes a challenge and we certainly gave her one!
Karen was quick to get involved with Messy Church, already established as a very successful initiative, and a great jumping off point for her ministry. Her contacts there and elsewhere enabled her to start the Ladies’ Craft Group. Initially this was going to be six evenings leading up to Christmas and maybe six more leading up to Easter. By popular demand it quickly grew to be so much more than that.
Broadway was the next new idea and what a great idea it was. To have a group of families meet regularly for supper, activities and conversation has proved, by its continued popularity, to be a good way to meld established church families with new younger families looking for a way in.
Karen then saw the opportunity to open the coffee lounge after school once a week for the younger children and their parents. She reasoned that the older children can congregate around Costa but there is no equivalent safe place for First and Middle school children. Again, this turned out to be an inspired idea as Thirsty Thursday became a ‘must-not-miss’ Thursday activity for a group of mums and children.
As the children who came to Thirsty Thursday got older, Karen saw the opportunity for a spin-off and, with help from Deacon Sarah, TIC was formed. The name was invented by the youngsters themselves and stands for Thought, Inspiration and Communication. TIC includes a Bible lesson and lots of fun games and activities. It is an invaluable way of maintaining contact with children as they move on from Messy Church and Thirsty Thursday.
Karen has been highly regarded in the various Broadstone schools in which she has taken assemblies and been involved in the teaching. The children have loved the things Karen has done with them in school, and that makes them all the more likely to come to our events and bring their parents with them.
There is so much more I could say about what Karen has done for us. She has worked with Rev Sue on Family Worship, Breakfast Church and Café Worship. She has organised barbecues, got us to paint some street art to grace our garden, run Family Film Nights, brightened our notice boards and so much more.
For me personally it has been a privilege and a pleasure to work with Karen as her line manager. I believe she has touched so many lives in Broadstone in a very positive way and leaves behind a Children and Families’ Ministry which is well established and ready to go on to even greater heights.
As well as thanking Karen, we wish her all success and happiness in her future endeavours and we would like to assure her that there will always be a warm welcome for her at Broadstone Methodist Church.