Sarah Parker-McGee – Children’s and Families’ Missioner

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As you may have heard, I am about to be Commissioned as a Children’s and Families’ Missioner for All Saints’ and I have been asked to give you all a short profile of myself, before I begin my role under the Bishop’s commission.

It all began in in 2007. Rob was at theological college, we were all living at the monastery, and I was part of a small team put together to set up a “Children’s Liturgy” group. We offered something similar to what we have here, with a little more theological depth. During that time, I also attend individual lectures on a whole manner of subjects, but most significantly focus weeks on children and family ministry and pastoral care.

In June 2010, Rob was ordained Deacon and we moved to Sedgley, a large urban town on the edge of Wolverhampton in the Worcester Diocese. I was part of the Sunday School and Youth Group leaders team. I also benefitted from working under an excellent children’s leader who was happy to give me the encouragement I needed and enough space to grow as a leader myself. Rob and I led several youth pilgrimages to Walsingham and the Monastery at Mirfield.

It became clear that, the pastoral care of families, children and youth was a ministry I felt passionately called to learning more about and developing further. In 2012, I was supported by the parish and I completed the Diocesan Lay Training for this ministry in 2013. I was commissioned as a Children and Youth Worker within the Diocese later that year.

Rob’s Curacy came to the end in January 2014 and we moved to Geddington in Northamptonshire, in the Diocese of Peterborough. For a year, I supported the existing Sunday School set-up with planning, teaching and supervision. When the Sunday School leader stepped down to become Churchwarden, she asked me to begin to take the lead on Children and Youth Ministry.

Much of the material that was being used was written in the 1980’s and no longer relevant, so I put together a new rota for each term and produced a new syllabus of readings, prayers and crafts that properly followed the lectionary of the church. Rob and I together also put together a one-year syllabus that encompassed an education in Christian tradition and morality (a simple catechism). Each were used alternately over a two-year cycle. In 2014, following some further training, the Bishop of Brixworth Licenced me as a Lay Pastoral Minister with special responsibility for Children and Youth.

I took a keen interest in supporting families in other ways too: encouraging them to return to church after a break, children to join Sunday School, Baptism, Communion before Confirmation and Confirmation and supported them during family crises and bereavement. We also introduced annual family trips, retreats and pilgrimages to the seaside, Walsingham and Mirfield.

I was also actively involved in building a more child and family friendly culture in Church. I was part of the team who presented to the PCC the importance of children being able to receive communion before Confirmation, whilst saving the sacrament of Confirmation for when they were old enough to properly engage in it. In 2016, we offered Communion before Confirmation for the first time and it proved very successful, we had a cohort of 10 children and one of the parents decided to join us on the course and was confirmed shortly afterwards. Interestingly, in following years we saw interest in confirmation increase and not decrease as a result. Numbers of children increased during our time in Geddington from around 13% to around 23% by the time we left in January this year.

I am so looking forward to helping lead our children to growth in the faith. Please pray for our Children’s ministry over these coming years.

Love and prayers,

Sarah Parker-McGee