Experience Easter – Cirencester – 2 April 2019

The “Experience Journey” resources have been available for several years and have been used by many churches and schools as an exciting opportunity to help children feel the impact of the Easter message on their lives. As I worked with smaller rural schools, I was made aware that it can be difficult for some schools to find sufficient adults to lead events such as Experience Easter and so I began to plan with members of my own church to see how we could host and organise an event in Cirencester. We are very fortunate to have a new building at Cirencester Baptist Church that is used by many different community organisations and so with permission to use it as a venue, I invited adults from several churches in the town to a planning meeting.  The Cirencester Churches Together organisation were very supportive and there was soon a list of forty volunteer adults from four different churches.  The adults placed themselves into teams to resource and organise each of the six stations.  Others offered to run the café and a third set of adults offered activities and crafts in the Coxwell Room. On Monday 1st April we met to set up the main event.  People brought plants from their gardens, pebbles, cut out words, lights etc to set up each station. The activities room was led by Naomi, the children’s minster for CBC and we were ready to welcome the children and staff on the next day. 175 children attended through the day from five different schools and accompanied by 15 adults. Matt, our senior Pastor told groups the Easter story on arrival and then the children went around the stations and the activities.  The café was used throughout the day for drinks, cakes and biscuits as well as packed lunches.  Each station was run by four adults so that they could take breaks as the event was running continuously for six hours. Not all children want to colour, so the activities included building Lego models about the Easter story, making structures out of spaghetti and marshmallows to hold an egg, or holding a mini egg in your mouth as you talk to God.  Each child had craft to take home with them as well as the gift of an egg.

 Was it worth it? Children were invited to write their hopes and dreams on a pebble as part of the Palm Sunday story, in the Garden of Gethsemane they were invited to make plasticine models depicting a time when they were afraid, at the Last Supper they were invited to share with bread and grapes. At the crucifixion they were asked to share their sorrows and the prayer requests included; stop people cutting down trees, help me not to be afraid of bullies, and I am sad that in a few weeks my Dad will die.  At the resurrection their comments were written and taken back to school but as they left and were wished a happy Easter with the gift of an egg, one boy said, thank you for taking me on such a fantastic journey.

The volunteers left tired but full of joy.  One said, see you next year! Another said it had been an amazing day in which to be involved and quite emotional at the end. A visiting school adult said how wonderful to see so many adults living their faith through this event.