Military families become Messy!
'My own walk with God is a continuing adventure'
Jane Leadbetter works for BRF as part of our Messy Church team, offering training and support to Messy Church leaders and developing a network of Regional Coordinator volunteers across the world. Our Regional Coordinators support registered Messy Churches in their local area. Recently, this network has included a growing number of Coordinators who specialise in supporting specific focuses of Messy Church life, such as social action, special educational needs and older people.
Among these is Nicola Slater, who coordinates a Messy Church at RAF Lossiemouth in Moray, Scotland. Nicola is now the Messy Forces Coordinator and she networks and supports the growing number of Messy Churches on Army, Navy and RAF Forces bases. Here is Nicola’s story.
Title quote from Nicky Slater
'Who knows what seeds may be being planted?'
RAF Lossiemouth is a busy fast jet station as well as being home to 51 Sqn RAF Regiment. We were posted here in 2006, shortly after I left the RAF (as a Supply Officer) and my husband started flying the Tornados. Not long after we arrived, our children, now 7 and 9, were born. We started to attend the Sunday service at St Aidan’s regularly in 2009.
However, despite being a military church, few military families actually attended; the small congregation was made up mainly of members from the local community with links to the base.
Fast forward a few years and the seeds of Messy Church at St Aidan’s were planted in typically messy fashion! One of the chaplains (known in the military as ‘Padres’) mentioned this thing called Messy Church and asked if anyone would like to get on board helping to set one up. Now crafts really aren’t my thing, and I was busy with two young children and commitments elsewhere, so I kept very quiet. Plus I’d never heard of Messy Church before, and so that was that for the next twelve months or so, until we travelled south to visit my parents in Devon. Mum was particularly pleased with the timing of our visit: 'Oh, great. We’ve just started up a Messy Church. You can help out.' And so we experienced our first Messy Church. It was wonderful to see so many children and adults engaging in this form of church which was accessible and fun. We enjoyed helping (kitchen rather than crafts!) and our children loved participating.
We’re often welcoming new faces. And of course the very nature of military life and frequent postings mean that our congregation changes rapidly.
Some of our families also come along to the Sunday family service, while others choose to stay with all things messy. Possibly some also come just to save cooking tea on a school night! But that’s what we’re there for - to provide no-strings hospitality and a warm friendly welcome to all, no matter what their reasons for coming. Who knows what seeds may be being planted for the future?
How can you get involved?
Find out more about Messy Church and how you can set up your own.
Pray for the families who attend a Messy Church on a military base. Give thanks that they are able to hear God’s word through Messy Church and are supported by Nicola.