One of the UK’s largest Messy Churches has been hailed a huge success after 1,800 people attended the Cumbrian event.
Hundreds of families headed to the Rheged Discovery Centre near Penrith for four hours of circus themed fun at the weekend.
The Big Top Circus Party included workshops with animals as well as others in woodwork, street dance, singing and circus skills, all aimed at celebrating people’s individual gifts and talents. Messy Church is a way of being church for families involving fun, creativity, celebration and hospitality and is primarily aimed at people who don’t have connections with any form of church.
Sarah Hulme, the Children, Families and Young People’s Evangelism Enabler for the Reach team which is part of the cross-denominational God for All strategy – oversaw the event.
She said: “This is the second year in a row we’ve held a Messy Church at Rheged. Last year’s was massively popular and so we knew we had a high benchmark to meet. From both the feedback and the footfall we’re confident that we’ve achieved that aim and are thrilled that so many new faces chose to spend their afternoon getting Messy about God in fun and exciting ways.
“Obviously we could not make this work without the help and support of all the team at Rheged. We are so fortunate to have such a willing partner and our thanks go to everyone involved at the visitor centre.”
Overall 1,800 people took part in the Messy Church event with 600 goody bags given away and 700 Messy Cumbria maps which show towns and villages where Messy Churches are regularly held.
Among those at the event were the Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Rev James Newcome, Chair of the Cumbria Methodist District, the Rev Richard Teal, and the Rev Sarah Moore, Area President Cumbria Area of the North Western Synod of the United Reformed Church.
Bishop James said: “It’s been wonderful to come along to such a wonderful ecumenical celebration which again demonstrates the wonderful ways that we’re working across denominations to provide everybody in our county the opportunity to explore more of God and God’s purpose for their lives.
“I’ve been particularly struck by the sheer numbers of people we’ve had through the doors who expressly came to be part of this Messy Church event.