Parishes, schools and agencies

Children's ministry flourishing in Merri Creek

May 23 2016
Merri Creek Anglican’s children’s ministry has been boosted by a grant.

In Melbourne’s inner north, more than 40 per cent of people have no religion, according to Census data. The Australian national average is closer to 20 per cent. In this deeply secular environment, Merri Creek Anglican Church is working to cultivate an open and charitable dialogue about Jesus – and inspire and nurture the children it hopes may one day lead the urban church in Melbourne.

Merri Creek Anglican is a church plant of St Hilary’s Kew and North Balwyn. Formed in December 2013, it meets at Clifton Hill Primary School. In its first year, its children’s program was run by hardworking volunteers. At the one year mark, Beck Miller was appointed as Children’s Minister with the help of a grant from KidsPlus+. The children’s program runs in the school library and on an average Sunday morning might have 25 to 30 children.

“One of the values of our church is joy – we really want to be a joyful church – and the kids really help with that,” said Beck Miller. “The great thing working with kids is you have to be constantly working out how to explain theological ideas and stories from a long time ago in a way that’s clear and accessible. For the kids it’s all new, and when they hear these things for the first time, to see that excitement, that’s a wonderful thing.”

Around four new families have started coming along to the church this year. Most of the time, Beck says, they are people who’ve been part of a church in the past and want to find one more locally that provides for families.

“That’s been a huge thing for the church, to be able to provide that ministry to those families,” she said.  “It’s something that’s fun, but also solid, and every week we’re learning from the Bible.”

The church also has contact with families in the local area through its playgroups in Northcote and North Fitzroy. It hopes to set up a third playgroup next year.

Beck said that the children’s program aims to mirror the educational models used in schools in the inner north, which are for the most part play and enquiry based. For younger children, the program draws on the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood, which has an emphasis on nature and on children being inspired and self-directed in their learning.

KidsPlus+/GFS Liaison Officer Helen Petering said that the KidsPlus+ Children’s Ministry Support Package had enabled the church to realise a ministry goal from its Mission Action Plan earlier than it had thought possible: employing an extra staff member to grow its children’s ministry.

“Beck Miller has been working hard to share the Gospel with families at Merri Creek Anglican and grow them as disciples of Jesus,” she said.

“It has been a joy and privilege to see and hear a few ways of God at work at Merri Creek Anglican, particularly amongst the children and their families.”

KidsPlus+ currently supports seven Children’s Ministry Workers in churches across the Diocese of Melbourne. Applications are now open for packages to be released in 2017. For more information, see www.kidsplusgfs.org and contact Helen Petering, KidsPlus+/GFS Liaison Officer, on 0427 673 256, kidsplusgfs@gmail.com