by Elspeth Kernebone
5 January 2023
A Geelong church has been encouraged in its renewed efforts to reach its community after a successful visit from two primary schools for a creative telling of the Christmas story.
More than 120 children from Bostock House and Geelong Baptist College participated in the imaginative, and interactive, Christmas story at All Saints’ Newtown.
It was a change of pace for the parish, which has few children attending and does not run a children’s program.
The event’s success has encouraged All Saints’ renewed efforts to draw more people into the church.
Vicar Father Stephen Pollard said Experience Christmas had given the church confidence to run a similar program again, this time for Easter.
Father Pollard said the children and staff thoroughly enjoyed the creative telling of the Christmas story, while the parish found it a rewarding and enriching experience.
The visit was such a success, he plans to invite a broader range of schools to future events.
The visiting children split into groups after being welcomed to the church, and were then taken through a series of interactive stations telling the Christmas story, guided by a church member.
Father Pollard said the aim was to play on the children’s imaginations to bring the story to life and help them visualise it. For instance, at one point the children sat around a pretend fire made up of flickering candles, with a hidden phone playing a flickering fire sound.
“Anything like that the kids just love,” Father Pollard said.
Father Pollard said the initiative was also to challenge the parish to try something new, as members went through a series of meetings about growing health churches and reaching out.
He said the event allowed the church to dip its toes into what it would be like to work with children again, as it sought to integrate more deeply into the community and make the parish more visible.
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Father Pollard said the congregation was about 80 strong, but predominantly elderly – with a large group of people older than 70, a smattering of people in their 50s and 60s, and only a small number of children.
“The dream for the church, the vision for the church at the month, is making ourselves more visible, making ourselves known,” Father Pollard said.