I hope I didn’t look too horrified when my training incumbent mentioned on day one of my training post that I would be taking school assembly later that week.
I hadn’t done any schools work since my early 20’s – about three decades ago – and felt decidedly inadequate for the task. However, I found, as I have seen throughout my life as a Christian, that God uses whoever is available to do his work. Within a few weeks, taking assemblies became one of my weekly highlights.
Shortly after, I realised that there were a small number of children in Year Six at our church who had outgrown Sunday School, who we would almost certainly lose if we didn’t start doing something for their age-group. It didn’t seem right that the children would be making the huge leap from primary school to secondary school without spiritual support along the way. As I looked around the church to see who we could task with this vital role, I ended up back where I started – the 50-something curate.
A straw-poll revealed that the only time the teens were all around at the same time was in fact Sunday morning, so the first problem was that we didn’t have anywhere to host them, as the hall was being used for Sunday School. We thought about the bell-tower (to the horror of the bell-ringers!) but there was another available space: a small junk room (replete with junk) above the main hall. It was quickly cleared out, renamed ‘The Den’, painted and given to our teenagers to use as their own.