The enthusiasm of the Kirton Open the Book Team Leader and Local Church Pastor, Sheila, is infectious. Now in its 10th year, the team is still passionate about taking the Christian message into schools in villages near Boston. Sheila simply said "I've got a heart for it" and she clearly has.
Sheila said that she feels churches need to acknowledge that they are not going to have Sunday schools as we used to have (she recalled the 100 children who used to attend Sunday School at Zion in the 70s). Those days are long gone but there is such a lot to be gained by going into schools. The Open the Book team visit three schools at Sutterton, Wyberton and Swineshead reaching a total of around 600 children and 25 teachers.
Every Monday morning the team arrives at Sutterton School for a 9am assembly then on the same day meets up over lunch time to plan and rehearse the session for the following week. Finally they arrive at Swineshead School in the afternoon for another session. The session at Wyberton School takes place once a month, also on a Monday. Following the 9am assembly at Sutterton the team travels the 10 minute journey, in costume, ready to set up really quickly for the 9.45am assembly at Wyberton! All the schools are really keen to have the team in to lead the assemblies.
The team is currently made up of five people representing five different denominations. Volunteers each bring different skills to the team so one person is very gifted at the technical aspects and props and another couple are good at craft. Sheila described how the team have built up two wardrobes full of costumes and props which they select from for each new story.
The sessions include an introduction to the story, the dramatised story with leaders and selected children in costume, a conclusion, a quiet moment for reflection, an introduction to the prayer and then a very short concluding prayer. The children are asked to say "Amen" if they would like to make the prayer their own. The story comes from the Lion "Story Teller Bible" and the Bible Society provides a handbook with three years' worth of instruction and prayers. It is such a good way of spreading the message and bringing our faith to the schools.
Recently when the team was delivering their session they had to do so by Zoom from the school hall. Sheila thought that the story was only broadcast to children in the classrooms and it was only when someone shouted out that they were watching at home that Sheila realised, to her surprise, that their session was not only reaching children but parents too as the assembly had been Zoomed into the children's homes as well!
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