In September 2010 CGMC ran its 4th national conference for church children’s workers, this time at Chester University. Following on from the success of previous conferences an ecumenical invitation went out to all those who work with children through the churches to set aside the first weekend at the beginning of a new school year. It was advertised as an opportunity both to attend a choice of seminars on key areas of training for their work as well as to meet up with others who share the same passions and the pressures of this particular ministry.
There were 80 of us in the end booked in for some or all of the weekend. We came from Wales, Northern Ireland and the four corners of England and represented a wide range of experience and denominational background. For some this was a first taste of a training event, as they were literally just starting off on the road of children’s ministry, while others there were ‘old hands’, as it were, but of course always open to learn new things!
For this reason there were three strands to the conference with a choice of seminars at each of the 6 session slots. Delegates could choose to cover the six modules of Core Skills for Children’s Work – published in 2006 by Barnabas; or explore the six new sessions in More Core Skills for Children’s Work – published in 2010 and launched on the Friday of this event; or unpack the whole area of advocacy for children and children’s participation in the life of the church – in other words, how do we allow their voice to be heard? Alternatively delegates could pick and choose between these three strands – and many did! It was a rich offer and experienced seminar leaders from a wide range of organisations led these workshops brilliantly, for which CGMC is very grateful.
The Friday evening launch of More Core Skills was interesting (!) – because, owing to a courier error, the set of new books never arrived in time! However the unveiling of the one book we did have was carried off with humour and in fact everyone was very understanding – and just enjoyed the free wine and snacks provided! They were rewarded for their patience in the end, when on the Sunday – thanks to a rescue mission by BRF – we were able to give out some promised copies to about 40 people. This came as an unexpected surprise at the end of a great weekend.
Everyone remarked on what a good atmosphere there was on the campus during our three days together. The food was excellent, the entertainment was a hit, the welcome and care from the CGMC Executive and organising group was warm, the venue was comfortable and the shops of the picturesque City of Chester were only a 15 minute walk away! Oh, and the seminars were well received too! This weekend was intended as a time of inspiration, encouragement and equipping for the new academic year ahead and from the spoken feedback we have already received we seem to have hit the target with all that!
The CGMC organising team for this conference was busy almost the whole time, making sure seminar speakers had all they needed and also helping to deal with delegates’ questions about accommodation, meals and what was where and when etc! My personal highlight of the weekend was the session on the global voice of children led by Tim Lee, who has worked in the Philippines with ‘street children. Among other things he introduced us to a fascinating piece of art work, in which a local artist had painted ‘The Last Supper’ with children as the disciples and whose true stories he had researched. The picture allowed these children’s voices to be heard in a remarkable way.
We have asked for further feedback from delegates and of course we now have to get the remaining books out to the 30 or so who missed out on the Sunday. No doubt some things could have been improved, but all in all the weekend was very well received and for many this was a memorable start to the new year. CGMC wishes to thank all who worked so hard behind the scenes and up front to make this conference a success