Come into our halls on a Tuesday morning between 10am and 12noon and there is a real buzz about the place. We have so much to thank God for as each week we have a dedicated bunch of helpers who come along to serve all those from the surrounding area who attend.
For me one of the biggest changes lately is the fact that there are now more dads coming along. Perhaps they feel more comfortable as our leader’s husband comes along and, being a retired teacher, he knows quite a few of them. He is often the first point of contact as folk arrive and are directed to where to park their buggy. It is great that the other men and children have a male role model and also have someone to chat to. Another husband, George, comes and together they help to put away the toys and equipment. It is a wonderful thing to have men as part of the team, and I would encourage other groups to encourage men/dads to take a tur at getting involved, and not just leave it up to the women in our congregations – this also applies to the crèche rota! The toddler group is not a place for mums only and there can be a real mix of people coming along, including single parents, grandparents and childminders, all caring for little ones.
The children have a good variety of activities to enjoy, including Play-Doh, craft, sand play, table top activities, floor play and dressing up. However, the favourite activity is toast time for both children and adults. Throughout the year we also plan special events at Christmas and Easter, and a ‘teddy bears picnic’, when we enjoy special treats to eat. Finally, before everyone leaves for home, there is story time or singing, and usually both.
Tots was originally started in 1996 by mums from this congregation who wanted to provide a safe place for children and their carers to spend time together enjoying each other’s company, while providing a safe place for them to socialise together.
Many things have changed since the 1990s, however our core aims have not, as we continue to:
- Provide a safe, happy environment for all children to play, learn and socialize;
- Provide a welcoming place for all parents and carers to make friends and feel supported;
- Make a positive contribution to the community of Carrickfergus.
Underpinning our aims is our belief that people matter and are valuable to God. We aim to encourage and meet the needs of the whole person and community as we seek to develop relationships.
- For all those who come along, especially those whose first language is not English, that they would each experience the love of Jesus;
- For the volunteers who faithfully serve each week, that they will have energy and strength;
- For relationships to be developed and built up;
- That God’s name will be honoured in all we do.
This blog first appeared in the Mission Connect section of April’s issue of the Presbyterian Herald. You can read more about Lynda McFaul here.