Church services are getting a little “messy” in Wellington.
Pastor Paul Wilson and First United Methodist Church introduced “messy church” services this past September. They aim to combine children and adult oriented messaging into one service complete with arts and crafts, a hot meal, music, fellowship, and one-on-one discussion.
“It’s started as a way to kind of bring back people who had stopped coming to regular service,” Wilson said. “A member of our church was the first person to tell me about it. It’s intended for people who want to get their hands dirty and interact. It’s a good thing here between generations.”
Messy church services began popping up in 2004 in Cowplain, a village in southern England. Since then, the practice has spread to more than 30 countries including Australia, France, Canada, Romania, and Greece.
The church member who brought the idea to Wilson is Deborah Lansman, who was born and raised in England. She took a trip home this past summer while already formulating plans to start a messy church in Wellington and happened to run into Jane Leadbetter, a friend and author who’s been instrumental in spreading the idea throughout England.
“We collaborated and passed a lot of good ideas back and forth,” Lansman said. “Faith United Methodist in North Canton did their own messy church service last year and some of us went to observe so we had a hands-on feel of what it was all about. Grandparents, parents, and children alike just spend time together.”
“In Liverpool, it’s getting so big they’ve thought of starting a midweek service,” she said. “They have a service meant for single parents and that makes it so much easier for someone who only has their kid certain days of the week.”
Messy church at First UMC is held from 4-6 p.m. on the first Sunday of every month. While no activities are planned for Easter Sunday on April 1, things will pick back up in May and June before a brief summer break in July and August.
Wilson’s eight-year-old grandson, Liam, was in attendance this past Sunday and gave the service a ringing endorsement.
“There’s all this stuff sitting around to do and it’s fun,” he said. “Making arts and crafts is my favorite and this is a place I want to come to again.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.