Summer has gone (well it never really came actually)…Autumn here we are., and Welcome to our third issue of Connected At A Glance where the spotlight is now on our own Stephanie Neilands (as was Glenn) and her work with the Girls Brigade.
Q. Tell us about your roll in Mossley Methodist GB presently?
My role within the Company is Acting Captain and is a role I have had for about seven years now. We currently have about 25 girls in the Tines and Explorer Section and about 15 in the Company Section. I have 3 leaders in the Company, Lynn, Catherine and Carol. G.B. could not function without these leaders who faithfully come each week, but really we are stretched thin and greatly need additional help, so if your over 18 and free Tuesday nights please get in touch.
Q.Tell us your story growing up in Mossley Methodist, and the journey that helped you choose your vocation.
To me, Mossley Methodist will always be the place I call home, the place I learnt most of what it means to be a follower of Christ, from everyday normal people who have struggles and questions, but who remained and remain to this day, people who strive to follow Christ. Growing up through Sunday school, which back then used to be the hour before church, and participating from a young age in church services. Then as a teenager I attended Youth Fellowship, where it was ok to be yourself. I spent a year in Mossley Outreach Ministries as a youth intern. I have to say that all these groups moulded and shaped me, allowing me to explore Christianity and what God had, and still has, in store for my life.
So where am I now? Currently I work in two very different ministry posts within two separate churches. The first being Ballynafeigh Methodist Church, where I have been a pastoral assistant for the past two years, now entering my third. Being a member of Mossley Methodist has definitely helped me in understanding the importance of those who are of a mature age within our churches, for the wisdom they hold and the battles they have fought for the future of the church. Being able to visit those people who have built up Ballynafeigh, hear their stories and to be able to support and journey alongside them is an absolute pleasure.
My second post is within Sydenham Methodist Church as Family & Children’s Worker. This post is very different to the first, mainly as I spend most of my time with children, being involved in schools work, taping into the church organisations like Messy Church, Mums & Tots and kids clubs, alongside trying to support church families.
Mossley Methodist has definitely helped me in preparation for these to post, as it gave me so many opportunities to work along side people of all ages. I am very grateful for all Mossley Methodist prepared me for.
Q. Recently you celebrated your 1st Wedding Anniversary (which can be seen posted in the NEWS SECTION). Looking back over that year how on earth do you juggle your different jobs and married life along with church commitments?
Life is definitely busy, but thankful I have a husband who also works for the church, as a Youth Worker, and therefore understands just how busy life can become from week to week! For the first year of marriage having and being able to support each other has been and continues to be really important.
Q. Back to your roll in GB, explain the aims and what it means to you?
I have been in the Girls Brigade for about 22 years now, so I am a G.B. girl through and through! For me, the GB is definitely an organisation that can support all girls through every stage of life. The Girls Brigade accepts and values girls for who they are with the aim to make them feel loved and supported. It also provides a safe space to learn about Christ and how to follow Him in everyday normal life.
The Company plays an important role in the community as parents feel secure in leaving their girls with us each week. They are sure in the knowledge that their child is loved and being taught values and important skills that will help them throughout life.
Q. As your ‘girls’ grow up into young ladies and move on, how does that make you feel?
Being a leader of the girls brigade definitely brings a range of mixed emotions. Each girl that comes through our doors every week is different and has something unique, which they bring into the Company. Seeing them grow from week to week, and year to year is a pleasure and creates many happy memories and stories.
However life can get extremely busy for children and young people and sometimes we have those who leave or cannot commit long term to the girls brigade. This can leave you feeling sad, but hopeful, that in the years they have spent with us, they have learnt some thing’s that will help them in life or simply that they go knowing that they were valued and loved and always will be.
When a girl completes 18 years of the Girls Brigade it brings a sense of achievement and pride for both them and us as leaders, but it also brings sadness as most girls move on to university and move away from home, so when they finish the girls brigade it’s an end to a big chapter of their life, not just an end to a life within the Company. Each girl who has left and gone on to the next part of their journey is greatly missed and will always have a place if they ever want it within the Company.
Q. Is there anything you would like to say to encourage girls reading this to come along to GB? Or if there is any encouragement you can give to someone who is thinking they would like to help out?
Mossley Methodist Girls Brigade is a place where girls or all ages and background are welcome. Our aim is to simply make all girls feel valued and loved and create a safe space where they can be themselves and have fun. So if you have or know a girl aged between 3-18 they would be more than welcome to join us each week.
Over the past few years, due to other commitments, we have lost a few leaders, …unfortunately they have never been replaced. You can understand that some weeks it becomes difficult to juggle so many younger children. The result is that there is a desperate need for people to volunteer their valuable time. We are very blessed in faithfulness of the few leaders we have, and the girls really love each of them, but for Girls Brigade to run smoothly each week, we do need more help for this we would be incredibly grateful
If you are unable to help practically, then you can definitely play a part in prayer for the Company: pray for every girl that is in our care each week, for continued safety and a reassurance that they are in an environment in which they feel valued and loved. But most of all pray that it is a place where they see God’s love and the plan He has for each or their lives.
Each week brings its blessings in seeing children become more confident in the little or big person they have been created to be. To hear the laughter and see the smiles of the girls enjoying all the things they do each week, for me is seeing God’s Kingdom being built here on earth. I would pray you get the opportunity to see that too.
Thank you Stephanie for giving up your time to answer my questions. If anyone reading this feels they want to join or help out please contact us. FURTHER DETAILS on what to expect every Tuesday night are listed below:
Mossley Methodist Girls Brigade meet every Tuesday evening from 6.30pm to 9pm and is for all girls aged between 3-18 years. The girls are split into two main sessions, Tinies and Explorers, and the Company Sections that consist of Juniors, Seniors and Brigaders. The Tines and Explorers meet from 6.30pm to 7.30pm and are aged between 3-8, each week they play games, sing songs and have a story and craft time.
The Junior Section meets from 6.30 to 8.15pm for those in P5-P7, each week the girls play games, complete a scripture course, skip, bake, arts and crafts with a few other exciting things added in.
The Seniors and Brigaders meet from 7.30pm to 9pm for those 1st year and up, each week the Seniors and Brigaders complete a scripture course, bake, dance, play sports, get crafty and most of all have lots of laughs.
The aim of the Girls Brigade is to give all girls a safe and loving environment where they feel valued, nurtured and prepared for life, It also aims to allow all girls the opportunity to learn more about Christianity and help girls to become followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, and through self-control, reverence and a sense of responsibility, to find true enrichment of life.
The motto of the Girls Brigade is to ‘Seek, Serve and Follow Christ’
This is the second of our summer issue of Connected At A Glance where the spotlight is now turned towards Alison Todd and her work with the Mother and Toddlers Group that meet in our church halls every week.
Read on to get an insight into one of Alison’s many rolls in our church family, as she replies to some questions I put to her:
Q: Alison, can you briefly some up the Mothers and Toddlers group that meets here at our church in Mossley?
Being a mother can be a lonely and isolated role where there is little time or opportunity to meet with other adults. It was partly with this in mind that we started a mothers and toddlers group in the Church.
We meet every Wednesday morning at 10:00am except for those Wednesday’s that correspond with school holidays. Mums, Dads, Grannies and Childminders are all welcome to drop in for a cup of coffee and a chat while the children can have fun with the toys and various activities.
We have around 16 – 20 adults and 20 – 28 children. It is our aim to provide a welcoming environment where local people can meet others from the community as well as members and friends of the Church. There are a variety of toys to play with and a little sing song is included in the programme.
Anyone interested would be most welcome and we look forward to seeing new faces throughout the year.
Q: How long has the group been running?
The group has been running for over 30 years. I began going to the group as a young mum myself and that was 27 years ago. There were two ladies who took the group before me.
Q: How did you get to take over the Toddler Group?
I guess it started with me attending the group as a young mum with my children. Through watching and participating in the routine and structure of the group over the years that when the lady before me couldn’t do it anymore she asked if i would take over rather than it close…and here we are approx. 25 years later!!!!
Q: Do you have any idea of the number of infants that have went through the group?
It’s difficult to say but i reckon we must be near 60-80 children over the years.
Q: Have you seen or experienced any lasting relationships?
Yes most definitely! I myself through the group all those years ago made great friends and I’m very glad to say that these ladies have become my closest friends today. Actually one of these ladies, Christine also runs Toddlers with me. Also i have seen many friendships grow through our mums and children and they go on to socialise outside of the group and for many years ahead.
Q: Does Toddlers give opportunities to share?
Yes! We all listen to each other and give advice were we can. For those that are new to the area, its a great place to gain local knowledge of other groups, schools, libraries, leisure centres, doctors etc.
Q: How does it feel greeting new faces and saying goodbye to the old?
We love to see new faces coming to the group, its what we are there for. It encourages us and reminds us that there is a need for the group. Saying goodbye has mixed emotions, as yes we are sad that the child is leaving but yet we know that they are now ready for the next step in their life, and we hope that somehow we have made that move a little easier for them by gently building their social skills and confidence. However it is wonderful when we get a wee visit from a passed child…this happens allot!
Q: What keeps you going week in week out, opening up a cold church on wet winter mornings?
That’s very easy to answer. Seeing the children toddle in, unzipping coats ready for action and the mums’ appreciation of somewhere to go to get a break from the house.
Q: What are the benefits of a Toddler Group?
Adults get a bit of me time, they get to share experiences and a good laugh! The children get to learn structure, routine, sharing, freedom to let off steam all in the security of their mum/guardian. Friendships are developed and you get a lovely cuppa!!!
Q: What would you like to say to anyone thinking of coming along?
Please come! I know how hard it can be to step out on your own, i was that person 27years ago. I can assure you that you will be met with kindness and you will be made very welcome. We have had quite a few new members towards the end of the summer and they said they would be definitely back in September. Everyone is very welcome we have mums, dads, grannies, aunties, childminders and we had one granddad! Please come along and just give it a go, we would love to meet you.
I think it is safe to say that we are very proud of the work Alison and her team do for our community in this way. I am sure they would all really appreciate our continued prayers. If you would like any further details or like to get involved please get in touch with us.
Our Church Calendar has come to an end for another year and all our volunteers and leaders get to recharge over the summer months. This can be a time for all of us as a church family to reflect and be challenged, possibly in attending something else outside of Sunday worship, maybe bravely asking a neighbour or friend along, possibly taking the opportunity in helping out by giving your time or resources and indeed finally, and most importantly, choosing to pray and encourage our Groups and Leaders as they move on refreshed and inspired into September schedules.
I hope over the summer months to approach some Leaders and individuals that attend the Groups and Clubs that are run through our church and ask them to reflect on the past year, sharing with us little snippets of enlightenment or ‘God moments’, along with any achievements or new ground gained. (they don’t know this yet, they will love me 😉
At A Glance: ISSUE 01
To get the ball rolling I spoke to Hettie Heffern. Read below as she reflects on the continued mission work of the Craft Club, its many achievements, AND diversity throughout the year.
“We really enjoy our Friday mornings and a warm welcome would be extended to anyone who would like to join us (which includes any creative Men out there). This year we have attendance from three of the original members along with a further two from the Church and two from Mothers & Toddlers. Apart from a creative interest (skill is not a necessity, as every days a learning day), the ONLY real qualifications required to attend would be enjoying a bit of crack over a cuppa and biscuit. WE WILL HAPPILY TEACH YOU TO KNIT OR CROCHET IF YOU WANT TO LEARN.
Over the past few years we have made burial clothes for stillborn babies, glove puppets to help councillors talk to abused children, blankets for elderly people in local nursing homes, jumpers for babies in Uganda, baby cloths for the Royal Victoria Hospital maternity unit, hats and scarves for homeless people and have come full circle again making tiny burial clothes.
In September we will be starting a NEW PROJECT: Knitting ‘Sensory Bands’ for Dementia sufferers, colourful muff-like bands with the addition of ribbons, buttons etc sewn into them to place their hands inside and ‘twiddle’, as distraction from pulling at clothing and drips… but generally just to occupy their hands. One of our members works in a nursing home and put the idea to an Occupational Therapist there who thought it a ‘great idea’.”
Hettie went on to suggest that not everyone can attend Friday morning, however if there was someone reading this who has an interest in supporting the Craft Club mission work through the use of their skills and in their own time, they would be very glad to provide them with a pattern and wool. ALSO Members buy all the wool themselves so if anyone would like to donate a ball or two of wool in this also they would be very grateful …just think, a little child or homeless person out there will benefit with an added warmth or comfort because of YOU!
Click here to view the gallery on Lou’s last day with us at Mossley.
Looking forward to hearing Lou Monroe and her last service in Mossley this morning. Far reaching has been her devotion within our church family, she has shown a dedication to the Lords kingdom that is a reflection of His Grace and in so, a challenge to us.
Many blessings as you take up your new ministry position in Newcastle, you will always be welcome and a valued extended member of our church family.