Starting Rite course for babies at Christ Church Bedford
1st September 2019
Becky Guynn, Children’s Minister, Christ Church Bedford writes about the launch of ‘Starting Rite’, a course for babies and their carers
“We ran the Starting Rite course as part of the re-launch of our under 1’s group, Little Fishes (we had to take a break from running the group during the building works of our new centre). The idea was we wanted to turn what had been a general get-together group into something more Christ focused and thought having a set course to follow would help us to embed that from the beginning.
We had between 8 and 11 babies and their parents/carers come along for each of the session, at that time all the babies were very young with the oldest being only 8 weeks old. During the first session, parents are invited to complete a post-it note with their expectations of the course, some of the replies I had were: ‘I want help to share my faith everyday with my baby’, ‘I want to introduce my baby to Christianity’, ‘to be able to talk about faith in ‘babyspeak’’.
All the Starting Rite session material is really well thought through and the theology behind the activities, such playing a game of peek-a-boo and how it helps understand how God is there even if we can’t see him was surprisingly simple but very insightful and in the Splash! Session, where we explored baptism, the reflective questions about what path we want our children to follow drew some really deep replies and ideas. The structure of the sessions gives plenty of time for relationship building too, leaving lots of space just to be able to chat together as well taking part in the activities.
At the end of the course parents are invited to complete a feedback form, some of the comments I received were: ‘This course actually exceeded my expectations. It has been a lovely experience’, ‘It was a lovely gentle introduction to faith for babies’, ‘There was a great mix of activities and social time, good material and resources’, ‘It was very engaging, even the youngest babies were transfixed’.
As we were running the course as part of our under 1’s group we still met up weekly after the course had officially finished and as the families had enjoyed the course so much we continued to incorporate parts of the course, such as the songs and Christian themed sensory play.
It has now been around 6 months since we run the course and following requests from the parents that took part in the first one and from those first parents plugging it to our new parents, we are now about to run it again. In the time since run the course the first time around those babies have obviously grown up and are a lot more mobile with some crawling and cruising so it will be interesting to see how it runs now they are able to actively participate. We have also had some new younger babies start too so it will be interesting to see if it works with a mixture of ages of under 1’s.
I would thoroughly recommend running this course, as a course leader I found the material easy to follow and easy to facilitate. I loved the fact there was plenty of opportunity to build relationships and for conversation to flow, I found it amazing how deep some of the conversations were that we were having in a ‘baby group’. Since we have run the course 3 of the original families have had their babies baptized, one will be baptised in the summer and a further two are exploring baptism further.
Becky Guynn, Children’s Minister, Christ Church Bedford
Margaret Pritchard Houston, Children’s Mission Enabler adds “The Diocese has a full set of Starting Rite resources for you to borrow – this includes all the materials to run all the sessions, as well as the book and the handouts. You may need to provide a few items of furniture for the room, e.g. cushions, but apart from that, we have everything you’ll need. Do contact Julie if you’d like to borrow the materials for a course of your own”.