Posted by Catherine on 23.04.2012
Thousands of children young people have had the chance to talk and listen to God in these Prayer Spaces, as well as many adults who are part of the school communities. Open afternoons have provided the opportunities for other local schools to visit and for church leaders to come and catch the vision.
Families with no previous church-connection have come along to a special family service the week following a Prayer Space and there has been feedback from children suggesting a return to faith.
One secondary school is considering a permanent Prayer Space open two lunch times a week initially and building in three specific Prayer Space weeks over the course of the academic year to build an awareness of the importance of prayer and reflection in the life of the school. A primary school at the start of this year has decided to run one each term to reflect the importance of prayer as a regular part of school life. We even had the opportunity to help local churches host a Prayer Space in an SEN (Special Educational Needs) school, which was a new challenge but worked really well and the pupils really enjoyed their time in the space.
In one area of Oxfordshire seven Prayer Spaces have taken place in the last year in different schools which have been supported by seven different denominations of churches. Through open afternoons and just the different people who are in education who attend the different churches this has led to more Prayer Spaces happening in surrounding villages. Trusted Christian relationship with schools has been key in this area to the substantial development that has occurred. Connection after connection seems to be taking place. For us, this is a real sign God is on the move!
In the past year God has provided finances for the continuation of the development of this work in Oxfordshire. In addition to this one group of local churches in a town in the county have found funding to build up a basic resource kit for the development in their area. Another town is likely to do this next year too. The Prayer Spaces Oxfordshire team has grown from one to two and we continue to seek God for finances in maintaining this level of team.
Just before Easter in Oxfordshire two Prayer Spaces took place one at St Edburg’s primary in Bicester held in the church next door, their second of the year and one at Grove C of E, their second one too. St Edburgs was organised and run by the Head teacher and two of the teaching assistants in the school, while Grove was run by us and local church volunteers. At Grove we themed the Prayer Space around Easter. Even though the Prayer Space was the second the school had had the responses of awe and wonder were the same.
One of the key moments for me was spending time talking with some junior boys who just weren’t sure what they believed, we had a great discussion about the historical accuracy of there being a man called Jesus. The boys were really into the discussion and by the end of the discussion where thinking more openly about Jesus.
So much of the feedback was positive for example some of the children said;
"I like how it's helping us to remember God and Jesus"
"Thank you for this wonderful opportunity because I'm going to pass this information on"
"I like having adults in here because I can talk to them about my problems"
"I love God because God is a friend"
"I like the way you can relax from the pressure of SATs"
The deputy Head teacher in Bicester said; "Giving children time to reflect gives a profound and moving response. The children loved the opportunity to take time to be still and many would have liked a linger time in the church."
Prayer Spaces Oxfordshire seems to be growing more and more and we continue to seek God’s direction for the future. It is really exciting to see how God is developing this work and impacting whole school communities.