“The world is loud, this was quiet"
In April, two churches in Ladywood, St John’s and St Peter’s Church and St Luke’s Church Great Colmore Street, ran their first prayer spaces in their local church schools.
The two schools, together form the All Saints MAT and so the schools and churches worked together to plan and prepare for their weeks of prayer. The schools are richly diverse in terms of culture and faith, reflecting the communities they serve, so it was a privilege to be warmly welcomed in by the staff and pupils.
The prayer space was visited by small groups of children throughout the week and allowed time for quiet reflection and the opportunity to be creative in prayer. The children enjoyed using the space; many reflected on the sense of calm and peace in a busy week, one commented, “The world is loud, this was quiet.” Over the course of the week the prayer spaces were visited by almost 500 children between the ages of 4 and 11, and it was wonderful to watch the ways that they engaged with the space and each other.
In the prayer spaces we used activities such as ‘Sorry Strings’, ‘Pipe Cleaner People’ and ‘Big Questions’ to help the children reflect on aspects of prayer. There were also opportunities for the children to share their ideas of prayer
Jake Bateson, lead teacher for RE in both schools commented, “The children loved having the prayer space in school. Every child I spoke to was positive and said how calm and relaxed the room made them feel. The children felt like it was a safe place, and spoke about a peace that being inside the prayer spaces gave them. One child said it made them feel confident that they could bring anything to God, and another said how it helped them to remember that they could pray in any way, anywhere.”
The prayer spaces were led in the schools by Rev Amanda Featherstone from St Luke’s and Rev. Ivor Lewis from St John’s and St Peter’s, along with a number of willing volunteers from both churches. There were many positive aspects of running the prayer space, Ivor reflected that the prayer space gave them an “opportunity to build on the relationships in the school by being more 'visible' and 'present' and to have 'spiritual' conversations with staff members as well as children” and they were “amazed at the depth of thinking on spiritual things that the children are doing.”
Running a week long Prayer Space can be an intense and tiring experience but both church leaders drew strength from the knowledge that they were running their spaces together and that many were praying for them and their volunteer hosts.
Mike Down, Schools Project Manager for Church of England – Birmingham.