[Anglican Communion News Service] A wave of prayer for parent and toddler groups begins June 1 in churches across the United Kingdom with prayer marathons and special services planned in the next few days.
With more than 20,000 churches estimated to be running toddler groups in the U.K., the organizers say it is important for groups, leaders, children and their families to be supported in prayer. Early Years Adviser for the Diocese of Chelmsford Jo Gilks said, “Some of our churches have fantastic toddler groups and some people don’t even know anything about them. It’s important for the church to support them and pray for them because it can be lonely and sometimes they don’t feel they are part of the church mission. But they are a fantastic mission opportunity for our churches.”
The National Month of Prayer for toddler group ministries runs throughout June and has been coordinated by Make them Count – National Strategy for Christian Toddler Groups. Core Group member, Joanna Gordon said, “On average a U.K. child has just 1,277 days between birth and starting nursery education. Together, we want to ‘make them count’ for the children, for their families and for the toddler groups that they attend.”
She said the aim is to encourage people to pray and to get their churches praying along the theme of “Living life to the full” based on John 10:10 ‘I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.’
One of the most beneficial supports for parents of young children is for them to get together with others who are going through similar experiences. Some of their best and life long friends are made at local toddler groups, children made friends there and so find moving on to the next stage easier and parents get to know Christians from the local community.
A range of events will run this month in support of the focus including services led by toddler group teams, prayer activity bags being given out at groups and prayer marathons linking up different groups.
Gordon said, “At St Mark’s Church, Kensal Rise in London, I’ve heard they are giving over the whole service to toddlers this Sunday from the songs, to puppets during the sermon. We recognise that for many, the local toddler group is a ‘lifeline’- a place of a genuine warm welcome. It can simply be something that people do on a given day at a given time but for most of us, it is so much more. We would love to celebrate the ‘life giving’ potential of our groups because we believe they are hidden gems and often overlooked.”