Church Views:

“The Hope Journey- A group of Methodists on the Wirral reach out to children of all backgrounds in a number of schools in the community by providing amazing in-church, experiential learning on a range of themes from The Nativity with views from the animals in the stable to Remembrance and World War II.  Children love it and learn of God’s compassion and love in new and different ways, teaching staff think it is “brilliant”, and the churches involved have found a new lease of life.  Little training is required, just time,energy and a desire to share God's grace!” 
Methodist Connexional Education Commission Report 2012
 
“The opportunities for reflection were poignant and touching and impeccably observed by everyone involved indicating an overwhelming sense of worth and value.  The children I observed participating in this work left with a very strong sense of connection with the church.” 
Ofsted Inspector, Headteacher

“Being part of the Hope Journey team was a very satisfying and enlightening experience. To see the expressions on the children’s faces, and some of the questions asked was a soul searching experience. To be part of a team conveying the love of God to children is both a responsibility and a privilege.” 
Church Steward and church member 

Why my church wanted to get involved. 
About 5 years ago I observed 'Meet the Characters' at Whitby Methodist Church in Ellesmere Port and was enchanted by the way the children engaged with the story.  I was convinced that this was something my church could take part in, but felt it wasn't my 'job' to push it.  From time to time I would mention it at Church Council or the ACM and, although people listened politely, nobody ever wanted to take it further.  Then last year I decided I was going to have one last 'push' and spoke individually to 24 members of our congregation trying to share something of my experience and enthusiasm as an observer.  Following these conversations 17 people attended a meeting with Nicola and Peter, 15 of whom committed themselves to taking part in 'Meet the Characters'.  In December last year 22 members or friends of our congregation were blessed by being present or taking part as we shared something of our Christian faith with thirty 6 and 7 year olds from our local primary school. Last week 16 of us went into the same primary school where we shared the 'Parable of the Good Samaritan' with thirty 4 and 5 year olds.  At the end, in return the children sang a couple of their favourite action songs for us.  What a wonderful morning.  Believe me, the pleasure and privilege of taking part in the Hope Journey far outweighs the cost in terms of time and energy.  Everyone is blessed by the experience, especially the adults!
Wirral Circuit Member

BOXES OF JOY

In October 2012, Woodchurch Methodist Church linked up with Nicola to deliver a new Hope Journey initiative, named ‘Boxes of Joy’ to 30 Year 5 children from Woodchurch C of E Primary School.
‘Boxes ofJoy’ was held at Woodchurch Methodist and was supported by a number of local volunteers and local Churches, the workshops were written by Nicola and the morning was really well led and fronted by Nicola herself.
In addition this initiative was supported by the Chaplain from Woodchurch High School and by several of her Year 10 pupils who came along to work with the Primary School children.
The children responded brilliantly to the sessions and were really engaged with the idea of sending gifts and messages to children in Swaziland in Africa.
Nicola had done a tremendous amount of preparation in planning 6 different workshops for the children, one involved packing the right items into a shoebox, another looked at the reasons why it was important to care about a child living thousands of miles away in a foreign country.
I am full of admiration for the pioneering work Nicola is involved with in linking Churches with Schools and children through the Hope Journey.  Nicola’s enthusiasm for her work and ability to communicate with children of all ages is impressive and there is no doubt that her work is making a real difference in enabling Churches around the Circuit to connect with their local schools and communities.
It is always a pleasure to work with Nicola and our church plans to work with more local schools in the autumn of 2013 to deliver another Hope Journey project.
Nicola’s support of ‘Boxes of Joy’ contributed to the local Churches in Woodchurch managing to send 1,021 gift-filled shoeboxes to children in Swaziland in 2012 and we can only imagine the joy and happiness on the children’s faces as they opened their Christmas shoeboxes, packed and sent with care and love from the Wirral.
 David Smith, Church and Centre Co-ordinator, Woodchurch Methodist Church