I CAN heartily recommend that if any parents find themselves, on the second Sunday of any month between 4pm and 5.15pm, in charge of young children who are bored or watching too much telly, they can do no better than take them to St Helen’s Church in Sandal.
I took my three grand-daughters to church once before, but as they were bored and a distraction to others, despite the very tolerant congregation, I decided not to take them again. But yesterday I took them to Families at 4, and what a surprise!
The church interior has changed completely since I was married there in 1970. The former high altar is now sectioned off with round tables and kitchen, where everyone shared food. The joyful atmosphere put all the children in high spirits.
The service, which I’d been dreading, started at 4.30. Bored? No chance. There was an upbeat band with piano, guitars and drums, and two singers. No dreary hymn sheets: the words to the great new songs were on 2 colour dvd screens with imaginative artwork. Little ones were catered for with millions of felt-tip pens and pages to colour in.
The story of Moses was told with the aid of a comedian and puppeteer, who was absolutely hilarious, and the ten commandments related in ways that children could relate to in their own lives. And not a whiff of fire and brimstone in sight.
Indoctrination? No way. In fact, it struck me that in our highly commendable efforts to accommodate the cultures and religious heritage of our immigrant communities, we are making the serious mistake of forgetting our own. Use it or lose it.
The children at these events don’t have bigoted attitudes thrown at them: they are shown the basic truths of life that all young children innately know. All that we do, by allowing them awareness of our religious heritage, is to keep the flame alive. So why not do that, instead of indoctrinating them with materialism, cynicism, bullying and one-upmanship?