Sunday School (before it was renamed)
23rd July 1976
Extracts of Minutes of PCC
The Rector, Canon Hawkins, asked members to give thought to this for the next meeting, as he felt that, now the school had closed, we should continue to keep the village children's religious education up
30th September 1976
It is expected that 6 to 8 children under 7 may attend and these will be brought into morning service.
Quest Club sometime after the Hawkins had left,. and Miss Win Baker the one 'in charge' of the spiritual teaching of the children, having retired as Headmistress of the village school, announced to her two 'helpers' that she would be spending many months whenever she could in Zimbabwe - and they would be taking over. .
This was rather a shock to Christine Wheeler and Avril who were the helpers. Both had toddlers, and when they took on the work because there was no-one else to do it, both became pregnant during their first year of Quest Club! Both babies, when born, gave them bad nights for many months! They managed, just about, to keep their eyes open enough to keep Quest Club going.
A year later, realising that many of the children were over 8, they divided the children into two, the younger children meeting on a Sunday, and the 9yrs onwards meeting on a week-night. By this time, Childrens Church had become Family Service. In 1989, Youth Fellowship (later called Yoyo), started for 14’s onwards.
All the children were encouraged to take part in the Family Service, either by playing their instruments for the hymns, or announcing the hymns, and sometimes doing a little drama. The register for Quest Club, (Infants, Juniors , Seniors and Yoyo) during the late 1980's and into the 1990's showed 5 infants regularly attending; 17 children regularly attending aged 5 - 8; 14 regularly attending among the 9-13's and the older ones numbering 9. Forty five children altogether from the Parish, and their friends who had heard about Quest Club and asked if they could come too!.
The Christmas service for the children was originally called Blessing of the Crib. As the Nativity story was told, the children would bring up the figures to the crib. Canon Hawkins introduced into this service, oranges with candles, which were given to the children as they left the service. When Quest Club started, the childrens’ Christmas service changed slightly. Held on Christmas Eve, adults and children were given candles as they came into the service; the adults having their candles placed in cardboard holders, and the children having their candles in their Christingles. At a certain time during the service, all the candles were lit; the electric lights put out, and the whole Church filled with candlelight as the children sang the first verse of Away in a Manger, with the congregation joining in the last two verses. Then the lights would come back on, and the candles would be blown out for safety reasons!
1. Quips from the children
Avril was trying to get the children to visualize what the cooking facilities were like 2,000 years ago in Palestine. First, they realised from the picture she showed them, that there were no chimneys, so talk was about the need for a fire outdoors. “Now,” Avril said to the 5 yr olds, “what do you think Jesus’ mummy would be doing, sitting outside, by the fire?” There was a long silence while the children looked blankly at her. “Your Mummies are doing it all the time: They’re always doing it,” came her clue. Inspiration came to Clare Whiteside and she shot up her hand. “Sunbathing!” she said!
Another day, they studied more miracles of Jesus – healing the sick, and with sick people in mind, the children made fairy cakes and chocolate truffles. These were taken round to those poor-in-health in the village. However, Clare (5) and Tom Whiteside (4) came back with theirs. The recipient was unable to have them due, as Clare Whiteside told us, “to tummy truffles.”!
The story, one Sunday, was particularly difficult as it was a story within a story. “Now,” the children were admonished at the end of the story, “I hope you will remember this story.” Seven-year-old Timothy Brain clapped his hand to his mouth in dismay. “Oh no!” he wailed, “I’ve forgotten it already.”
2. Quips at Family Services
It was Advent Sunday, and adults and children settled sleepily in their pews as Avril started talking about Jesus’ second coming. Suddenly there was a loud knock on the door, and as it opened, a voice roared out, “Parcel for Quest Club! Parcel for Quest Club!” Heads swivelled round. Eyes popped, for in walked Percy, our Postman who lived at Bidford but had regularly delivered post to our village for years. Not only was he in his uniform, but he also wore the Postman’s cap that had become discarded by the Post Office some years before! A large box, wrapped up well in brown paper, was under his arm. The children gathered excitedly round him, eager to see what was in the box. When at last a cardboard crown was revealed (with the words ‘King,’, ‘Counsellor’, ‘Mighty God’, ‘Prince of Peace’ written on the coloured paper jewellery on the crown) a little voice was heard to say in a disappointed voice, “”It’s not so good as the Christmas Cracker crowns!”
Avril was giving a talk on the two greatest commandments as told by Jesus, and wanted to show the adults and children how these two commandments were imposed indelibly on the minds of the children, by means of a phylactery. She began, “These laws that have just been read to us were known – by heart – by every boy and girl in Jesus’ time.” The words “Jesus’ time”, were the cue for Lawrence to slip over his head a circle of elastic threaded through a black-painted matchbox, with the matchbox lodged just above his eyebrows. Without looking at him, Avril went on, “And do you know how they remembered them? Well – just look at Lawrence and tell me what he has got on his head.” All eyes were turned to Lawrence; then came a quick answer. It was Thomas, their nine year old son. “A bald patch” he shouted triumphantly!
3. Activities at Quest Club
The Infant and Junior Quest Club were faced with the prospect of either dressing up, or having their faces painted. Most chose to have the latter. Five year old Simon Brain studied his black-streaked, red spotted face in the mirror. “Cor!” he said, “Isn't that great – and I had a bath just before coming here.” Six year old Christopher Jennings was thrilled with his black streaked face. He had brought his machine gun to Quest Club that day, and he thought the two combinations just right, and, indeed, the children did look like mercenaries.! However, they were very disappointed to find they were not soldiers after all – just beggars. Those in costume were Kings and Queens and the children were shown how the world treats Royalty and how beggars are treated. They were told how two disciples asked if they could have important places beside Jesus when He became King, and how Jesus told them that, to be great, they must learn to serve.
The older children one evening, sat outdoors and watched Nigel Radbourne's efforts with his sheep. It seemed strange to think that the shepherds Jesus referred to, only had to call the sheep by name and they came running; yet Nigel and Andy Hudspith and two sheep dogs had to run in all directions to get their sheep together. “Perhaps”, added one bright Quest Club member, “they had big brained sheep in those days!” Then the children had to pose for three photographs. In the first they had to show a pose – and stay in it – of being extremely unwell. Most of them looked unpleasant but William Ashworth went one better and proceeded to strangle Philip Cook! The next pose portrayed them dead – and that was even worse still, but the third was “alive” and they were so alive that a few primroses underfoot promptly died, and we had to say goodbye to some asparagus tips too that were growing nearby. Charlotte Ironmonger refused to be photographed and spent the whole of this time on the roof of the adventure playhouse giving a running commentary on Nigel and the sheep. They then had to guess what these three poses represented in a Bible story but only Sara Salmon came up with the answer of Lazarus. They then discussed the significance of what Jesus meant by “The Life”
The smaller children of the Quest Club spent one enjoyable Sunday morning in the field with the sheep and Humphrey the horse. They had a talk on the Good Shepherd and spent some time making sheep out of cotton wool and card, and a sheepfold out of stones. Humphrey showed great interest in the children and they seemed more interested in him than the sheep, though they had to be careful to keep out of the way of his enormous hooves.
The older children, during these hot evenings, have been playing games in the recreation ground, though one evening was spent by a fraught 'Editor; trying to get reporters to a scene of strange happenings which started with 120 believers in a room and finished outside with 3,000 people , because of sounds of a strong rushing wind and what looked like flames of fire. The reporters were sent to interview a few of the 130 believers but most of the 'believers' did not quite know what had hit them, and the reporters spent a lot of their time producing articles that had hardly any bearing on the matter at all! The 'Editor' gave up and sacked the lot – but it was an enjoyable evening.
The Quest Club started after a holiday break with the young ones hearing all about rules – very applicable for those starting school. The rules that were discussed were mainly those very stiff and unnecessary rules made by the Pharisees over the sabbath day. It was pointed out to the children that Jesus, in healing on the sabbath day, placed love and care way ahead of rules and regulations. The younger ones had a great time designing a happy face with darning needles and wool, while the older ones puzzled out codes and discussed how they could put their sisters and brothers first. Most of them were very unwilling even to consider such a thing!
The Senior section started their session by preparing a “Fruit Salad”. Jamie Allen was given carrots to chop: Clare Townsend, tomatoes: Charlotte Ironmonger protesting that this was not a fruit salad, chopped up raw potato. Ruth Townsend added uncooked runner beans. Daniel Potter started chopping up onions but changed his mind and crushed garlic instead. Into this walked William Ashworth and Paul Sage munching salt and vinegar crisps and they decided they would add their crisps to the mixture. Lucy Bluck added the final touch by pouring on tomato juice - and there stood the fruit salad looking quite delicious. However, everyone decided it was completely the wrong ingredients.
They then heard about Abraham, his wife Sarah and concubine Hagar who, because they did not wait for God's PLAN, became wrong ingredients in a terrible in a terrible mix-up of hatred, jealousy, pride and anger. The seniors then went on to discuss their own situations when they felt like walking out and running away from home. “What”, they were asked, “is the best thing to do in these circumstances?” There was complete blank silence. “Look at Abraham's family,” they were urged. “Things went wrong because they weren't following God's.........what”? More blank looks! Another attempt was tried. “They weren't following God's p........”? “God's penguins?” suggested William. “What about pigs?” said Thomas Salmon. One more attempt was made. “They weren't following God's pl........” “Police?” suggested someone – and there was pronounced hand clapping when Clare Townsend came to the rescue and came up with “God's Plan!” Having decided, at last, to bring a bit of sense into the evening, we had just four minutes in which to end the meeting with each one praying their own individual prayer. After they had left, it was quite surprising to find that, while talking, the children had eaten all the 'fruit salad' despite the wrong ingredients!
Fun Day and Thank You Service
The whole of the Quest Club every year had a Fun Day on the Rec just before the School Summer Holidays started. Rounders matches were always played – children v. adults – and the children nearly always won! After a few years, we decided to put children and adults together, with plenty of volunteers for each separate match.
There was always a barbecue going with plenty of coke, fruit drinks, orange squash and home-made cider. And each time, we had an ice-cream cart collected from Wellesbourne, and that was very successful, with only a few items not being sold. Volunteers took them home to their deep-freezes making a donation for them, so that Quest Club would not lose out on any money, for the whole of the contents had to be paid for by Quest Club when the ice-cream cart was collected.
And at the end of each Fun Day, the Rector would be there, handing out the attendance prizes calling out each child by name through a loud-speaker.
For a few years, it was followed the next day by a “Thank You” service at the Church. Prior to the service, songs were song in the Church as people came in – nearly always Graham Kendrick with the children providing with their various instruments, the accompaniment. In one of these services, one of the young people, Sara Salmon, played and sung her own composition with her own words which expressed her faith that 'Jesus means everything to me'. And the service was always well attended.