Lichfield delighted with first Messy Church confirmation
October 2013 marked the first confirmation service in a Messy Church congregation in the Diocese of Lichfield.
Messy Church originated out of the Fresh Expression movement, which was established by the Church of England and the Methodist Church to pioneer new congregations that appeal to those who might not normally attend a 'regular' or traditional church.
Now, however, Messy Church is a movement in its own right, though still within the umbrella of Fresh Expressions. It aims to provide a space for families to experience and take part in worship in a new way, incorporating creativity, celebration and hospitality.
Messy Churches have become extremely popular in recent years. There are 126 Messy congregations in the Diocese of Lichfield alone, which translates to approximately one in every three parishes, and involves over 7,000 people each month.
Some have expressed reservations about the movement, however, asking whether it is really just a craft club, rather than a church.
Bishop Mark of Shrewsbury, who led the confirmation service, has rebutted these claims, however, saying: "It's got all the elements of Church. There is gathering together, fellowship together, worshipping God and we learn together what it is to be a Christian."
Cerys Hughes, Messy Church Advisor in Lichfield Diocese, added: "If Messy Church is church, we need to explore ways of developing it so that people are able to take the natural steps of belonging to a church and so baptism and confirmation within Messy Church are absolutely the right thing to do."
Last month saw Canon Phil Potter appointed as the Archbishop's Missioner and new team leader of Fresh Expressions. He will succeed Bishop Graham Cray, who is retiring from full time ministry after being in the position since 2009.
Canon Potter said: "As well as being a dynamic and effective ecumenical partnership encompassing many denominations and traditions, Fresh Expressions is a movement that is transforming the missional life of so many churches in this country and around the world.
"It is also transforming individual lives by reaching many people who wouldn't normally be reached with the good news of Jesus."