Advent Adventures across Cornwall

December 19, 2022 by Jac Smith

Advent Adventures are an enchanting journey through the Christmas story and around Cornish churches  for primary school children. It began three years ago, at All Saints Falmouth, with just one school with four schools coming along in year two. This year the Falmouth team welcomed over 300 children from six schools and the Adventures extended into the Lizard, based in Helston.

Breaking down barriers and sharing the excitement of Christmas

Advent Adventures is fast becoming part of the local children’s Christmas tradition and perfectly fulfils the vision of its creator Jane Wheeler, Schools and Families Lead from TM Falmouth. “I’ve always felt we should be doing things in the community and outside of the walls of the church. This has been a great way to make those walls invisible, making the church an accessible exciting space that benefits children and teachers alike.”

… A great way to make those walls invisible, making the church an accessible exciting space that benefits children and teachers alike.”

Helping teachers, especially during the busy Christmas time

Because Jane is a retired teacher, she understands the complexities of everything teachers must achieve and how to lighten that load. “I know what teachers and head teachers need and how to get that across quickly. By laying out in bullet points what we’re doing and how it fits in with the curriculum, they can just scan the email and see how boxes can be ticked. Teachers are incredibly busy, and if someone is offering to help in a way that makes their job easier then they will take that offer.”

Teachers are incredibly busy, and if someone is offering to help in a way that makes their job easier they will take that offer.

The work Jane and her volunteers are doing isn’t confined to Christmas. Throughout the year Jane goes into schools, taking assemblies, teaching RE and bringing alive key Christian festivals. Last Easter they offered an Easter Exploration along similar lines to Advent Adventures. “I totted up how many children we had encountered over the year and realised it was over 800!” says Jane.

Working with other churches and other denominations to bring prayer spaces into schools

For Jane, being Schools and Families Lead is the perfect job. It brings together all her years of teaching with her desire to share God’s love. “I really haven’t had to work terribly hard,” laughs Jane. “God nudges open the doors, and we just have to trust and walk through.” When Jane says ‘we’ she means with volunteers from other churches and other denominations including Emmanuel Baptist Church, Light and Life and New Street. Together they have been creating week-long prayer spaces in schools which are being valued by the staff.

“A head teacher from one of our schools asked if I could create a regular space for prayer during lunchtimes. I hadn’t done a prayer club before but was game and so set one up. I didn’t know if it would work, and at first, just a handful of children came along. Now there are regularly 20-25. It’s a quiet space in what can sometimes be a noisy and overwhelming environment that offers something calm and reflective.”

Sharing the learning across Cornwall

All this learning over the past three years of Transforming Mission is being put to good use. Jane works with schools in and around Falmouth but has also made her resources available to everyone across Cornwall. This year, churches on the Lizard have embarked on their own Advent Adventures, based in Helston. They have started with two primary schools but with 23 small churches in their deanery there is plenty of scope for it to grow into the cherished tradition it has become in Falmouth.

Advent Adventures are not just for children

On the day I went along to the Advent Adventures, All Saints looked beautiful. Christmas lighting, decorated trees and the stunning backdrop of stained-glass windows welcomed children from Mabe Primary School. They had great fun acting out the journey to find the baby Jesus, especially the camels! Everyone enjoyed the craft activities that included writing prayers on tree decorations, and huddling in to hear the meaning of it all through Godly Play. And it wasn’t just the children who were having a good time. “Teachers tell me they love coming because it’s one of the few occasions they can relax, sit back and simply observe their children having fun.”

“Teachers tell me they love coming because it’s one of the few occasions they can relax, sit back and simply observe their children having fun.”

The teachers know their pupils are in safe hands, that they are being taught something measurable but valuable. And they easily find the wonder too. One little boy wrote a prayer for his grandfather, thanking God that he was having a good time in heaven. Another six-year-old prayed for peace on earth for everyone. It doesn’t really get much more wonderful.

If you would like to offer the Advent Adventures in your setting, or you would like help in reaching schools, Jane would love to hear from you. You can contact her here

Post expires on February 19th, 2023

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