Toddler group helps parish church to win national Kirk competition

A vibrant toddler group that has been running for only two years has helped a church to win a nationwide Kirk film competition.

Northesk Parish Church in Musselburgh submitted a winning entry for 'Show and Tell' depicting the design, creation and parade of a float themed on Jonah and the Whale.

The competition was organised by the Church of Scotland's Mission & Discipleship Council and challenged congregations to 'show' how they engage with the community.

Rev Alison McDonald, who is the minister at the church said:

"Northesk is part of Fisherrow which was historically the fishing community here and so the congregation had strong links to the sea.

"When we were looking for a theme for our float Jonah seemed ideal with its theme of boats and fish.

L - r Mission development worker Rob Rawson, family development worker Lorraine McBrearty, Minister Rev Alison McDonald and Session Clerk Heather Duffy
L - r Mission development worker Rob Rawson, family development worker Lorraine McBrearty, Minister Rev Alison McDonald and Session Clerk Heather Duffy

"We got the whole congregation involved in making the float.

"We asked people to knit fish so a lot of people were able to take away wool and knit fish at home.

The float was entered into the annual 'Honest Toun' Festival last year thanks to the efforts of a number of the church's groups.

Much of the work towards creating the float was done by the church's weekly toddler group, which was formed in the late 2016.

Vinnie with mum Claire and Elena with mum Sarah
Vinnie with mum Claire and Elena with mum Sarah

Set up by Family Worker Lorraine McBrearty, it began with a few children and parents, and grew to around fifty adults and kids attend the informal session each week.

Initially Lorraine only had a budget to purchase a large play mat, but through donations and a generous offer a £100 voucher from Ikea, there are now hundreds of toys available.

Speaking about the film and the float she said:

"Our parents and tots group is a recent addition to our church but has proved really popular.

"I thought the children would enjoy painting the fish, cutting things out and doing some crafts.

The Parents and Tots group
The Parents and Tots group

"I feel that it really showed how the whole community of the church then got involved with the wider community.

"We were able to show Musselburgh Northesk Church at its best as we paraded along the street enjoying crowds of people waving us on."

Many of those who started at the toddler group also now attend the Messy Church, which was started by Lorraine around the same time.

A prize of an ipad mini was presented by mission development worker Rob Rawson, who was one of the judges, on behalf of the Church of Scotland's Mission and Discipleship Council.

Toddler Vinnie and Elena
Vinnie and Elena attending the Parents and Tots group

He described the competition as an "absolute joy" to have been involved with.

"The whole point of the project is to encourage other congregations by showing what their church is doing.

"We were looking for something that was informative, imaginative and inspirational" he said.

"When you see the float going out in the crowd in the community it's saying 'we are here'.

"This has been an absolute joy to do - a great project.

"There are people from all ages represented here. It's an inclusive thing."

Next year Northesk Parish Church hopes to enter a float based on the theme of Noah.

Find out more about activities at Northesk Parish Church.

The runner up in the competition was an entry submitted by Wallacewell Community Fellowship, for their 'Oasis' community outreach.

They have won vouchers for their church.

You can watch a selection of the entries on the Church of Scotland YouTube channel.