Listen again to Ryan’s interview at TGIS in September 2016, telling us all about his faith journey.
Ryan’s latest report – February 2017
I am so excited about what you are about to read even though it may be a bit long, there are some amazing stories in here about what I have been up to with St. Mary’s Church and the local community. My last update letter was in August 2016 where I got to tell you all about Lighthouse and the work that I did in the Summer Term and now I would like to take you through a month by month step all the way up to January 2017.
September kicked off with the usual going into schools, seeing how all the staff and students were and what they got up to in the summer holidays. I remember hinting in my last update letter that I had something planned for the schools and one thing that started this term was getting to teach RE to year 4 at Princes Risborough Primary school on a Thursday afternoon. It is a great pleasure and an honour that I get to do this for the school and help them with assemblies also. I would like to say personally how much this school is improving from the small setback last year and I would like us as the church family to continue praying for Princes Risborough Primary School and for the work they are doing with the children of our community, more on Princes Risborough later.
At Longwick, as well as the usual assemblies that David, Dan and I get to take, Splash continued to run on a Wednesday lunchtime with usual faces returning to learn some amazing stories from the Bible. During the Autumn term we were looking at stories from the book of Acts and how the church started all those thousands of years ago. September was good to start getting back into the swing of things and seeing everyone again in church and schools. All the CTR youth groups are going well also, Pulse is having a good regular attendance and Later is growing with each session we do.
October 2016 is the month where I celebrated being in the post here at St. Mary’s for a year and I couldn’t have asked for a better first year of work.
October 2016 kicked off with me going on a first aid course, which was really nice because by coincidence my Mum was running one so I got to spend some time with my family back in Kent while renewing my first aid knowledge. Just to say I got a 100% on my small exam at the end so all is good and well. Going back through the calendar for October and it seems nothing out of the ordinary happened, apart from my calendar that has a lot of tennis on it. However something big did happen in this month. I started in October to volunteer at Risborough Youth Club and this is brilliant, meeting young people who I wouldn’t usually see but also seeing some of the old year 6s from both Longwick and Princes Risborough Primary School. Risborough Youth Club has a dedicated volunteer team and is a great facility for young people with lots of space to chill or try to beat the leaders at pool, table tennis or air hockey. If you have a young person who is in year 7 or above, or know a family who does, I would highly recommend that you go and try it for yourself.
How could I forget the All Hallows Eve party that the amazing Gill Wilkinson put on for the church and the community? This was amazing; I remember I finally got an opportunity to wear my Hogwarts school clothes and, if anyone asks, I was sorted into Gryffindor House and one of my many memories from this event was that when I was doing apple bobbing an adult who shall stay not named (though her name has already been mentioned), PLUNGED! my head into the freezing cold water and soaked my outfit. It was a great laugh and all the kids who were there had a great time and got to hear the amazing message about Jesus being the light to the world and the light that is in our hearts.
November was a great month as the big plan I have had since I started finally got a huge leap forward. This was to do with Princes Risborough Secondary School and, if you haven’t heard yet, but in November using a contact I had there to learn more about the school and most importantly how can I best support them. Meeting with the headteacher and with staff it was best for me to do some volunteering in the House (pastoral care for the students). So from then, every Monday afternoon I have been in Princes Risborough Secondary School and been doing one-to-ones with students and helping them with a variety of things. This has been a great learning and rewarding experience for me. Also getting to know some of the House staff has been great. Hopefully from this building block St. Mary’s can create a lasting relationship with the school and maybe in years to come expand the work that I do in Princes Risborough Secondary School. November was a great month for the children’s and youth work that St. Marys and I got to do. The staff team managed to fit in a social in the busy schedule and got to go to the wine bar for the evening for a lovely evening to celebrate many different milestones and achievements for the year.
In November I got to go to my first of two trips to Oxford Cathedral with Longwick School. This first trip was with Year 4 and Year 6 and it was a great trip and lots of information was learnt by all including myself. I would just like to say that St. Mary’s helped make this trip possible by donating the money for both the coach trips and it was well received by the school. We hope to be doing the same for KS1 later in 2017. At the end of November we once again had a Gill Wilkinson special Advent activity afternoon and what I remember most was making an amazing advent calendar and filling it with chocolate, a bible verse and then more chocolate. Even though I think most of us lost our hair from creating the calendars it was brilliant to see the faces of the children and parents when they had finished and the positive comments about the activity afternoon are always great to hear. We also had Longwick Reception come and visit the church and I got to plan the trip alongside the class teacher and do 4 interactive stations. I can say that this went down really well and got high praise from the class teacher and the governors from Longwick School. The week before this we were also visited by the whole of Key Stage 1 from Princes Risborough Primary School and, like Longwick, this was very successful and full of praise. I really do enjoy having the schools come into the church and to see it as a fun environment and where the children can learn about all the different aspects of the church and the Christian faith.
December is always a crazy month not just for the church but for the children’s and youth work. December is always a month where my days off seem to escape me but that is fine and, as I say each year, I won’t let that happen again. We shall see if things change this year. December kicked off with a huge schools concert for the lights switch-on event here in Princes Risborough. I know many people had their own opinions about the event but from a mission point of view seeing the church packed full to overflowing with the local community can only be positive. Yes that day was long and crazy but it was amazing to see the talent of the local schools. It was also nice on the next day to help out with the Longwick Christmas bazaar.
Monday 5th of December was a chance to shine as I got to do the talk for the guides and brownies Christmas concert and I based it on the Amazon Christmas advert and how we are told to love everyone. I don’t know if the crowd enjoyed the talk but I got a round of applause at the end so I believe that it was well received. I also got to go on my second trip to Oxford Cathedral and this was again an amazing trip. I was hoping to do a table chart for all the schools that came into the church in December but this is probably something that I am going to be doing for the 2017 APCM so do come along to that to see the numbers, I will say now that the numbers will surprise you. On Sunday 11th I got to lead the Christingle services in church and these went well with one service in the morning and the afternoon, however I would love to know your thoughts about Christingle and what could be different for 2017, please do email me.
It was great to get a VIP ticket to Princes Risborough Primary Schools nativity play and it was amazing, some children who did solos nailed it and were brilliant. It was great to see Longwick’s Key Stage 1 nativity and also Key Stage 2 Nine lessons and carols and the singing and the speaking from both Key Stages were also on point and amazing. It was nice to finish the intense month of December off with a quiet drink in Costa with Dan, David (so not as quiet as you think) and Louise before going back to my parents in Tonbridge for Christmas. A Christmas that included getting a microwave and putting a fire out on Christmas day, come and see me and I will show you the video that my sister took.
January has come and gone so quickly. The biggest change that has come up in January is having no David around as he is on his well-earned sabbatical. Normal service resumes;
Monday- Princes Risborough Secondary School and Risborough Youth Club
Tuesday- Day off
Wednesday- Longwick Primary School
Thursday- Princes Risborough Primary School
Friday- Longwick Primary School assembly and Nursery Service
Sunday- Morning group and youth groups in the evening.
That’s a small insight into my timetable for the week.
Wow this has been a really long update and I do applaud you if you have made it this far.
There is a lot more in store for this year with some new teaching schemes and resources coming in, so again watch this space and see what the church is doing to further increase our ministry to children and young people.
If anything you have read here has inspired you, and I hope it has, then do come and speak to me if you have any questions about any aspect of Children’s and Youth ministry.
Have a great year and I hope you enjoyed this update just as much as I have enjoyed writing about it.