Project to Get Families Chatting About Faith is Launched

Project to Get Families Chatting About Faith is Launched

Bethany CofE Junior School, St Clements CofE Infants School, and LOVECHURCH Bournemouth have been involved in the pilot project for ‘Chatting Faith’, part of the Church of England Growing Faith initiative to put children and young people at the centre of church life.

The Chatting Faith project is a joint venture between the dioceses of Portsmouth and Winchester (working with the Church of England’s Growing Faith Foundation) that provides resources to parents to reflect on aspects of faith children have found in storybooks they are reading at school, using the books as a springboard for relaxed conversations about the Christian faith.

Winchester is one of 12 dioceses to win funding for our project – each one is very different, others include developing a model for school chaplaincy for example. In our project, each family is given a goody bag with a selection of books, a mug and notebook, and some guidelines for how to chat about the books they read and ask where God fits into the story, or what God might think about the issues it raises.

We’ve deliberately chosen secular stories, some of which will be familiar from school, to help families feel that God is interested in every part of their lives. We hope that as the project grows they’ll come up with their own ideas for other books to read, or films and adverts, and in time it will be natural to chat about how faith applies to normal, everyday life

Jane Kelly, Diocesan Lead for RE and Children’s Spirituality

The visit on 16 November was part of a fact-finding pilot day with Cheryl Govier from the national Growing Faith Foundation, who is visiting each of the 12 projects to get feedback on how things are going. Lawrence Woodward, head teacher of Bethany Junior School, arranged for us to meet a group of parents and children – all families who have started attending LOVECHURCH as the church is working very closely with the school.

The feedback they gave was that they loved the goody bags and the fact that they’d been chosen to be part of this pilot, and had some useful suggestions for us on the choice of books. Going forward, Lawrence is going to set up regular meetings with this group of parents, so they can talk about the books together first over tea and biscuits,  which will hopefully help them chat about the books at home afterwards.

Bethany School and St Clements have also shared some of the books more widely through collective worship and sent the questions home for families to talk about (using the CHAT mnemonic: Chat about the book, How does it make you feel? Ask about the deeper meaning, Talk about what God might think about this).

The other Winchester schools and churches in the first cohort are All Saints Milford on Sea with Milford on Sea Primary Academy, and St Martin’s, East Woodhay. St Luke’s Sway have also signed up to the second cohort starting in the New Year. The Education team are keen to recruit other schools and parishes – do get in touch with for more information.