Monday, 25 February 2013

Women in Kids Work

Please be careful with the following blog post - The stories in it needed to be told because things NEED to change. I may disagree with the people in the stories but I don't want to cause them un-necessary hurt.
I am only telling these stories now because all around me I can see the damage this theology is doing. Godly women with God given gifts are being hurt, and some leaving kids work for good...... and that is wrong.

There’s a lot in the news about the decline of women in leadership roles across the country.

I’ve also spent a lot of time being cross at some points of view on women and leadership from some corners of ‘The Church’ where it is said that even out side of the church women should not take jobs that put them in charge of men.

I’ve had a bit of a journey in my own life on this, but a couple of incidents really stick out.

Having just started out in my role as a children’s evangelist, I was invited to go to a local church’s children’s outreach group - I assumed this was to do what I do! Apparently I  was only expected to tell I nice story….. Instead I did the whole gospel talk bit, presented in a way that was suitable to the age and stage of the non church children there. I was not aware that women are not allowed to do this - especially if there are men present. I was never invited back. At that time, I was also doing quite a few all age services, and the pastor of that church went to the minister’s get together and recommend that they don’t use me, mainly because I dared to share the gospel with men present. This hurt me a lot. I couldn’t get my head around it: I can tell a story, but I’m not allowed to explain to the children what it means? That didn’t make sense!

But the best was to come……

Since the age of 14 I had been helping on a camp for children with disabilities - a camp that shaped my life and where my passion for having an accessible church that is inclusive to any child began.
I had a couple of years out to do my nurses training and then returned. There was a new leadership team in place, which was fine. Circumstances came together in an unusual way: At the same time I started out as a children’s evangelist, the speaker on the camp stepped down. This coincided with my health beginning to fail meaning doing the one to one care was becoming difficult. I was invited to come as the person in charge of teaching the children. Wow! Everything I loved doing rolled up in one week. I really enjoyed finding ways of teaching the kids in a way they found accessible and fun.

Then one Sunday - a man walked into the meeting. This was a camp for KIDS, but people on holiday locally would come into to Sunday meeting because they thought it would be safe (Heaven forbid they went into a charismatic church by mistake whilst on holiday!!)

I had already raised child protection concerns on this - because of how vulnerable the children were, but what happened next came right out of left field.

The man (Someone I had been to school with - so it made it so much more painful) complained that he had been taught by a woman!! But…. This is a camp for kids said I, but to no avail. After that, the teaching was to be done by my husband  on the Sunday - just in case any men came in wanting a church service. I’d only just got married that year - and Steve found it both silly and maddening. So I prepared the teaching and Steve delivered it…. On the Sunday.

A couple of years later, one of the young leaders answered me back when I asked him to do some thing. I remember it as clearly as yesterday. He stopped reading his Oswald Chambers book “My Upmost For His Highest” and said “My dad says I don’t have to do what you say because you’re a women”. Each year it got more and more difficult, and I was afraid the children would start to be affected by the negative atmosphere. There were other women on the leadership team - but they weren’t teaching and were serving in the perceived correct way.

We eventually made the very difficult decision to leave the camp. We went to the next preparation meeting and explained that although it broke our hearts, we felt it was best for both the kids and the camp for us to step down. Steve had been the treasurer and handed over all the up to date accounts.

No one prayed with us, no one said thankyou. That night I walked away from that meeting sobbing -  after 20 years of serving these most precious kids I felt as though I had been thrown out like garbage….. Just because I was I woman.

God has brought out a lot of good from this situation though - that camp was, and STILL IS doing amazing work. People who go to it as leaders come back changed, and children hear and understand the gospel. And we have gone on to make a difference for many more children with disabilities and additional needs that we may not have done if we had stayed. Proof that God is above our theology debates.

Many years later, we still have people not comfortable with asking us to do all age services because of their position on women speaking. Some say yes, because I am under my husband’s authority. But some do actually recognise the gift that God has given me. 

I feel for my female colleagues - also gifted kids workers, who are told that they can’t do something because they are women. I feel even more angry when they are told that it would have been ok if they were married! Gender and marital status should have nothing to do with doing what God has called us to do.

I don’t speak and teach because I want to (I’m a shy introvert), I teach because God has compelled me to.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Latitude Family Holiday

Where do I start!

Latitude was a long held dream of mine - to pamper families who have children with complex medical/additional needs, because in general, the world and the church don’t do this very well.

The journey has been long and difficult to get there, but we did - and it was great!

Having been fully booked within weeks of our first publicity going out, suddenly our numbers dropped. This was due to many reasons - the most common being the child with the additional needs being too ill to come. We also had team dropping out (All for good reasons) and then our cook found out she had to have a minor op that weekend.

We took advice, asked people to pray, got more information out there through as many friends and organisations as we could….. And we waited.

I’m not one given to ‘words and pictures’ but many were given to me over this time of uncertainty. All tested, and all correct in their interpretation. All pointed to going ahead, even if we only had one family.

By a week before - we had two wonderful families, and I can honestly say they were exactly the right two families to test drive this new venture! (I know they will read this, so I will say again - “you were the right families - and we loved having you there!”)

One family had been booked right from the beginning, the other came in at the last minute, but because of the way we had everything planned, we could adapt to who ever came through the doors on the Friday evening.

By the Sunday before we started, we had been blessed by an amazing cook, and another amazing lady who ably assisted her in the kitchen

We were blessed by other organisations - Ben Pugh from Impeyan ( helped us a lot. When we thought we couldn’t afford them to come, he rang and worked through with us what we needed. He adapted his ‘show’ to the needs of the children - and it was fantastic! (Those of you who follow me on twitter or face book will have seen some of the photos!) He spent much longer with us than he could have, treated the children with care a respect and understanding. He spoilt the parents and leaders too with an amazing show. I can’t recommend them highly enough!

Equine partners also brought one of their horses up - Smoke was a lovely gentle horse who loved to pose for the camera (Yes - really!) The children had the option to ride or not, one said yes and one said no, but one of the mums took the opportunity to have a go too.

After the horse riding came the magnificent cream tea! I think we’re all still full from that!

On Sunday morning we had a walk/roll along the seafront - ‘bracing’ but fun! In the afternoon the adults had their own ‘service’ with the sermon given by Jeff Lucas via DVD (A spring Harvest Celebration talk), whilst the children had their own meeting in the sensory room.

Steve Hiscox, a member of Children Worldwide who is an osteopath also came - with the purpose of pampering families and children with his gifts.

Made by Martyn
Mobile Being Made by Donna 
The rest of the weekend had various things for family and children. We kitted out one of the bedrooms as a sensory room, had posh craft for the mums and sensory craft for the children, plasticine for all the grownups (quite a hit as you will see from the pictures). I even got to teach some crochet and knitting skills….. I love knitting and crocheting! We also had some ‘blokey’ things we could do if needed (We listened to local air traffic via a scanner and watched the space lab pass overhead!)

We ate lots, drank much tea and coffee, talked over the biggest range of things I have ever heard discussed and I hope encouraged one another in the process.

The team were fantastic - it was a team that had never worked together before, and we had three team who had never been to Dalesdown before and either only knew one other member of the team or no one at all. I have never known a team gel so quickly! We worked well together and have left this weekend with the gift of new friends - not only from the team, but the families too.

Anne Roche - another member of Children Worldwide, led family devotions on the first morning. She played the Steven Curtis Chapman song “Fingerprints of God” as part of that. As we looked at the children and their families (And the team of course) you could see those fingerprints very clearly! I feel that set the scene for the rest of the weekend - you could see Gods fingerprints over the whole of this event. It was blessed.

Are we going to do it again? Well…… yes! We need to confirm the date, but we think it will be just a couple of weeks later than this year’s - still only a weekend, but who knows, we may end up doing more than one weekend.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Additional Needs Alliance

Last weekend we had our first “Additional Needs Alliance” Forum.
It was a great success! Just over 50 people of like mind together in one room. 

The speakers were: Mark Arnold from Urban Saints. Me (Kay Morgan-Gurr) from Children Worldwide, and Paul Nash of the Paediatric Chaplaincy Network. There were others who came to help facilitate different areas of discussion.

The forum fed into the Children and Family Ministry conference (Hand in Hand), with the Friday night plenary being about “A Vision for Inclusivity” and an additional needs work seminar stream running throughout the weekend. This was also a great success.

What is the 'Additional Needs Alliance'?
The Alliance isn’t another organisation out to ‘get at’ churches. It’s primary aim isn’t campaigning but rather getting alongside people and churches to raise awareness in the area of working with children who have additional needs and disabilities. Ok, so some might see what we do as campaigning…..but that's just a side effect of our passion!

What we are aiming to do is start a conversation about how we care for children and families who are affected by the huge breadth of additional needs and disabilities out there. To raise a vision beyond just ‘catering’ for these children to creating a place where they and their families feel they belong and are wanted. We want churches to say yes to families who are so used to hearing ‘no’ when they ask if a church can cope with their child’s needs.

One of the things we have looked at is the vision for the spiritual walk of these children, their faith journey with God. We know they can have relationship with God - it may challenge how we view and understand faith, but we know that God understands and the power of the Holy Spirit works beyond our understanding. We believe the faith journey of these children should be a fundamental part of our vision.

1 in 5 children in this country having some form of additional need or disability, and it is obvious this number is not reflected in our churches.
There are small pockets of excellent work out there, usually stemming from people already in our church communities having children with additional needs. It’s a great place to start - but we can also see a much bigger missional picture.

Many people, when looking at this area often only see those children with ADHD, Autistic Spectrum disorders and dyspraxia, and although these are important, those with other conditions and disabilities are often forgotten. We want to raise awareness in ALL areas of additional needs and disabilities and make sure our churches are open and accessible. A safe place where they can belong.

What can you do?
You can join the conversation and spread it - Gossip this stuff around - Kids with additional needs and disabilities matter!

We have a facebook group  a twitter account () and an email address (On the flier to stop spammers getting hold of it!)
We are planning more forums - join the facebook group or contact us for more dates.
Link to a copy of the flier below here

*This is a Children Matter! initiative. Currently run by an Urban Saints and Children Worldwide partnership