You’ll be pleased to know that the St Andrew’s Street Baptist Church Baby and Toddler Group (or ‘BTG’ for short) is doing very well. Each term it has followed a similar pattern with regards to attendance: a slow start, a lovely gathering of momentum and a strong finish. We ended in July with a dozen parents/carers and their children per session, and nearly twice that number attend intermittently.
We have a swell time together. By about 10am each Thursday all the toys and activities have been set up. Folks drift in and the St A’s lower hall fills with the sounds of conversation and happy noises from the children. It smells good, too. The coffee is brewing and the cakes are all plated up in the serving hatch. Friendships are made. For example, an Israeli lady came along one week and was overjoyed to find two more Israeli mums with their kids. The conversations range from an easy ‘back and forth’ about what’s going on in people’s lives to some heartbreakingly sad stories prompting words of comfort.
And there’s singing. The quality of the ‘song-time’ depends on the musical ability of the person holding the guitar. It would be fair to say that my renditions of, Purple Rain by Prince, Sultans of Swing by Dire Straits and Bowie’s Space Oddity garnered a mixed response. However, Bethan, our professional musician is universally acclaimed and enjoyed.
In a strange way, even the tidying up is a blessed time. Most people head off for lunch with their infants – some to LivingStones Café and some to Cambridge’s green spaces, on a sunny day. Other parents and carers linger a while and lend a hand putting things away. I always gently protest and say something like, “There’s really no need to worry.” But, I’ve come to think that it makes these kind helpers feel a greater sense of belonging. It’s not just a toddler group, it’s their toddler group.
A few weeks ago, as we packed away, a grandmother spoke to me and lamented the fact that there must be a number of local folks who would appreciate the BTG, but hadn’t yet found it. She said we must do more to say to Cambridge, “Here we are!. After this challenge we’ve tried particularly hard to improve our advertising and internet ‘presence’. One of several small subsequent improvements is this: if you log onto Google Maps and hover your cursor over St A’s a little message advertising the BTG now appears – clever stuff. Four new parents have arrived as a result. Praise the Lord, it’s a start…
I hope you enjoyed reading an update about how the BTG is doing. However, the crux of this month’s article is this: the grandmother made a really very important and far reaching point. If you have something good and people would benefit from it, you must find a way to let the people know! What is true of the BTG is true – on a much larger scale – of St A’s as a whole. It’s a good place to be; it’s a place where you can meet with Jesus, as well as lots of His disciples; it’s a place where you can find forgiveness and welcome; it’s a place where you can find healing and nourishment for the soul and spirit; it’s a place where you can find direction and purpose. St A’s is custodian and proclaimer of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Do people know this? Are the countless thousands of passers-by aware of what is hidden behind our six oak doors? Dare any other than our ‘regular visitors’ walk down the dark passageway and see what LivingStones Café is all about?