Scampton Church, part of the Springline parish, believes that following and worshipping Jesus should be fun, exciting and not too 'stuffy'. Father Sebastian Matapally who leads the church, together with Revd Sue Deacon, who runs Children’s Ministry at Scampton, and the rest of the team, want their worship, prayer and teaching to be modern and relevant.  

With this in mind they developed their six-word invitation – that everything they did would be: inclusive, informal, interactive, friendly, fun and free!

The inclusivity element is very important to the church as Jesus himself preached about God’s inclusive kingdom.  

The church has a growing monthly family service and the team were looking at ways that they could make it better. Using the six-word approach they realised that a central part of the service - the thanksgiving communion - was not inclusive of children although historically children did take part in the ceremony. 

The Ely report, and the regulations made at the 2006 Church of England Synod state that dioceses in the Church of England can now welcome children to Holy Communion before confirmation; a fact that is not widely known.

So, with the help of David Court, the Bishop of Grimsby; Jonny Bell and Charlotte Bloom from the 'Lincoln Diocesan Children and Youth Mission’ they started to develop a new and exciting plan whereby children would be welcomed, valued equally and not excluded from this part of church life.

Sue said: “Children are naturally curious so if parents or carers are participating in something then it is understandable that they want to take part as well – ‘Why can’t I have some?’ they say. Here at Scampton we feel that Jesus wants to feed all who want to understand, so we wanted to be able to say – ‘Yes, you can have some’.

To get started they sought Diocesan advice which stated that children must be seven years or over and be Christened/Baptised to join in communion.  It also meant that they had to teach them the significance of the last supper and about Christ’s sacrifice; so they arranged preparation sessions to teach them its meaning before they took part so they knew what would happen and what they had to do.

Sue continued: “During Jesus’ time he shared bread and wine with the male disciples, as was culturally normal at the time. But this is not to say that that model is the only appropriate one to follow now and I think communion should be shared with everyone. 

“Bishop David presided over the first service and he baptised four children and served first communion to eleven children aged between seven and eleven years. The feedback we received from the congregation was overwhelmingly positive so we are absolutely delighted by that.”

To fit in with modern family life and other weekend activities, their new inclusive family thanksgiving service will begin at 4pm on the third Sunday of each month, starting in May. This is in addition to the other family service which takes place on the first Sunday of each month at 10.15am.

There were initial concerns about unconfirmed children of seven years of age taking communion. The team tried to answer some of the concerns raised as follows:

Q:  Is my child too young to understand? 
A:  Experience over the years in the Church of England has shown that children of 7 years and over have sufficient maturity and understanding to participate in Communion.

Q:  What if my child is not baptised/Christened?
A:  This is not a problem. In most cases, children can be baptised/Christened before the next communion service.

Q:  Don't I have to wait until my child is confirmed before they can take communion?
A:  No - The Church of England now allows for children to take communion with the local Bishop's permission, and preparation beforehand. This means that confirmation is not rushed into and the children are more aware of the promises they are making.

Q:  As an adult I'd like to know more myself. How do I do that? 
A:  Why not come along to our next Alpha Course.