Café Praise is a cross-parish initative by St. Maurice and St. Mary’s to introduce the Word of God to unchurched children and those who may be on the fringe, but do not want to attend traditional Sunday school.
In October 2009 members of the three churches, St. Maurice, St. Mary’s and Chaddlewood, who had completed a Fresh Expressions course at Exeter, formed a
leadership team, and with the aid of a £50 donation from each church, they opened the doors of Café Praise.
Café praise is aimed at primary school children, and younger, who along with their parents, enjoy lively, informal worship in a café style atmosphere. Monthly events are held on a Sunday afternoon at the larger hall of St.Mary’s with a different theme each month. The afternoon starts with a craft-time session with youngsters making things such as models and collages based on the day’s theme. Following this is the worship period with story-time featuring a Bible story which may be a video or a series of images which are voiced over by the presenter, Steve. The meaning of the story is then explained in terms of how it applies to the children in today’s world. There are songs from the singing group with up tempo contemporary backing tracks, and finally, tea-time with squash and cakes. Throughout the afternoon the ‘café’ is open for parents to enjoy tea and coffee.
Using the same formula Friday afternoon events have been held at the St. Maurice hall where tea is a light cooked meal of something and chips followed by ice cream.
The other aspect of the outreach is visiting schools to lead assemblies based on a ten minute version of the Café Praise format of a story, presentation and songs
Two Diocesan grants have been awarded in recognition of the mission outreach work of Café Praise, and along with money raised from the 100 Club, toy stalls at church fairs and jam sales,it is managing to be self- funding.
A number of people from the three churches help regularly with distributing publicity material, collecting 100 Club contributions and baking cakes for tea-time. They also help at events with the craft, singing and in the kitchen.
It is hoped that in the future more people will become involved and the outreach can be extended to include events for older children and adults.