Thread: 3109: St Peter’s, Brockley, London Board: Ecclesiantics / Ship of Fools.

To visit this thread, use this URL:;f=6;t=008449

Posted by Baptist Trainfan (# 15128) on :
The reviewer tells us of the unruly behaviour of children at this church. S/he wouldn't be happy with the locally-famous notice in the door of St. Pancras RC church in Ipswich, which states: "Noisy babies and turbulent small children are welcomed by the Parish Priest and he hopes their mothers will feel completely at ease in bringing such little children, whatever noise they create".

[ 03. February 2017, 15:39: Message edited by: Baptist Trainfan ]
Posted by dj_ordinaire (# 4643) on :
The report can be found here...

Is the intention to discuss the MW report itself, or to have a more general discussion of parental and childcare issues during services?

If the latter, please keep the debate civil as this is a topic that can rouse strong and sometimes personal opinions on both sides. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.
Posted by Sipech (# 16870) on :
It was interesting to note that it said the Anglican church shared the building with Brockley Community Church. There's no sign of that on the latter's website.
Posted by Bishops Finger (# 5430) on :
Gosh - I was a guest preacher at this church during Advent 1980 or thereabouts!

At that time, the church still had pews and choir stalls of traditional type, along with a good mixed choir of adults and children. The principal service was a straightforward Series 3 Parish Communion (the little greeny-blue booklets), with Vicar in cassock, surplice and black scarf - all fairly Low Church, as still appears to be the case today. I think the musical accompaniment was provided by an organ, but I can't recall what hymnbook was used (A & M Revised, I think - the one with the dark red cover).

IIRC, the congregation was a little larger than that in the MW report, but the children seemed better behaved (or managed) in those far-off days....

My impression was of a welcoming and happy congregation, busy being the parish church of what is indeed quite a pleasant area. Incidentally, the Vicar at the time of my visit (I knew him from his previous parish) was Dutch.

As regards kidz in church generally, my local parish has a note in the front of its service booklets saying that children are welcome, whether they want to go to Sunday School or not, and that noise is no problem. Frankly, a little disruption here and there is no big deal, IMHO, and I'm just glad to see that the churches concerned have a good number of young families attending.

Posted by Bishops Finger (# 5430) on :
Sipech - it looks from the Community Church website as though they meet on some Sunday evenings at St. Peter's. Presumably a joint service, but not quite the same thing as 'sharing the building', I agree.

Posted by Baptist Trainfan (# 15128) on :
Originally posted by dj_ordinaire:
Is the intention to discuss the MW report itself, or to have a more general discussion of parental and childcare issues during services?

Well, I just thought I'd start a hare running and see where it goes ... [Devil]
Posted by Albertus (# 13356) on :
Thread reminds me of a story I once heard an Irish RC priest tell about when the Bishop came to his church. There was a baby crying continually and just as the Bishop began his sermon, the mother got up to take her child out. 'No need for that, dear lady', said the Bishop from the pulpit, 'he's not bothering me'. 'Maybe not', replied the mother- 'but you're bothering him!'
Posted by Jack the Lass (# 3415) on :
I enjoyed reading this report - I used to live in Brockley, and also attended Brockley Community Church for many years, and know the guest preacher well. He's a good guy. I bet he thought the kids were really quiet and well behaved compared to BCC [Two face]

I think Revd Corinne has been at St Peter's for some years - I left London in 2005 (I left BCC at the end of 2002, though I've stayed in touch with many friends from there since including Phil) and I'm sure I remember her from joint services before I left.

I don't know if Brockley Churches Together (which in my day was entirely evangelical and consisted of St Peter's, St John's (where our dear shipmate ken worshipped), Brockley Community Church, Brockley Baptist and Crofton Park Baptist) still do this, but it used to be that every year they would do a joint Good Friday service which always ended up as pretty inappropriately bonkers and chaotic, but fondly remembered.
Posted by venbede (# 16669) on :
The MW says nothing about children's noise - rather the vicar had to leave her seat a number of times to go and retrieve children from behind the altar, pulpit, etc.

Is it unreasonable to expect parents to leave it too the vicar to (lovingly) control their children out of consideration for her and everyone else?

[ 04. February 2017, 07:39: Message edited by: venbede ]
Posted by Bishops Finger (# 5430) on :
venbede is right - the children appear to have been hyper-wrigglesome rather than noisy, though I doubt if they made no noise at all...

Posted by L'organist (# 17338) on :
Keeping small children happy in church can be awkward - try toddler twins - but it can be done. However, if these children were in some sort of 'official' creche or children's church group then they should have been kept in place by those responsible for the creche/group.

When ours were small we found that the best type of liturgy for them was something high-church: lots of people moving about, a bit like being at the theatre. In the twins' early years we found that our local A-C church not only provided a creche and 'junior worshippers' group in a glass enclosed enclave at the back of a side aisle, but they handed out play-bags to those parents who wished to keep their small people with them: bags were age categorised and contained a couple of soft toys, 2 books (1 bible story, 1 ordinary) plus paper, pencils and crayons. All of this was organised through the church's branch of the Mothers Union, who also ran baptism preparation, including the offer of free babysitting so people could get to sessions - bliss!

Little children being able to wander about in a large building like a church, out of sight of mum and dad, could be putting themselves in the way of serious harm...
Posted by Morgan (# 15372) on :
At our small church parents generally cope but plenty of others are aware of their needs and are happy to help so that parent and child are both looked after. A toddler trotting towards the sanctuary with parent in quiet pursuit is just as likely to be scooped up by whoever they pass, kept for a little while and then passed to parent or someone else.
I recall an ordination service at the cathedral where the bishop told everyone, "It's a long service and there is a play area in the side chapel but don't worry if your little ones need to wander about a bit. We have a thousand people here to watch over them." This not only reassured parents but reminded the rest of us that we are also there for one another.
Posted by SvitlanaV2 (# 16967) on :
In the UK telling parents that 1000 strangers were watching over their kids would sound a bit creepy! A shame really, but there you are.
Posted by Bishops Finger (# 5430) on :
Yes, I'm afraid I thought that, too. As you say, a shame - the bishop concerned meant well, of course.

I think it is indeed up to parents/guardians/adult appendages/whoever to look out for their kidz in church, just in case they start to freak out, but a little bit of movement and childish glee during the service is surely not displeasing to Our Lord and His Blessed Mother.

Posted by venbede (# 16669) on :
Originally posted by Morgan:
A toddler trotting towards the sanctuary with parent in quiet pursuit is just as likely to be scooped up by whoever they pass, kept for a little while and then passed to parent or someone else.

Here, nobody in the congregation bothered to scoop up the children and it happened repeatedly.
Posted by Baptist Trainfan (# 15128) on :
I think that the size of congregation matters here. In a small church, everyone knows each other and parents have confidence in the other parents, who are their friends. The whole set-up may be fairly informal.

That's not the case in a large, crowded church (especially if the child goes out of sight). And, in such a church, there may also be the expectation that a creche will be provided.

I suspect that the social background of the congregation may well be a factor too - but I'm not sure how.

[ 05. February 2017, 07:40: Message edited by: Baptist Trainfan ]
Posted by Morgan (# 15372) on :
Indeed. Toddlers who are picked up by non-parents know and are known by those people. But that is the result of the norms of interaction within the congregation.
Posted by Bishops Finger (# 5430) on :
That may be true, but, alas, IME, not everyone even in a 'family-sized' congregation is necessarily trustworthy.

It's probably best, sad though it might seem, to draw attention to a roving child's parents, rather than to touch the child him/herself.

Posted by venbede (# 16669) on :
And at St Peter's Brockley the parents don't seem very interested. If it was one kid wandering around, well that happens. But repeatedly?

It seems to me that the notice "parents are responsible for their children" was probably justified here. Not that it should need saying. Not that some parents appear to be taking no notice.
Posted by Bishops Finger (# 5430) on :
The trouble is, ISTM (and my suspicious mind) that if it's the norm for kidz to be allowed free rein (despite the Vicar's efforts), two dangers arise, to wit (a) it might put some folk off worshipping in such a distracting environment, and (b) it might 'encourage' or perhaps 'tempt' some folk who might not faultless when it comes to dealing with children.

A sign of the times, perhaps, alas.

Not to cast any nasturtiums on the good people of Brockley, of course, but I hope YSWIM.

Posted by Lamb Chopped (# 5528) on :
For what it's worth (probably nothing) we had a similar problem for several years with our congregation back in the days when everyone was newly come to America. Parents allowed their children to roam all over the nave, narthex and even chancel, basically trusting that they'd come to no harm at church; and everybody took a hand in protecting, admonishing, or disciplining everybody else's kids. I of course was a nervous wreck because (among other issues) the front doors of the church opened on a four-lane highway, and some of those toddlers were FAST. So I locked those door and sat in the last pew to let in latecomers for some years, until parents realized that they weren't in a small village in Vietnam anymore, and the dangers here are different.

I have no idea about the church in the OP, but it's possible there is something cultural going on.

© Ship of Fools 2016

Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classicTM 6.5.0