Monday, December 04, 2006

Am I being unreasonable?

I've been sharing the leadership of an after-school club at the local (non church) primary school off and on for a couple of years, taking it over more fully this year when a teacher retired , and relaunching it with a slightly snappier name chosen by the children to replace the original cringeworthy "Christian Club".
It is, I repeat, a voluntary after school club, with an expressly Christian agenda. For the record, the name the children chose was JAFFA kids (Jesus A Friend For All),- so it's hard to think we've been unduly sly or stealthy in our approach.
So what am I to make of a parent who has contacted the school to say that her daughter enjoys the club and is keen to continue attending, but as they are Jewish she does hope that I won't be focussing on Christmas in our activities as term draws to a close? Her child is a sweetheart and a real asset to the group, - but it does seem a complete nonsense for me to reorganise the programme and lose one of a limited number of opportunities to remind the children that Christmas is about more than just presents. Tomorrow, I'll try and do something about light and darkness that will be applicable to Hannukah as well, I hope (suggestions very welcome)...but for the final session of the term, I'm anxious to steer their thoughts to the baby in the manger . I hate to be awkward, but I am a Christian priest trying to help the children to celebrate a Christian festival. Surely that's not too much to ask?

I can see it will be an ongoing problem....There's lots I can do during "Ordinary Time" by way of exploring the stories of the Hebrew Scriptures, and some work on social justice issues would be great too, but what price Easter without the cross and the empty tomb? And why send your child to a Christian club if you don't wish her to hear any part of the Christian message? I'm very happy to have her there,- as I say, she's a sweetie. I'm just asking...


Anonymous said...

I think asking her what she hopes her child will receive from the group and contribute to it would be a start. It's a great opportunity to do some basic interfaith relating - eat cake together and talk about hopes - yours and hers. Just enjoy the opportunity!

Kathryn said...

Trouble is, the school can't/won't give me her phone number, and her child has been collected/walked home with a friend every week thus far. Writing a note feels a bit on the heavy side...though a conversation would surely be the best answer.

Anonymous said...

I think a very friendly note will probably be the only way of contacting her if she doesn't collect her daughter from school. Would she be prepared to come in to see what the club does and to tell the children about her own Jewish heritage, or are parents unwelcome (not I'm sure by YOU or the school, but sometimes they are by the children)

PS if this crashes like the last two times I've tried to volunteer for the Christingle committee I'll know it wasn't meant to be and that I can escape that fate.

Anonymous said...

This is a time to lead with your chin. Jaffa is a Christian club and should be inclusive only to the extent that it does not exclude Jesus.
So, head held high, a note to the parent explaining why and what Jaffa is about and your willingness to be inclusive allows the parent to make the informed choice - the child sound too young to make the choice.
I'm sorry to say you cannot be all things to all faiths, you know your flock and you can only protect another flock in a limited way.
God Bless

Kievas said...

Well said, Andy. I don't think you're being unreasonable at all. To use a bad analogy, I wouldn't sign up for a wine-tasting club and expect them to feature only non-alcoholic beverages!

Purechristianithink said...

How did this child start attending in the first place? Is there a chance she is coming because her Mom has some sort of childcare arrangement with the Mom of the friend she is walking home with? It would seem silly to send your child to a Jesus club and then get squeamish about Christmas, but if the child started going because she's tagging along with a friend, the parent's may not have had a clear idea of what was going on until she was fairly well involved.

Lorna said...

I like what Andy wrote.

To be honest this is the down side of postmodernism. We cannot be exclusive to the point of excluding Jesus from a Christian club.

That said I think it is great if opportunities arise where you can explore our Hebrew roots :) - but not to the point of confusing the kids!

PCIT made a good point too. The parents may not have really realised until now what the club was for. If that's true - and they really do not want her exposed to Christian ideas and thinking - then they have to withdraw her from the group. You cannnot (or should not) accommodate their wish too far - or the club becomes a church run /supported - but Christless - after school day care :(

Tom Allen said...

Presuming that you might have mentioned Jesus at some time in the past - you have every right and other parent will expect that you will do at CHRISTmas - so go ahead with your plans.

Its the Mum's choice not yours. A simple friendly note saying what you plan to do to celebrate Christmas - invite Mum to come as well if she has concerns - or say that you will fully understand that if she wishes to withdraw her child from this session - and that the child is welcome again next term. Whatever you do don't make an issue of it cos this kind of thing can quickly blow out of all proportion! Its the Mum's choice which you will respect!

For next term send out parental permission explaining what the club does and its ethos forms directly with each child to be returned to you (via the school) including a contact address and number.

The sooner you start building links directly with the parents the better - otherwise you will be stuck with confidentiality rules within school. Both problems solved in the long-term?