How the Family Services began

The Family Services started in 1999, when the only regular church service at St. Augustine's was a service of Holy Communion or Mattins at 8.00 a.m. - and even that didn't happen on the fifth Sunday of a month. The regular congregation was ( perhaps not surprisingly ) small, and mainly elderly. It is fair to say that there was a general, if vague, expectation that St. Augustine's would in due course dwindle to the point where it would be simply silly to try to keep it going, when it could be mercifully put out of its misery.

Not everyone was entirely happy with this arrangement. Another point of view was that, with St. Augustine's the only visible Christian witness in the Stanley Bay area of the parish, it should be encouraged to grow rather than fade away.

Of particular concern to some was the provision of Christian teaching to children. The children of Devonport school were ( more or less ) conveniently placed for children's activities at Holy Trinity church, as well as corresponding programmes offered by other denominations, but for those attending Stanley Bay school these opportunities were far away.

So the St. Augustine's Kids' Club was started in 1998. The Family Services grew from that base, as a means of providing some sort of "children's church".

For the first three years of their existence, there was some reluctance to accept the Family Services as a worthy activity. We don't know why, and it doesn't matter now. For whatever reason, the attitude began to change in 2002, and from 2003 onwards the service followed fairly closely a standard pattern : Easter, Christmas, Christingle, and the fifth Sunday in any month.

This continued up to, and including, 2008. In 2009, things changed : more enthusiasm and support for St. Augustine's became evident, marked particularly by a change in the Sunday service time to 10.00 a.m., and later to 11.00 a.m., every Sunday, with the comparatively modern New Zealand liturgy rather than the Book of Common Prayer services, and a regular children's programme during the service time.

The Family Services were preserved, though in an altered form. At first, in effect, they took over the early part of the New Zealand liturgy service, so the whole service became a shortened Family Service followed by Holy Communion. It was intended that there should be two sorts of "Family Service" - one following, more or less, the pattern already set in the earlier Family Services, and another presented by the leader of the new children's programme.

In the event, the presenter decided not to continue with the children's programme or the associated Family Services, which is where we stand now : with one regular service each month including components particularly designed to engage children. More detail on our current practice should be available in the Family Service notes, but there is no guarantee.

We hope that this is not the end of the story - watch this space !

Alan Creak,
2009 September.