21 April marks the 90th birthday of the Queen, our longest serving monarch. To celebrate the event, the Bible Society, HOPE and the London Institute of Contemporary Christianity have jointly published The Servant Queen and the King she serves, a 64 page book to support communities as they say thank you to God for a faithful life and to the Queen for a life of service to the country and the Commonwealth.
Co-written by Mark Greene of LICC and Catherine Butcher of HOPE, the book primarily uses the Queen’s own words from her many Christmas messages over the course of her long reign – words which reflect her deep faith in Christ. The Queen herself wrote the foreword to the book, in which she expresses gratitude to God for his steadfast love.
Scripture Union has produced a schools version, aimed primarily at Year 6, although it would be equally useful for older and younger pupils. Just 12 pages long, it adopts a magazine style which incorporates information boxes, images, post-it notes and quizzes. Do you know, for example, how much the crown weighs in equivalent pineapples? Or how many Prime Ministers the Queen has advised?
Endorsed by the DfE, this is an excellent resource for meeting SMSC requirements. With an assembly outline and a lesson plan for support, you can explore the Queen’s attitude to service. Encourage pupils to explore the concept of service further and maybe choose a way to serve your local community as a special celebration to mark the Queen’s birthday.
Using the Queen’s own words from her Christmas broadcasts and the foreword to the book itself, you can explore how her faith has motivated her actions, through a life lived at the centre of our democracy. As author Mark Greene comments: ‘maybe someone will be surprised, impressed by the quiet fearlessness of the Queen’s openness about faith despite being a public figure in an increasingly secular society’.
Click here to purchase the full version of the book and the schools resource, which is provided in packs of 10.
AssemblyBritish valuesFaith schools November 13, 2015 Admin10
For those who are new to the idea of a Pray Day, it’s a day each year which is set aside for people across Europe and the world to pray for education. It includes everything from nursery to university; it encompasses everyone, from students, staff and governors to parents, youth and church workers. If you’re involved in education in any way, you will be prayed for during the day – this year, Pray Day is on Tuesday 17 November.
There are various ways of getting involved. You might pray alone for the people you know in your own context. You might organise a prayer group in your church, your school or your college. You might lead a school assembly or an RE lesson to explain what prayer means to Christians, or you might organise a prayer walk. The Pray for Schools Pray Day page has lots of resources and suggestions which are adaptable to your situation.
This year, the UK theme is a Prayer Marathon inspired by Paul’s letter to the Hebrews, in which he wrote: ‘Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith’ (Hebrews 12:1—2). The idea is that you choose a time during the day when you can pray for 30 minutes, before handing the prayer baton on to somebody else.
The resource provides hourly themes, derived from the concept of a marathon. They include Persevere; Stay Focused; Be Rooted in the Word; Be Aware; Encourage Others; Trust God, and Be Thankful. Each theme has a number of prayer points, many of which you can personalise to your own context.
Maybe you’re reading this and wondering why you should pray for education in particular. The answer is because there are so many issues that we need to pray about. Our children and young people are under great pressure to achieve academic success. They are growing up into a world which measures value and accords social status based on material success. Anxiety levels and mental illness are reaching epic proportions.
Education is a tough place for Christians to be at the moment, as the pressure of a secular culture attempts to silence the voice of faith. We should pray for Christian staff and students, that they are afforded a fair space to talk about how their faith informs the way they see the world.
Nurseries, schools, colleges and universities are communities which rely on positive relationships to be effective. We should pray for those relationships and for the building of communities which support and nurture whole people.
We hear every day of the hundreds of thousands of children and young people who suffer in silence; who cannot go to school because they are displaced, or because it is too dangerous. So we can pray for the global perspective, for peace, for stability and access to education for children around the world.
It’s an opportunity, too, to be thankful for the excellence of much of our education service and for the many thousands of people who work so hard in schools and colleges on behalf of their students.
When I profiled the work of Pray for Schools earlier this year, I wrote: ‘Just pause for a moment and visualise your local school or college cocooned in a prayer wrapper. Then visualise a bigger prayer wrapper encompassing our whole country. Think what it might mean for the wellbeing of our children, our teenagers, our families and ultimately our society’. That’s why we pray.
However you decide get involved with Pray Day, pray in the strength of Christ’s promise: ‘Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours’ (Mark 11:24). Be blessed as you pray.
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People describe the value of singing in all sorts of ways – mood enhancing, energising, a way of increasing feelings of well being, and a vehicle for developing self confidence are just a few of them. Group singing brings people together and fosters a sense of community. You can laugh, you can have fun and you can learn new skills in a safe environment. Just watch any of Gareth Malone’s ‘The Choir’ series to see all of this, and much more, in action. Singing is a physical, emotional, cultural, social and spiritual experience. And as Ella Fitzgerald said, the only thing better than singing is more singing.
So how exciting would it be for your school, your community and your church to be brought together through singing? That’s exactly what iSingPOP offers. Part of the Christian charity Innervation Trust, iSingPOP is a Primary school singing project that uses the entire school to produce its very own pop CD. Children spend 4 days learning and recording the songs, then perform them a week later to the entire community at a concert hosted by the local church.
All iSingPOP tutors are experienced in working with children. They will offer a structured experience during which children learn not only lyrics and actions, but also singing techniques, performance skills and dance routines. Lyrics, which are written from a Christian perspective, are full of positive content that help children grow in friendship, hope, peace and compassion. They cover important subjects like love, prayer, respect, role models, social justice and forgiveness. You can check out some song previews here.
The experience will include 3 days of tutor led music teaching during which children will learn the songs; an exciting recording session using a sound engineer and a mobile recording studio; the dress rehearsal and whole school concert with full PA and equipment provided, and finally the opportunity to purchase your own school CD.
Download the Schools Pack to find out more, including a detailed breakdown of costs and timings. But the benefits don’t stop there. The availability of backing tracks allows schools and churches to continue singing the songs and talking about their messages long after tutors and the mobile studio have packed up and moved on.
I recently spent a couple of days with some amazing people from iSingPOP. Their enthusiasm, their commitment and their sheer energy (even at the end of an exhausting week) were infectious: to say that I was really excited by the potential of iSingPOP at several levels is an understatement. But don’t just take my word for it – check out their feedback comments from schools, parents, churches and various Diocesan Boards of Education.
Never mind about Britain’s Got Talent or The Voice. Become part of your own, much better, iSingPOP experience – better because it will be yours, an experience that children, families and the church community will never forget.
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