National Prayer Day for Parent and Toddler Groups
The third annual National Day of Prayer for parent and toddler groups will take place on Sunday 2 June 2013, and is timed to coincide with National Family week
The announcement comes from 1277, an alliance of churches (including the Baptist Union of Great Britain) and other agencies that support the work of church-based toddler groups.
For many churches the weekly parent and toddler group is a key outreach opportunity as well as a 'brilliant way' to serve their community, said 1277, named because that's the average number of days a child has between birth and starting nursery education.
'For many young children and their parents, the parent and toddler group is a highlight as they meet up with friends to play and chat, but for many it is also the only time they will come into contact with a local church community,' said Alison Clark, chair of 1277 and children's evangelist with Praise and Play. 'It's a fantastic opportunity for the church to serve their community and share the gospel at the same time,'
Research has shown that over half of the nearly 4 million under-4s in the UK are part of a church-based parent and toddler group, with around 27,000 churches running these groups.
Each child comes with at least one adult - mum or dad, grandparent or other carer - so the number of people being served by these church-based groups could be well over 6 million in total, every week.
In addition every week thousands of volunteers set up church halls, make tea and coffee, design, prepare and organise craft activities, play with children, chat to parents and carers, tell Bible stories, provide tissues and wet wipes, lead singing sessions, listen to people's troubles and joys, pray for and with people and love them.
The Revd Ian Bunce, Faith and Society Networker: (Mission and Media) for the Baptist Union and a member of the 1277 network, said, 'With toddler groups reaching 52 per cent of the toddlers and carers in this nation, it has the greatest potential of any mission activity of the church.
'The frontline missionaries, that are the volunteers, need our prayers that they can be free samples of Jesus week by week. Imagine the possibilities if the whole church really supported this ministry!'
1277 is therefore encouraging churches to pray for its parent and toddler group - for the toddlers, for the parents and carers, and for the team that lead the group. (If your church doesn't have a parent and toddler group, why not use this as a time to start praying to see if God wants your church to start one!)
Resources to help publicise and prepare for the day are available free to download from 1277's website www.1277.org.uk