News From Welcome Kids

In January, due to growing numbers of children attending Welcome Kids each Sunday, we launched “Welcome Kids Seniors” (WKS), a new group aimed specifically at children in school years 5 and 6. They meet at The Cube each Sunday morning and are seeing God do some amazing things.

The group is led by Harriet Code and her awesome team. I wanted to share what’s been going on since then, in their own words.

What Harriet says:

“Since we started WKS, we’ve seen our year 5 and 6 children grow in confidence, in friendships and in their own relationship with God. The numbers attending each week have grown too.

“It’s a really exciting time opening the Bible every week, immersing ourselves in God’s word, and asking questions about what it means for us today, as well as what it tells us about God. We’ve been trying to encourage the children to ask questions and consider their own thoughts and opinions in relation to what we’ve been discussing, and it’s been great to see them come to church with their own questions. They are an amazing group of children and it’s a really exciting ministry! “

What the kids say:

  • “I feel really valued – everyone has an opportunity to share something”
  • “It’s a mix of things: we have fun games, we go more in depth and there are comfy seats!”
  • “I like that the questions are more complex”
  • “We get to have more open conversations”
  • “I can share my own thoughts and everyone’s ideas are listened to”
  • “The leaders are amazing”
  • “I know the people in seniors much better now and our friendships have become much stronger”

What some of the WKS team say:

  • “I love the games, and seeing the kids relate to each other and enjoy being at church”
  • “It’s great seeing the relationships that are building with the kids from different schools in a Christian environment”
  • “I like the breakout groups where the children think of ways they can be kind to kids at school and outside of church”
  • “I love the ‘eureka’ moments when a part of the gospel becomes so clear to the kids that they take over with their own explanations and answers”

Some final words from Harriet:

“When I think about what we’re trying to do in WKS, we want to encourage the children to be confident in their thoughts and opinions, to have a safe space to question their ideas, and to independently think about God’s word. It’s really exciting to think that we’re on this road, and this became evident during the recent Welcome Kids Weekend Away.

“During the Sunday meeting at the weekend away we shared (with permission!) how some of the children were going through a tough time with health issues, bereavement and more. They all showed real emotional maturity as they poured out their support, respect and concern for one another and then surrounded the affected children and prayed for them. For me this was a moment of awe, pride and genuine thanks to God. They really are an amazing group of kids! 

Encouraged? I certainly am

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Some Great Opportunities To Grow

We have some great opportunities, starting in September, for people who want to grow in their walk with God and explore their future calling:

Welcome Church Internship Program

This year we’re offering a one year internship program at Welcome Church, starting in September and running through to Commission Festival in 2024. This is a fantastic opportunity to LEARN about yourself and about God’s plan for your life, to SERVE the church and our local community, and to GROW in your character, faith, skills and gifting.

Our Internship year is aimed primarily at Christians who are in the 18-25 age bracket (though we’re happy to chat with anyone) and is linked with the Commission Internship Program. It includes a mix of practical experience and theological training.

We have up to three places available, based in our Welcome Church offices, focussing on one of the following three areas (although other areas of interest could be discussed):

  1. Children’s and/or Youth Work
  2. Comms and Social Media
  3. Outreach and Social Action

If this sounds like something for you or for someone you know (perhaps even someone in another church), please get in touch with Christopher Hawes by email to express an interest (click here)

Commission Theology Training

In addition to the Internship Program there are also some great opportunities, for everyone who wants to, to receive some theological training. Commission, the group of churches we belong to, offers 4 levels of Theological Training:

Level 1: Theology For Life – this runs once a month on 11 Saturdays across the Calendar year at Hope Church, Winchester. Whether you’re a brand new Christian wanting to learn as much as you can about Christianity, or a well established Christian wanting to deepen your theological understanding, this course is an excellent place to start.

Level 2: Training for Leadership & Ministry (TLM) – this runs once a month on Saturdays from September to July, over a two year period. The course aims to do more than simply ‘teach’ theology; it is also intended to train and equip you to lead others. TLM is Commission’s core programme for equipping and coaching new and emerging leaders in our church family and helping people grasp our shared vision.

Level 3: Graduate Diploma In Theology – Partnering with Union School of Theology, this course facilitates rigorous theological study at a graduate level, alongside a cohort of other leaders from Commission Churches. The Diploma is accredited by The Open University, and is designed for people stepping into formal ministry, as well as for leaders already in ministry who missed out on formal theological education.

Level 4: Masters Degree In Theology – Partnering with Union School of Theology, this course provides advanced theological study, at a Masters level, alongside a cohort of other leaders from Commission churches. This course is validated by The Open University, and is aimed at current leaders who want to grow through serious theological and applied study. 

For most people in Welcome Church levels 1 and 2 would be the best place to start, but we wanted you to know about all the options. If you want to know more about any of these, please check out the details via the various links above, and please also get in touch with Christopher Hawes by email to express your interest (click here)


We know that some of these courses can be expensive and, whilst this will not be an issue for many, please be aware that if funding is a challenge you can apply for a limited number of ‘scholarships’, funded by Welcome Church, for Levels 1 and 2, that will help towards the course fees. Please contact Christopher Hawes for more details about this.

Summoned To The House of Lords!

Christopher and I spent yesterday evening at the House of Lords. To be fair we were invited rather than summoned, but what were we doing there???

Read on to find out:

Big Ben Suit Selfie

It was great to have Tim Robertson from Compassion UK speaking at Welcome Church a couple of Sundays ago. Between us, as a church, we sponsor 265 children through Compassion – mostly in Togo. You can read more about that amazing work by clicking this link. If you want to sponsor a child please let me know; we have a few child profiles from Togo available, so please just ask.

Invitation from an MP

Because of our church’s connection with Compassion in Togo, Christopher and I received an invitation from Tim Farron MP (no politics on here please 😉) to attend an event at the House of Lords in celebration of all that has been achieved through the ‘Different Path’ appeal. The event was to mark the three year point of this initiative, and reflect on all that’s been achieved. It was also a chance to visit the House of Lords, which is an impressive place.

Different Path

‘Different Path’ was a UK Government “matched funding” appeal to support child survival in Togo through Compassion UK. As a church we raised £40,000 pounds for this in 2019 as part of our building project. This money was matched by UK Government Aid to make it up to £80,000.

Overall the appeal raised more than £2.2m and has saved and improved many lives by providing vulnerable mums with medical support, health screenings, hygiene supplies, nutritional supplements and education. This all helps to protect women during pregnancy and ensure that their babies have a healthy start in life. The Different Path appeal has now exceeded all of its targets, which is an amazing result; I’m glad we were able to be part of it.

Some Highlights

Some highlights of our visit:

  • We met Koffi Ahonon, the National Director of Compassion Togo, who is both a really nice guy and an impressive leader
  • We saw The Speaker’s State Coach, which was made in the 1600s but appears to be in better condition than my car
  • We watched a live debate from the Strangers Gallery in the House of Lords (not as lively as one might hope … 😉)

We also took a selfie or two along the way 😀😀

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What Really Happened At The Welcome Kids Weekend Away?

Welcome Kids had a great time away at Walton Firs Activity Centre in Cobham last weekend … and I know some parents enjoyed the extra peace and quiet at home too 😃

60 kids from school years 3 to 6 attended the weekend. They were blessed by dry weather, which was a big answer to prayer at the end of a very wet April! The kids had a packed schedule from 8am to 9pm each day, staying in ‘sleeping pods’ in the forest overnight (see pic)

During the weekend they took part in a lot of fun activities including high ropes, crafts, buggy building, capture the flag, rounders, silent disco, a very popular tuck shop, a bonfire with toasted marshmallows & hot chocolate and lots more.

Some highlights included:

  • Caving: hunting for “fossils” and things that were hidden in an underground cave structure
  • Nightline: a blindfolded obstacle course completed as a team, learning to work together and help each other
  • Challenge the leaders: leaders completed various challenges that usually involved getting extremely messy

The weekend had some excellent spiritual content too

There were three main teaching times which looked at:

  • Getting to know God the Father (by looking at the story of the Prodigal Son)
  • Getting to know Jesus (by looking at Jesus as The Good Shepherd)
  • Getting to know the Holy Spirit (by looking at some Bible stories revealing what happens when people are empowered by the Holy Spirit)

Some of the Welcome Church Worship Team were at the weekend, leading times of praise and worship that engaged all the kids in singing, dancing, contributing and praying for one another. The year 6’s were able to spend time with some of the Welcome Youth leadership on Saturday evening, who came to join for the evening, in preparation for this age group moving up to Welcome Youth from September.

Some comments from the kids

  • “I feel like the worship was really good and we got to know people more”
  • “The activities were really fun and we got to spend some time getting to know each other”
  • “The talks were really good because they explained parts of the Bible really well and I feel like they helped me get closer to God”
  • ”The talks were really touching and helped me understand God’s love a bit better”

A Big Thank You

25 helpers were involved in putting the weekend on and I want to say a big “THANK YOU” to them all, most especially to the dream team of Harriet Code, Crispy and Darren Forsdyke who pulled it all together.

If you had a child at the weekend away, why not ask them about what they learnt and what they enjoyed? If you missed out this year, remember to put the dates for next year in your diary now (3rd to 5th May 2024), and make sure to book as soon as the event is advertised; it’s likely to sell out fast again.

You can stay up to date with what’s happening at Welcome Church by subscribing to this blog to get it straight to your inbox each week