The Parish Church of St James
St. James's Road, Hampton Hill, TW12 1DQ (Parish Office 020 8941 6003)
The Parish Church of St James

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Sunday School

Shell Seekers Sunday School

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Shell Seekers Sunday School is a lively, caring group for children aged four upwards, run by a range of adults from the church. The name is inspired by the shell that represents our church's patron saint, St. James, and the fact that we are all seeking to further our knowledge of God and his love for us.

Some of the things we do can be seen on our page Activities.

The children meet during term time from 09.25 in the church hall. They later join with the rest of the congregation, in the church, in receiving a blessing or communion and singing the last hymn. This way they are included in the church service itself and feel part of it. To let everyone know they have returned one of the members brings a small cross and puts it on the altar. On the first Sunday of the month the children and teachers join in with the family service, the All-age Service, which is also attended by The Ark and local uniformed organisations.

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The cross

The Sunday School Cross

The collection they have every Sunday is in aid of The Children's Society. Each term they try to have one event where they raise additional funds for a charity of the members' choice. This has involved a cake sale and Mothering Sunday Breakfast.

The teachers use a variety of materials which follow the Christian Year so that the children can see that they are an extension of the church and congregation, not a separate group. They often display their work in the church and in the hall and showl the congregation what they have done.

Their activities are many and varied. On Remembrance Sunday the children learned why this day is so important and wrote their own prayers which can be seen on the Remembrance Sunday page. They also wrote Christingle Prayers and made a Jesse Tree in Advent. The work they did for Harvest Festival, Mothering Sunday and Easter can be seen on the appropriate pages. Some more of their activities can be seen on the page Sunday School Activities on the Young St. James's section of this site.

The children sometimes act as sidespersons, read lessons, say prayers, help with Parish Breakfast and so on during the services on the first Sunday of each month. They have also put on activities in church for Mothering Sunday, Easter, Harvest and Christmas.
Some of the older children have also progressed to being servers, again extending their knowledge of the church rituals.

Sunday School children are an integral part of the church community and contribute to its rich tapestry. They are valued as individuals. They develop and grow within the church family and can progress to taking the intercessions and serving, and many years later to bringing their own children to church! They are encouraged to create, listen, question and are challenged to think of others and to look for ways to help others. Sunday School gives them so many challenging and exciting experiences and such a positive start to their Christian lives.


Sunday School

Sunday School work

Sunday School work

The Jays Sunday School


Sunday School work

Sunday School work

Sunday School work

Sunday School work


The Historical Background to St. James's Sunday School

The Sunday School in 1908

The Sunday School in 1908

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The June 1885 magazine reported about the flourishing Sunday School: “The numbers still continue to increase, and in addition to some fifty older ones who attend classes at Mrs. Fitz Wygram's and at the Vicarage, there are now two hundred and ninety two upon the books.” By 1910 attendance was so great that it became impossible to seat all the children in church, so they had a separate short and simple service in the church room at the same time as the main service in church. By 1936 there were three “departments” in the Sunday School, meeting at various times during the morning and afternoon. In 1952 it was decided to hold the classes in the afternoon so that the children and their teachers could also attend the morning services. A new class was started on the Rectory Farm Estate for the "younger children of the outlying portions of the parish", with nearly forty children "on the books".

There were many changes to timings, groupings and venues over the succeeding years but during the mid-1980s the needs of young people within the parish were considered in great depth. As a result, in 1988, the Sunday School was renamed 'The Jays' - J for Jesus and J for St. James "as a place of worship, of joy, of fun - a place where children want to be. A place of welcome; a place to discover the joy and good news of Christianity and its power to change people's lives." The Jays met from 09.15 to 10.05 in Wayside and later in the new Church Hall, and were organised into three age-based classes. The group for eleven to fourteen year olds eventually became called St. James’s Young Church, and met at 09.30 for talks, discussions, quizzes and plays.

Around 2000 Sunday School started at 09.30 in the church itself. During the last verse of the first hymn one of the children went up to the altar to receive a cross from one of the clergy. This was then taken into the hall by all the children who then had their usual meeting. The children brought their pocket money for the collection they had which was in aid of the Church of England Children's Society. At the end of the meeting, at around 10.15, they returned to church and one of them returned the cross to the altar along with the offertory. They joined with the rest of the congregation in receiving a blessing or communion and singing the last hymn. This way children were included in the church service itself and felt part of it even though they spent most of the time in the hall. They sometimes had sleepovers in the church hall or sold breakfasts to the congregation to raise money for charity. During the summer 2011, the Sunday School's name was changed to 'The Shell Seekers'.
"The name was inspired by the shell that represents our church's patron saint, St. James, and the fact that we are all seeking to further our knowledge of God and his love for us."

For a more detailed account, read the page The History of St. James's Sunday School.

The Historical Background to St. James's Youth Groups

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Young people meeting in Windmill Road in 1908

Young people meeting in Windmill Road in 1908

The oldest Church youth organisation in the village was the Church Lads’ Brigade, which started in 1892 and trained youths in “health, citizenship and the principles of the Church of England”. A Band of Hope was started in 1893 with an inital attendance of about a hundred. Other groups formed in the 1890s included a Lads Institute providing recreation and games for boys over fourteen. A Young Peoples' Social Guild was formed to bring together young communicants or aspiring communicants for lectures and talks. A Girls’ Friendly Society was started and became very popular with weekly handicraft meetings. By the 1920s more general clubs were inaugurated to take in all sections of the village youth, including a Lads’ Club and in 1929 a Girls’ Club, but these went out of existence before the Second World War.

St. James’s Youth Club began between the two World Wars and met in Windmill Road School for games, indoor sports and dancing. It was superceded in 1951 by a Youth Fellowship, more closely attached to the church. This was aimed at those between the ages of 15 and 25, and its programme included visiting speakers, practical topics, Bible study and open meetings. The Youth Club restarted in 1960 with social evenings on Fridays and discussions on a variety of topics on Sundays.
In the mid-1980s a Youth Fellowship called 'The Rebels', crossing parish boundaries, was opened for young people aged ten to fourteen. Some time was committed to some form of Bible study and there was also snooker, table tennis and other games. Another new group, for youngsters between thirteen and eighteen, started up in 1993 and the Youth Club was re-launched in 1995 on Sunday evenings with regular Christian discussions, talks and activities.

For a more detailed account, read the page The History of St. James's Youth Groups.

Further Information
Contacts
Contact Catherine Gash on 020 8783 0563
Documents Latest Sunday School APCM Report
Associated pages on this website Associated pages on this website:
Christian Year | Sunday School Activities
Through the Years:
Sunday School (1885 March) | Crystal Palace Excursion (1886 July) | Sunday School Treat (1890 January) | Prize Distribution (1894 February) | The Band of Hope (1894 February) | The Lads’ Brigade (1895) | The Girls’ Friendly Society (1896 February) | St. James’s Young People’s Social Guild (1933 February) | Sunday School Teachers (1935 October) | Youth Work (1952 June) | What Does Y.P.F. Stand For? (1969 March) | Children 88 (1988 August) | Evan Almighty (2007 October) | School for Thought (2010 February) | New Name for the Sunday School | Shell Seekers support Operation Noah (2012 February)
Links to other websites Links to other websites:
Christianity | Christianity for Children | The Children's Society

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