Children & Families' Worker

Dani RobertsonDanielle (Dani) Robertson is our part-time Children & Families’ Worker, based in the church office. She was born in Virginia, USA. She completed a Bachelor of Arts in Music in 2011 and a Masters of Theological Studies in 2017. She moved to Teddington last year for her husband, Scott, to complete his PhD at St Mary’s University.

She first visited St James on Christmas Eve, 2017, and has loved it ever since. She has worked with children for many years, including being a summer youth intern in Hawaii, and doing mission work in West Africa.

Over the past few months Dani has had the opportunity to sharpen her skills through several avenues of training. She and Scott attended the Youth Ministry toolkit training at St Saviours Sunbury where they met with other youth leaders and volunteers to brainstorm about how to better communicate with our young people. Dani has also attended the Safe in Faith Conference run by the Borough where she refreshed her training of how to best keep our children and young people safe while in our care. A new Faith in Schools program has offered hands-on opportunities for her to learn what teaching Religious Education lessons in a primary school setting looks like. Her favourite training so far has been the Godly Play intro day which filled her head with new ideas of storytelling, and resources that can aid in communicating more effectively with children and young people.

Dani's hope for children and young people

Dani's desire is for the children and young people at St James’s to be inspired by the word of God, to be excited about the community we build together, and for this to radiate through them in their daily lives as they share God’s love with everyone they meet. We may build this community together through ice skating, weekends away, and even over a bucket of chicken nuggets, but God and prayer will always be at the centre of what we do. Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these". (Matt 19:14) As Children’s and Families’ Worker, Dani hopes to provide opportunities for the children and young people to come to Jesus and encounter him in real and moving ways. This may be through song, dance, crafts, or stories, but it will most definitely be through laughing, crying, and a lot of prayer.

Some of the work of the Children & Families' Worker

Anything involving children is now included in the work of the Children & Families' Worker. This includes the Shell Seekers, Youth Group and the children from the Together at Eleven service. The ministry to local schools has grown over the past few months and Dani assists Derek with taking school assemblies and welcoming school children during their visits to St James's. Dani also supports some of St James's other ministries like the Ark and the pop-up cinema. 

Dani has tried to make visiting a priority as she believes it is one of the best ways to show God’s and the church’s love for people on a more personal level than Sunday mornings can sometimes allow. "One little boy was very surprised to see me at his house because as far as he was aware, I live at the church!" She took some crafts to children while they were home ill and got to know some of the 'Together' families over a cup of tea. Not everyone is too keen on a home visit, but she thinks more people are warming up to the idea. She tries to catch all the children and young people around their birthday with a card just letting them know how much St James’s loves them.

An introduction to Dani (taken from the Spire Magazine in February 2019)

Hi, my name is Dani, and I was born a tiny little baby with whooping cough and under developed lungs in Suffolk, Virginia, USA. After a month in the hospital, my family wasn’t sure I was going to live past infancy. Consequently, as I grew up I was always told: ‘You’re special; God has something special for you to do'. According to my parents, I’ve been telling children that God loves them since I was in the playground in pre-school. Fast forward to when I was nine years old and I fell off a horse, causing internal bleeding and a ruptured spleen. I should have died. Again, I was told, ‘God saved your life again; he must have something very special for you to do'.

From cowgirl to theology I wasn’t really worried about this. I wanted to be back on the horse, and maybe move to Texas to be a cowgirl. Well, I did move to Texas after university, but instead of becoming a cowgirl, I went to theological college. It wasn’t something I had intended to do. After a few weeks of dating while we were both studying for our first degrees, Scott told me very clearly that he could not get married for at least eight years as he had to go to theological college. Well, we compromised and were married two years later, in 2009. After we had both graduated, I worked full-time to support Scott as he studied in theological college. I never intended to study there myself, but God put it into my heart and so three years later I signed up and started Church History and Old Testament classes.

I learned amazing tales of preachers boldly proclaiming the Gospel, even facing prison or death. I spent a half a college year just studying the book of Exodus, reading it five times, and writing a paper comparing the laws in Exodus 20 to the Codes of Hammurabi. And onward to England…! After we both graduated, I tagged along with him again... this time all the way to England. After being dumped on the pavement by our taxi driver, who said we needed to pack less, we settled in and haven’t looked back.

We first visited St James’s on Christmas Eve 2017 and were astounded by the beauty of the church and all the smiles that greeted us. We were home. Something still wasn’t right though. I needed to be more involved, to help build up the body of Christ. I prayed about it for many months and got involved slowly in church life, first by reading and leading intercessions, then by volunteering with the Shell Seekers, teaching my first ever Sunday School lesson. My hope for children and young people.

My parents were right — God did have something special for me to do, but God has something special for everyone to do, and I can tell you what it is: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbour as yourself'. (Matt. 22:37-40)

Contact

Phone: 074 7110 1487 
Email: danielle.robertson @stjames-hamptonhill.org.uk
 

Dani with youngsters Dani with youngsters Dani with youngsters