Meet Hannah Tarring, Messy Church Writers and Readers team member
Hannah Tarring and Messy Church
Hannah Tarring is based in Melksham, Wiltshire, where she is Children and Families Coordinator for a group of three Anglican churches, as well as coordinator of the ecumenically run Messy Church. She is also a busy volunteer with Messy Church more widely.
Since November last year, Hannah has been at the heart of a major reorganisation of Messy Church’s support structure in which the emphasis has moved from locally based regional coordinators to specialist teams who are available to Messy Churches all over the country, regardless of geography. The new teams reflect the nine areas in which support is most often requested by Messy Churches and include the Getting Going team, the Advocates team, the Alongsiders team, the Admin Team, the Trainers team, and the Writers and Readers team. Click here for details of all the teams.
Hannah trained with the Centre of Youth and Mission (CYM) in Oxford. She moved to her job in Melksham when she qualified and has been involved in Messy Church ever since:
‘They did have a Messy Church up and running prior to my arrival but it was run by the Anglican team and in terms of the volunteers it had more or less wound down. So now we run a Messy Church ecumenically, and that’s a great way to join with all the other churches in Melksham. In normal times we meet once a month, on the fourth Sunday, in one of the local schools on a new housing estate. That started in 2017 as a relaunch. It’s quite a challenge to draw lines in my work. My work in Melksham is paid and my work with Melksham Messy Church is paid but in terms of the wider Messy Church and my work in the new teams is all voluntary.’
In ‘normal’ times the Melksham Messy Church is very popular:
‘We get a lot of families! In terms of people, it’s over a hundred people every time. It always has been very well attended and that shows how it’s really needed in the community. Because it’s free it’s a real draw for families, and there’s also a meal which is another big draw for families.’
‘I’m the main coordinator and then we have volunteers from the churches in the town. We do have quite a few volunteers, though I don’t know how many we’ll have when get out of this present situation. Now we’re more established we’re also getting a few parents and carers offering to help as well and that’s really great; that’s what church is about isn’t it, everyone working together. I’m hoping that will continue and that we’ll be able to involve more of the families in the running of Messy Church and help them to feel they have ownership of it. That’s the plan!’
Before the reorganisation, Hannah was the Wiltshire Regional Coordinator for Messy Church but now she’s on two of the new teams:
‘We were given a list of the different teams that were being created and asked to let Lucy know which ones we were drawn to. So, I’m on Writers and Readers team and the Specialist team. So, for example, I would specialise in, say, working on new housing estates, and supporting families in general. If anyone wanted help or in those areas, they would come to me.’
Major change can be unsettling, so how does Hannah feel about the reorganisation?
‘It has been really exciting! I think having the more focused teams will be really beneficial for Messy Church. I can’t speak for other members of the teams but I feel that our particular skills are being harnessed a bit more. We’re on teams that we’re really passionate about and that we have an interest in. It was good before, but I think that the new structure will help to equip Messy Churches more efficiently, and that it will encourage and empower them because it’s clearer what we can do for them. I want Messy Churches to know that they’re not alone and that they can ask for support when and where they need it. I hope it will enable Messy Churches to reach out more.