From beginning to end with Open the Book

Published on: 1 January 2017

The bible is full of stories of people who entered into ministry later in life. With more people now aged over 60 than under 18 in the UK, what role do older people have to play in relating to the younger generation? Irene Nickerson talks about her role as Open the Book Coordinator for Norfolk.

Prior to retiring from my role in a primary school as a Year 1 teacher, SENCO and RE Co-ordinator, I knew I could not envisage being without a project. That prompted me to explore and train to deliver Open the Book (OTB). For the past seven years I have provided initial training to others and support OTB volunteers across Norfolk.

One of the things that I became very aware of early on was that OTB was a form of mission. It’s a good way for me to share my faith with other people and OTB is a positive way of ensuring that children at least hear the story of the Bible.

The great thing is that it helps to build community links between churches and schools. Working with both young and old is invigorating. I have met adults at training days that have never told or read anyone a story before, but they come open to trying something different and we have a lot of fun trying to remember stories and appreciating different versions of storytelling. Individual teams from parishes or groups of churches then get the experience of preparing stories together regularly and once you start going into school the children quickly recognise you when you are out and about where you live!

The children love OTB and they sidle up to you to ask if they can be a part of the picture for the story. They bring their own creativity to the storytelling. It amazes me that they remember details from stories that have not been told for many months. It prompts their curiosity to ask questions: “Are all the stories connected?” “Are these stories before Jesus was born?”

Working with young people is such a privilege; it’s not about having all the answers. Sometimes we offer a sympathetic ear, advice or reassurance, but at the end of the day young and old are just people with more or less experience of the world and each with their unique perspective to share – we can all learn from each other.

I have observed changes in some people as they have taken on OTB and gained confidence. However old you are chronologically, you are rarely that old in your head! Some of our team were in their 80s when we first began and they felt innovative and useful. Ultimately, when all – young or old – are focussed on one shared interest or goal, age is irrelevant. Everyone has something they can offer, however small.

Open the Book is led by adults from local churches and school children are involved in the storytelling. The adults have all they need in scripted materials for an introduction, quiet time, prayer and the story. If you enjoy being part of a team, want to ensure that the children in your parish hear the story of the Bible in an exciting and interactive way, find out more by contacting Irene Nickerson at verar.avpxrefba@ewg.pb.hx

This article is from...

Articles in this issue...

Spiritual gifts in later life

"I believe that spirituality is very much part of my religion, my faith, my meaning, my understanding, and spirituality lifts me and aids me in my everyday work."


Monday Mardle at Saxlingham Nethergate

Corinne Douglas and Celia Blyth are archetypal "third agers": in their early 70's, active, committed members of their parish church. Twelve years ago they saw a need in their community and decided to do something about it.


Volunteering is good for everyone!

Giving just a little of your time can make a big difference, not only to those you’re helping but to yourself too. A May 2012 study by the Royal Voluntary Service (formerly the WRVS) found that volunteering in later life decreased depression and social isolation. It was also found to boost quality of life and life satisfaction. For us as Christians, it’s also encouraged in the Bible: “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)


God’s grace perseveres through our ages and stages

When I was asked to contribute this comment, it was a shock to realise that I had been numbered as one of the Elect of the Third Age - but of course, that’s what I am, with a fair number of All Hallows’ Community.


700 and still counting

What a beautiful place! … this is a ‘must see’ when in Norwich. Very welcoming, from the moment we stepped through the door … were greeted by a guide with information and a very welcome leaflet (I love a leaflet!). Trip Advisor October 2016


Building an intergenerational culture in your church

For many it seems society is becoming ever more divided and more insular and we are losing the ability to communicate – especially across intergenerational boundaries. Toddlers, Teenagers, Generation X, 3rd Generation – all these terms divide up our communities, putting them in boxes that mean we plan activities by age – young people in schools, older people in retirement homes.


The Gift of Years

As more churches seek to respond to the challenges of a rapidly ageing population, The Bible Reading Fellowship’s The Gift of Years ministry signposts ways in which our later years can be more spiritually fertile, and infinitely more fulfilling.


Face to Faith – Val Dodsworth

Val has been involved in the rehabilitation of offenders for most of her life. After 20 years in the Probation Service and five in the chaplaincy in Norwich Prison, in December 2000 she started the House of Genesis (A place for a new start) by welcoming homeless men into her own home.


From generation to generation – learning life lessons

Biddy Collyer had been living alone in a two bedroomed house in Norwich city centre for 15 years and during that time had a number of lodgers, all male. Last year she knew that a young friend from church, Suze Rose, wanted to move from Dereham where she had been working and living with her parents since leaving University. Biddy invited her to move in while she completed her training as a Beauty Therapist. Twelve months on, the reflect on an experience of house-sharing across generations.


Talkin’ ’bout my generation

Contrary to what many rock starts expected, they did not die before they got old, and our churches nowadays contain many from the rock generation. Some of them are in leadership positions. Time Lenton explores the concept of the "boomer" Christians.


Keep up to date

Subscribe to our eNews for a snapshot of news, events and resources, usually emailed once a fortnight

Signup to newsletter