Open the Book – a new venture in King’s Beck Benefice
13 February 2023
Eight rural parishes + two community schools = one Open the Book Team + lots of fun.
Open the Book (OtB) is an Ofsted-approved way of teaching key stories from the Bible. Each story is around 10-15 minutes long and offers primary school children and their teachers an opportunity to listen, learn and engage.
The King’s Beck Benefice has a well-established relationship between its churches and schools. However, only a few children attend services on Sundays. The Revd Julia Chamberlin, a parishioner of the Kings Beck Benefice and current member of the Diocesan Children, Youth, and Families team felt that Open the Book could be the perfect way to increase Bible teaching in the local area.
Revd Julia was kind enough to let us know how they are getting on. Below she shares her story:
While rural areas face certain challenges, they also offer many opportunities: ours were in schools and in the community. Having been part of launching Open the Book teams in the Diocese of Ely I knew its potential, but would it work here in King’s Beck? Would anyone want to be in a team? Would the schools open their doors to us?
“We have an extra announcement this week” was my cue to ask the church if anyone would like to join me in founding our first Open the Book team. By the time I had finished my last sip of post-service coffee, we had a team of nine.
We started by making a list of everything that needed to be done before presenting our first story:
- Contact the schools to discuss regular visits
- Arrange training – share the training with others who want to learn too
- Ensure we are all DBS checked
- Make it official – register as an Open the Book team with the Bible Society
- Gather props – check the handbook and website for ideas
- Buy our Bibles and handbooks
- Drink coffee together and pray
After a good rummage around our homes and charity shops, we had enough props to get started. Other church members and distant friends helped by knitting, stitching, and praying. We were able to borrow a puppet screen, together with puppets and amazing costumes from the Diocesan Resource Centre in Easton.
With a huge dash of team resourcefulness, which I had no idea we possessed, we were ready for our launch, and it was only the second week of January!
Opening Bob Hartman’s Storyteller Bible twice a week has become a special part of our ministry. Headteachers smile and join us for every story.
One Headteacher said: “You light up the school as you bring your smiles and stories”.
After the story of Adam and Eve one little boy called out, “It wasn’t the girl’s fault, it was that snake!”
Another said: “Thank you for coming…can I help with a story next week?”
Each of our team brings something unique to the presentations. We are so thankful for the privilege of sharing God’s story with so many children.
If you’re interested in starting a local Open the Book team, then please do get in contact with our Children, Youth and Families team on firstname.lastname@example.org.