On 1 February, hundreds of children and their families gathered at St. Paul’s Cathedral to engage in one of London’s largest Messy Church events of the year.

Messy Cathedral is organised annually between the Diocese of London Children and Youth team and the Schools and Family Learning team at St Paul’s Cathedral. Between St Paul’s partner organisations and the Messy Church leaders who volunteered to run a stand, an exciting range of creative and fun activities was offered. Throughout the morning, families engaged with 17 unique stations offering family-centric crafts, activities and experiments, before ending with a “Messy Eucharist” service.

The theme this year was “The Journey of Paul”, exploring the story of St. Paul, the journeys he took and the idea of pilgrimage.

Our friends at Westminster Abby got people making original badges that would have been collected by those on pilgrimages and helped people create their own personal pilgrimage badge. The Schools and Family learning team were creating stop-frame animations on an iPad, where families could tell the story of Paul in their own creative way.

Messy Church volunteers from churches across London offered their own creative exploits: origami boat making, science experiments like invisible ink letters, sensory ‘storm’ bottles and maze making!

The morning also featured tours of the cathedral, engaging storytelling sessions and the formation of a ‘scratch choir’ run by Tom Daggett, who helped lead our sung worship throughout the Messy Eucharist.

The Rt Revd Rob Wickham, the Bishop of Edmonton, presided over the Eucharist and led the service with infectious enthusiasm and joy, helping all ages engage in the Eucharist, regardless of their tradition. Tourists who otherwise would have been engaging with the normal timetable at St Paul’s Cathedral seemed surprised and delighted by what was taking place, with several obvious groups joining in the fun! Seeing families gathered around the alter as Bishop Rob blessed the bread and wine with children craning their necks to see what was happening, was a precious occasion.

A huge thank you to all the volunteers who ran crafts and activities at Messy Cathedral, bringing all their resources and expertise with them and cleaning up at the end! And of course, thank you to all the families who came and made it such an exciting event.

If you missed out this year, don’t worry: Messy Cathedral will return on 6 February 2021 for another jam-packed morning of family fun. Mark it on the calendar and tell your friends!