Child Friendly Church Award goes global

Liverpool’s pioneering scheme which recognises churches that take ministry for children and families seriously is taking to the world stage as an example of good practice.

The World Council of Churches (WCC) in partnership with the United Nations Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), has launched a guide for consulting children and young people on what makes a child-friendly church.
Consultations are now taking place around the world to enable the views of children and young people to be heard about the draft document Principles For Child-Friendly Churches which will be presented to the WCC’s governing body in Norway in June. The aim is to get as many churches as possible to adopt the Principles and implement them throughout their congregations.

Sue Mitchell, our Children and Families Missioner, contributed to the consultation guide, which contains suggestions, background materials and templates for consultation around the draft Principles for Child-Friendly Churches.

The Child Friendly Church Award initially began in 2004 and has since been adapted and has evolved to meet the ever changing needs of the parishes we work with.

Sue explained: “The WCC discovered the CFCA process on the internet, and wanted to know more so they rang me quite out of the blue and invited me to speak at a WCC conference in Geneva called A Stronger Voice For Children Rights last November. The CFCA was very warmly received by people from many countries and many took the information back with them.”

Following the success of her conference presentation, the WCC-UNICEF partnership then asked Sue to look at a set of principles for the 0-10 age group. She adapted the wording and methodology to make them more child friendly, and is now encouraging children’s groups in England to take part in the consultation.

Sue said it was ‘incredibly humbling’ to see the Child Friendly Church Award shared worldwide. She added:  ‘I would never have thought in my wildest dreams that our simple scheme may have such an impact for children in other countries. It is a real privilege to be able to share this with others and see it used far more widely to help in creating churches that are genuinely child friendly and safe places for children to be.  

You can download the guide for consultation with children and young people from the World Council of Churches website here - Consultation is open until Monday 2nd May.

Due to the tight timescale, Sue has already contacted all Child Friendly churches in the diocese to arrange visits to discuss the principles with their children and young people.

“I have been delighted at the response I have received, in fact too many to fit in!” Sue said. “I enjoyed a wonderful first visit to the Guides at All Saints Stoneycroft who through a series of activities and discussion shared some incredibly thought provoking views , highlighting just how strong our young people’s views are when it involves their world.”

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