Victoria Boulton is a child-minding assistant and one of the children’s workforce who run Joyous Angels, a movement and music group for under-fives, at the Angel in Langport.
When I left teaching a few years ago, following the death of my father, I was delighted to accept the invitation of a good friend to help her with her child-minding business. A group of mums had recently started Little Angels, a play group, at the church hall, via the Angel in Langport and we found it a wonderfully warm and welcoming place. There was really nothing like it in Langport and it has proved to be a wonderful way of strengthening our community and supporting parents, carers and children.
Over time I found myself helping at the Angel groups more and more one day Revd Jess Pitman (Priest in Charge, Langport Team Ministry), who knew about my background as a primary school teacher and my strengthening faith, asked if I would be interested in starting up Joyous Angels at The Angel, a singing and music group with another committed volunteer. That was just over a year ago and it has been everything I ever wanted. I received such a warm welcome with the support of my fellow children’s workers, and really started to feel part of the community and I wanted to play my part to offer that warm welcome to other families.
Although I was from a Christian family I was not a regular church-goer as I often felt vulnerable and would usually sit and cry in church. Thanks to my involvement at The Angel that has changed and I often take an active part in the family services. Since Little Angels and Joyous Angels have started I have seen a lot more families I come across there start coming to church. They have realised that church is not necessarily just a place to go and be quiet but can a place where families are welcomed. A place where they will be fully embraced and not kept to the back and expected to be quiet. I think it is fair to say that parents feel they are comfortable and valued at these groups and through these community-focused family services.
I know that not all children learn by sitting quietly, so when a child stands up and starts dancing and shaking their maracas while I am telling a story at Joyous Angels, I don’t mind. I draw them in by getting them to help with a noisy part of the story like a lion’s roar! I know they are still engaging with the story, but in their own way. For me, Joyous Angels gives me the opportunity to be flexible and accommodate a child who learns in this way in a way that teaching in a school setting never could.
“There is more joy in heaven when one new person turns to God and changes the way they think and act than over 99 people who have already changed and have God’s approval.”
Joy is such an infectious emotion; something that wells up from a deep place inside and spilling over to those around. Jesus speaks of the joy in heaven when someone discovers that God loves them and wants to have a meaningful relationship with them.
The very name ‘Joyous Angels’ gives a sense of heaven’s overwhelming delight in the relationships that are being created and sustained through the engagement with children and families of Victoria and her colleagues. It makes me smile to imagine the angels in heaven in a splendour of light rejoicing as the Joyous Angels play their maracas. There is such joy in heaven when one new person turns to God in praise.
We first shared Victoria’s story as part of the Bishops’ Lent Appeal 2017