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Blenheim ministries teach values, share memories

The two congregations in the Blenheim Methodist parish have ministries that focus on opposite ends of the life span.

John's Patch Story Room is an initiative of Wesley Church that seeks to use the ancient art of story telling to share values with children and families. At the other end of the spectrum, Rev Judith Parkes of Springlands Church has focused her efforts on ministering to the aged population in the seven rest homes clustered in her parish.

Rev Gloria Zander says John's Patch Story Room does not compete with traditional Sunday school but uses stories that aren't Biblically based to provide a forum where children can develop life skills and values.

In February Wesley Church used storyteller Elizabeth Miller of Invercargill (know professionally as Dreamweaver) as a "high-impact" artist to launch John's Patch. With the success of that initial trial the congregation has now hired local storyteller, Tracy Null to front the story room on a weekly basis.

"John's Patch Story Room takes place on Sundays 9:30-11a.m and targets five to 11 year olds. We encourage parents to come along with their children and most of those who attend are not involved in worship communities," Gloria says.

"We try to convey values such as kindness and respect in an interactive way. One of our stories was the Maori myth of how the rainbow came into being. Along with discussing the impact of rainbows, children made rainbows to wear."

While children discover life's values in John' Patch Story Room, in rest homes some of our older citizens face life with fading memories. To provide comfort to the elderly and confused Judith Parkes has opened her ministry to people with Alzheimer's disease.

She is the only minister in Marlborough who takes services in the secure areas of rest homes where Alzheimer patients are housed and people with Alzheimer's also attend her services at Springlands.

"A choir of 10 women come with me when we take services in the rest homes. We sing the old songs and I always recite the 23rd Psalm. Often people have distant memories and can remember the old hymns.

"When someone with Alzheimer's attends services in the church and they begin to move around one of the members of the congregation walks with them until they settle down."