Senior Sunday School meets on the 2nd and 3rd Sundays of the month in the St Giles Centre at 9:50am. It is for children aged 8-13 although children may remain in Junior Sunday School until they are ready to move.

Our programme is based on the Gospels being followed in church. We also study themes and occasions which arise throughout the year and which the church celebrates, such as harvest, advent, Christmas etc. We teach through discussion and questioning and provide some time for the children to represent their thoughts creatively, perhaps through craft or poetry.

We believe that we should all try to apply our faith to the world in which we live. Therefore, some time will be spent on helping our young people think about issues around, for example, poverty, the environment or friendships, from a Christian perspective and where possible to practically engage with them.  

For more information please contact our Family and Children’s Worker: Irene Dancer 01689 854765

Our programme is planned termly.  Here is the full programme for Spring Term 2019 (pdf)

My Sunday Mornings with Crossbearers

For many years, the Senior Sunday School, then known as Crossbearers, was run by Jessie Tinham (pictured below), with many able assistants.  Jessie retired in 2018, and has written the following article about her memories.

My first involvement with St. Giles Sunday School must have been in the early 1970’s. At that time, my daughter Gwen was assisting at Sunday School and when studying for her A levels began to impact on her time I offered to help in her place.

Although the Annexe was still there - a substantial timber building rather like a chalet, situated where the New Garden of Remembrance is now - my first experience of Sunday School took place in St. Giles Centre. The Centre then was just one large room with a kitchen sink in the corner and a few metal storage cupboards, no toilets, but the Public Conveniences next door saved the day in that regard. I recall that Rosalie Arney had the little children in one corner, Crossbearers in another corner and the young children in the centre of the room. Came the extension, comprising a large room, kitchen and toilets, it was decided Crossbearers could use the new large room. I was helping Valerie Bailey, and I vividly recall her twin sons, Paul & Andrew, joining Crossbearers, probably aged 8, (they were also in the 1st Farnborough Cub Pack with my daughter who was one of the Leaders). They completed the course in one year – most children took two (or more) years to complete the course.

The Crossbearers Scheme consists of questions to be answered regarding Church matters (one being to draw a map of St. Giles and name the parts), another is to draw a Pulpit (one or two children produced excellent drawings) plus reading and understanding (“Discuss with a teacher”) the Ten Commandments. They read Bible stories and discuss them with the teacher (I especially liked the story of Elisha and the Woman of Shunem, which seems to be a case of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation). In "the Woman of Shunem" they understood that to the mother whose child had died, "speed was of the essence" and I like her phrase to her servant that she wanted to ride to the priest very fast to give him her message as quickly as possible. It was always interesting to discuss the story of The Prodigal Son - as the children fully understood that the younger son wanted to go away and have a good time, and that when his money had all been spent he found he had no friends! They learnt a lot discussing “he fell on hard times" and was "in want". I explained to them that the drought meant that food became more expensive, and what "being joined" meant. They also appreciated how the older brother felt, when the Prodigal Son was welcomed home with a party! They also enjoyed the story of Ruth, who, through her devotion to her elderly mother-in-law, met a good man and eventually they became the Great great great... grandparents to Jesus Christ. All these stories, when discussed, reveal impressive messages. A fun thing for the children to do, by way of a change, was to transcribe the message contained in a drawing (drawn by one of the Bailey twins!) of the flags used at sea, and in fact one of the children told us that when her Dad was on board ship, they found signalling by flags more speedy to use than by electronic means. When a child started at Crossbearers, aged 8 or 9, the first thing to do was to learn and understand The Lord’s Prayer, but before they started I used to say to him/her that “We never fail anybody” so they didn’t have to worry that they may not get it right.

At one time, Valerie Bailey organised an easier form of Crossbearers for children who wanted to "come up" before they were 9 years old by which time they could read well and understand the questions. Called "Junior Crossbearers" this went well and great excitement when they completed it and went on to "Senior Crossbearers"! The Crosses displayed are coloured Blue through to Gold, with the questions being a little harder as they progressed."

Eventually, Valerie gave up Sunday School (only temporarily!) and I had other helpers (can’t remember all their names, but Julie Ely, Shirley Henderson and Fiona Blanchard come to mind) as we then had 20 children at Crossbearers. Incidentally, we teachers were known by our married names, until one cheeky boy (shortly to become my step-grandson) called me by my first (Christian) name! For a time this worked fine but numbers of children began to decrease and then in September 2010 came the introduction of the Parish Office into St Giles Centre taking up most of the Crossbearers’ accommodation, just leaving a small area for us - one boy called it “Jessie’s cupboard”! With fewer children I was able to cope on my own, setting one child to read one of the Bible stories while I discussed another Bible story with another.

Over recent years, numbers attending Crossbearers has dwindled. Many reasons for this, perhaps starting with the great time that the young ones have with Irene Dancer and her team, so much so that as they get older not wanting to leave that environment, then there are many other attractions these days not only for the children, but for the parents as well who would bring them to Sunday School; the impact of school homework, the introduction of the very popular monthly All Age Worship Service when there is no Sunday School and then the rebirth of the Junior Choir which attracted some of my best children which left only two Sundays in the month for possible attendance. That’s a long sentence; almost as long as those often favoured by George Elliot, but thankfully without the long words.

Ah well, I always enjoyed teaching at Crossbearers, so many lovely children, and much to my chagrin I now see adults, some with children of their own, who I taught at Crossbearers Sunday School. One delightful memory is of the boy (now grown up!) coming to me and saying that, now he was going to Secondary School, he would have too much homework to be able to come to Crossbearers! A good excuse if ever there was one.

Jessie Tinham 2018