There’s more than just melodies on offer for the families who come through the door at one of the many Lutheran church-based mainly music sessions. Alongside the fun of the engaging songs, music and movement is an atmosphere of true community, one that offers support, sharing, ministry and even meals. It’s not only parents that attend with their children, grandparents also often bring their grandchildren and enjoy the connections that the program fosters.
South Australia has the highest number of Lutheran churches offering mainly music sessions in the country – 13 churches in total are involved so far. Each session is aimed at babies, toddlers, preschoolers and their families, and is based around the five mainly music core values of generosity, connection, celebration, creativity and honour. God is at the center of the mainly music ethos, and days begin with the leaders in prayer, before the families arrive. Faith elements are also incorporated into the music time, with church volunteers on hand to help with everything from providing and serving ‘coffee and calories’ (as one group has coined their morning tea), to lending their expertise in crafts and activities, cooking emergency meals to provide to those in need and more. Most sessions run for 90 minutes, with half an hour of structured music and learning, followed by an hour of eating, chatting and play time.
Jane Hill is the mainly music co-leader at St Marks Lutheran Church in Mount Barker. A former early-childhood teacher, Jane has had connections with mainly music for nearly two decades through her children and grandchildren, but only recently started as a leader in 2022. At 67 years old Jane says she thought the role might be beyond her, but ‘God knew better’.
‘I love that we are connecting with the children and families and are free to share Jesus when appropriate through our words, through music and our actions,’ says Jane. ‘I love seeing the connection that occurs immediately. Sometimes a new family arrives and you can’t see that they’re new, because they connect straight away.’
The sessions are open to all in the community, and of the 32 families currently registered at Mount Barker only three are current members from the St Marks church congregation. With new families attending and babies being born (at least nine have been added to the Mount Barker mainly music ranks in the last 18 months) Jane says it is rewarding to be part of a group that is growing and maturing together, and that provides a safe and inclusive environment for connection and friendship as well as a pathway to faith and pastoral care.
‘I guess mainly music provides that opportunity for members of the community to connect. Mount Barker is a growing regional area of Adelaide and families are seeking activities for their young children to attend. Definite friendships are forming each week. And the best thing of all, families are given a chance to think about the God-part of life.’
This year the Mount Barker group has had great success with their themed sessions, the most recent being ‘water’. One mum reported that her son, who was previously afraid of the bath, experienced a turnaround after Freddie, the group’s mascot teddy bear, ‘explained’ during a session why water was nothing to be worried about. Freddie has since been sent home with a family each week, and his adventures documented in a journal.
Mother’s Day activities also proved a hit, with children arranging blooms in a ‘flower shop’, using flowers, floral foam and ribbons donated by members of the church congregation. Church members also cooked 26 shepherd’s pies that were packaged up and given to the families who attended the mainly music session as a ‘night off from cooking’ Mother’s Day gift.
Photo: Making bouquets for Mothers Day. Image courtesy Jane Hill.