How City Harvest Church’s Nursery Ministry allows new parents to attend church service with peace of mind.
Contributed By Gareth Yeo
Ever wonder why you hardly ever hear the cries of babies going off in the middle of service or see toddlers wandering around in the middle of the sermon? It’s all thanks to the hard work put in by the team of volunteers from City Harvest Church’s nursery ministry.
The ministry was started in 1995 when CHC was located at Hollywood Theatre along Tanjong Katong Road. At that time, a handful of members were starting families, and there was a need for someone to take care of their toddlers and babies so these members could attend service.
Responding to this need, CHC’s pastoral team decided to convert two rooms at the back of the auditorium into nurseries. Known as the creche ministry then, the name was later changed to the nursery ministry to better reflect the role and responsibilities of the ministry. Since then, the ministry has developed in a tremendous way.
Shirley Yeo, 69, is the nursery supervisor in CHC and one of the pioneers of this group, who helped develop the ministry over the last 16 years. She says, “The nursery ministry has transformed from two small and bare rooms from Hollywood days to five fully facilitated, spacious and conducive rooms today. Our volunteers are also better trained and equipped with the essential knowledge of infant care.”
Nursery and childcare manager, Chia Ting Ting, 38, said, “We have come a long way since our humble beginnings. But the key focus of the ministry remains the same, that is, to help parents take care of their babies and toddlers while they listen to or attend service.”
SERVING THE CHURCH
Members and friends of CHC who venture into Hall 603 in Suntec Singapore will have the opportunity to utilize this service for parents. To better cater to the needs of both parents and their children, each room is equipped with the necessary facilities according to the designated age groups, from newborns to toddlers. For example, rooms for newborns come with cubicles so nursing mothers can breastfeed in private.
In addition, all five nursery rooms are equipped with a television set, which allows parents to follow the service while caring for their child. Basic sleeping necessities like mattresses and blankets are also provided, as well as warmers, a fridge for breastmilk storage and hot water.
Babies who are fed are easier to take care of as they can usually sleep peacefully throughout the service. According to ministry volunteer Thin Seow Ping, 44, a homemaker, toddlers who have short attention spans pose more of a challenge as helpers have to find ways to keep them entertained.
Thin also shares some of the challenges she and her co-ministry workers face from the unpredictable behavior from the young ones. She says, “We have a collection of age-appropriate toys to keep the young ones occupied throughout the two-hour service. However, some of the older toddlers are very energetic and will run out of the nursery rooms, or they will scratch each other and fight over toys. As such, it’s our job to keep the toddlers safe and to teach the kids good values like sharing.”
There are also stringent guidelines on keeping the facilities and equipment hygienic, as babies and toddlers are susceptible to infections. To ensure maximum attention in this area and a germ-free environment, Chia emphasizes that mattress covers are changed and every toy is wiped with sterile sheets after every service.
A REWARDING MINISTRY
Currently, the nursery ministry has a rotating team of volunteers taking care of about 115 babies and toddlers every weekend. The volunteers are divided into three main groups: nursery support workers, service ICs and mothercare support workers.
The duties of the nursery support worker include feeding and carrying the babies, as well as changing soiled diapers. She must also ensure that the room is injury-free and clean for the babies and toddlers. The service ICs plan the duty roster for the volunteers, and get the nursery rooms ready before every service. Duties include boiling water, setting up mattresses, cleaning toys, as well as replenishing necessities such as tissues and sterile sheets.
Last but not least, there are the mothercare support workers, who provide a listening ear and advice to new mothers and their families before, during and following childbirth.
Chia shares that while the nursery ministry is challenging, it has many rewarding moments too. “It warms our hearts when we see the babies grow day by day and progress to toddlers and finally move on to children’s church when they reach two years old. Many of the toddlers who started in nursery have also become good friends.”
The ministry does not neglect the needs of the parents either. They have set up a Parent Support Group, where new mums and dads can fellowship and share parenting tips. Many bonds and friendships have been formed as a result.
Annie Chi, 30, a new mom who has been bringing her daughter Enya to the nursery for 18 months, appreciates CHC providing such a facility.
Chi says, “The nursery room has become a familiar place for my daughter and the whole family. It’s a place where my whole family come together to worship God. When Enya hears the praise songs, she will automatically lift up her hands to worship with the rest of us.”
As the number of babies and toddlers in CHC grows, the Nursery Ministry needs more volunteers to join this challenging but rewarding ministry. If you are a woman who enjoys taking care of babies, and you have been attending service and cell group regularly for at least a year, please lend a helping hand. Training will be provided.
CHC’s nursery facility is located in Hall 603, Suntec Singapore.
Baby Rooms 1 and 2
For breastfeeding babies age 0 to 12 mths from Main Church
Baby Room 3
For crawlers age 9 to 15 months from Main Church
Baby Room 4
For toddlers age 16 and 24 months old from Main Church
Baby Room 5
Babies and toddlers 0 to 24 months from Chinese Church
The nursery facilities are open an hour before the worship service starts; and 30 minutes after the service ends.