My Ministry: Hot chocolate and friendship

Looking for a way to help her son fit in, Shelley Phipps created a club that connected church and community.

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Shelley Phipps.

“We were new at church, our kids attended public school and we wanted them to fit in,” said Shelley Phipps, a member of Kellyville Seventh-day Adventist Church. “I noticed my son in particular was struggling to make friends and I wanted to help him connect with the other kids in a meaningful way.”

Shelley and her husband Gus discussed how they could make this happen and spoke to Sharyn Harrington, who was the children’s ministry pastor at the time. As a team, they decided to create a club for children in Years 4 to 6 that would meet at the church once a month on Friday nights. They called this club the Hot Chocolate Club, and served hot chocolate and cookies for the kids in addition to organising activities and special messages for them.

“We talked about relevant topics that the kids were dealing with such as bullying and how to prepare for high school,” said Shelley.

The club started off with just 10 children and grew rapidly. Approximately 30 children now attend and the majority of them are non-Adventists who either attend the Adventist school or live locally.

Seeing the value that the club provides, other church members now volunteer and help out.

“My son now has a great core group of friends inside and outside of church,” said Shelley. “It’s also been a wonderful way to connect with our local community and get to know them as friends. Some of them have actually ‘graduated’ from our club and started high school but still come on Friday nights to serve the next generation.”