Children and Families at the University Church

Babies, children, and families are an incredibly important part of our community at the University Church. Each week there is a crêche space available for parents to use with their children, in the Newman Room at the back of the Church, with easy access to toilet and baby changing facilities. Parents are welcome to use this space throughout the service, or as a respite space if a child gets restless. We want you to relax and feel very much at home at St Mary's.

We offer a range of learning opportunities for different age groups. In the context of the current pandemic, our range of activities is necessarily restricted but if you would like to find out more about our plans for the future, please contact the Vicar:

Godly Play (3-8)

We are delighted to have children worshipping with us at St Mary’s at the 10.30am service. A selection of toys and books are available in the Newman Room (behind the glass brick wall) next door to the baby changing facilities. Godly Play takes place monthly in the Old Library on the first Sunday of the month during the first 45 minutes of the 10.30am Sung Eucharist. It is particularly suitable for children aged 3-8 years old and their families.

Youth Discussion Group (11-18)

On the third Sunday of each month (except major festivals), a Discussion Group meets for young people aged 11 to 18. We leave the main service at the Gloria or Kyrie, and meet in the Vaults Café for hot chocolate, and a topical discussion - no topic is off limits! We rejoin the main service in time for Communion. Older children are also invited to get involved in the main service each Sunday by stewarding or serving. Find out more by visiting the Youth Discussion Group page

If you have any questions, including about getting involved with the serving team, contact the Church office at

Godly Play: The Cause of Our Wonder

Laura White launched Godly Play for our children and young people in 2021


One of the greatest gifts of childhood is the ability to wonder. From the clouds that roll across the sky to the mechanics of a bicycle, children approach the world enthusiastically ready to learn. Unfortunately for some people, wonder begins to fade when they encounter routinized learning contexts. How might the church help people maintain and grow their sense of wonder as they learn about God? Godly Play is an approach to Christian education based around wonder. Each session begins with a story – but not a story read by a teacher or in a book. Instead, Godly Play stories use beautifully crafted materials – including wooden figures, sweeping sand “deserts,” and bead “pearls” – to draw children visually and sensorially into the narrative, which a storyteller recalls from memory. At the end of each story, children are invited to wonder with questions like, “I wonder what part of the story we could take out and still have all we need?” and “I wonder where you were in that story?” Sometimes children share their responses with the group, but always children are invited to reflect on the story by working with the materials or using art materials available. After a period of wondering using the materials, the children have a communal feast together, mirroring the routines they see in the service. By cultivating a sense of wonder, Godly Play not only builds familiarity with the core stories of our tradition, but also builds comfort with not knowing or understanding all the answers to Christianity’s big questions. Godly Play teaches, in fact, that there is curiosity, play, and community in revisiting the big questions, again and again, sometimes with new insights emerging. How might we all approach our journey with God with more wonder?