In 1999 Christine Thomas was appointed as a ‘Schools and Community Worker’ at Bethesda Baptist Church, Rogerstone, in Newport. Her work in schools began as a small group started to lead assemblies in three local primary schools. Very quickly doors began to open into other schools, and the work expanded to include other activities such as lunchtime and afterschool clubs, event exhibitions, Christian Unions, R.E. lessons and the brilliant ‘Bible Explorer’ schools programme.
Soon it became necessary to involve other churches in the area to meet demand. It was also apparent that other similar small groups existed elsewhere, and consideration was given to the idea of coordinating them and bringing them together under one umbrella, to meet the increasing demands of safeguarding and insurance policies, as well as to provide mutual support, prayer, training and encouragement. After a meeting with Exeter ‘ICE’ project (Initiatives in Christian Education) we began to think in terms of forming ‘ICE Wales’. After much discussion, consultation and prayer ICE Wales was finally formed in December 2002.
In the years since then God has richly and graciously blessed this work. We have employed a schools worker for the Swansea area and many churches have provided volunteers to meet the ongoing demand for Christian input from schools around South Wales. The supporter base for ICE Wales has grown and we are now supported by 15 member churches and Christian organisations. Most importantly, numerous hours have been spent face to face with children in school, passing on and exploring the stories of the Bible to those who may never hear them elsewhere. This has been, and remains, the very heart of what we do.
In 2019 we developed a partnership with Village Hope and as a result of this joint project were able to employ a schools worker for the South Eastern part of Wales.
Laura Toomer’s remit is to support volunteers and churches in village communities, developing new teams that will offer ongoing assemblies, clubs and lesson programmes in their local school. Village Hope has a concern for Christian outreach in rural areas, and recognises that ministry in schools is a wonderful opportunity currently open to us. ICE Wales now has many years experience of working in schools, and the aim is to continue this work in the years to come.