This week we have the opportunity to hear from the Dalby MOPS team. Dalby, a once small rural town three hours west of Brisbane, is embracing change as coal seam gas mining moves into the region. MOPS is uniquely placed to overcome social barriers in the community and provide a safe place for Mums from many backgrounds to meet, learn and be refreshed. Here Bec Hordern talks about MOPS in her home town of Dalby.
Tell us a bit about how MOPS came to be at your church in Dalby?
Bec This was written for me recently by the lady who started MOPS in Dalby (Julie Inskip, the first Coordinator who was then followed by Camille Town, Vicki Law and then myself). “Our pastor became concerned about what we as a church had on offer for under 4s and their parents. We had had a thriving, close knit play group for many years but it was no longer well attended. He called a group of people together and we read and discussed The Purpose Driven Life together. As we did this we also prayed about this area of ministry and began to investigate what other churches did and what was happening in other groups. MOPS was only one of many things we looked at and at first it didn’t appeal to us, but as time went on we kept coming back to it and began to walk the journey of visiting other groups and becoming serious about a group in Dalby. We started a month of prayer to seek God’s will and became convinced of MOPS. We started with a small group who filled more than one position if we needed, but we were quickly joined by others who caught the vision.”
Roughly how many tables and Mums do you have in your MOPS group?
Bec We have increased to 7 tables of 8 ladies in 2013 so we have 56 ladies on the books: 18 from DPC, 12 from other churches and 26 not usually attending or not attending a church at all. And we have a waiting list of about 19 at the moment.
What are some of the challenges that MOPS Dalby faces?
Bec Our biggest challenges would be taking care of the volume of children we get through the group and therefore the need for carers. With 56 mums on the books that equals a lot of children each week. I think we have been averaging 40-50 mums each week so numbers at MOPPETS are never light on.
The waiting list is definitely a challenge. A lot of us don’t even feel we can INVITE people – it’s hard to then tell them well there’s actually a waiting list of 15-20…
Dalby is changing a lot due to the mining boom and we have a lot of lonely ladies moving to town and having their husbands working long hours. Interestingly we are getting more ladies from Buddhist, Hindu and other such backgrounds. We have ladies from Japan, Mauritius, India, Sri Lanka, etc. Dalby is not the little country town it used to be, lots of changes.
What are some of the things that make MOPS Dalby work so well?
Bec I believe MOPS Dalby was set up so well in the very beginning, so the ground work was done extremely thoroughly by Julie Inskip. We were speaking to Marg Sanders at Conference 2012 and she said she was involved in the set up as well and came out to visit and it was all done very much “by the book” which has led to such success. The group is very well supported and encouraged by our chartering church (Dalby Presbyterian Church) and the pastors believe in the ministry and help us out as much as possible. A lot of women from other churches are also involved so our leadership team reflects that, with members from up to 4-5 churches being represented. MOPS has a great name in the community (thus why we have the waiting list we do) and women love to come.
Succession planning also helps, so always looking around to see who you can train up to take over leadership positions in the future.
Retreats are key in Dalby MOPS. We hold ours mid-year as a refresher and encourager to leaders.
We love attending conference and encouraging the whole team to go.
PRAYER is big! We pray fortnightly, so on off-MOPS Tuesdays the whole steering team meets for prayer followed by planning for the coming MOPS morning, plus going over how we are all doing and praying for mums etc. Confidentiality is key too.
Thanks so much to Bec for your insights into the unique role that MOPS plays in Dalby.