At each stop on the walk there will be a story and an activity. Worksheets for children to use during the walk need to be downloaded and printed off at school and brought with you.
Story Five: Charles Simeon (1759–1836)
When he came to King’s College as a student, he had never really thought about his faith and being a Christian. But he came so close to God when he was here in this chapel that it changed his life. He got a job at Holy Trinity church, just up the street, opposite WH Smith. He still lived in college, and his rooms were in the building next to the chapel. You will see his window when we go back outside. Just above there is a staircase to the roof. Charles used to go up onto the roof at four o’clock every morning to pray. And he had a lot to pray about!
The congregation at Holy Trinity church didn’t want him to be their vicar. They wanted the assistant to their old vicar to be the next vicar. They wanted a vicar who would tell them funny stories and entertain them. They didn’t want someone who would tell them to change their lives and live like Jesus. Charles didn’t mind being different. He was the first person in Cambridge to use an umbrella, and was very recognisable as he walked to church.
The people who went to Holy Trinity did everything to stop Charles from doing his job. They shouted abuse at him in the street. When he walked past the market, people used to throw rotten fruit and vegetables at him. Once they even locked him out of the church! But he just went and got a locksmith to let him in. He carried on with his services, even when students started throwing bricks through the window.
Charles just kept going up to the roof every morning to pray. Gradually people realised that he had something important to say. More and more people started coming to Holy Trinity, and he changed their lives. Students started coming to hear him preach. He became famous for his preaching, and wrote a book of ideas for talking about all 66 books of the Bible. Charles held tea parties in his room in college, and he taught the students about preaching and answered their questions about God whilst he served them tea and cakes. Many of the students became priests and missionaries. His teapot is still at Holy Trinity church.
Charles preached so much that he wore his voice out. For 13 years he could only talk in a quiet voice, but that didn’t stop him! People just had to listen hard! But when he was 60, amazingly, his voice came back, and he preached loudly for the next 17 years.
Charles didn’t just talk to people about God, he showed them God’s love through his actions. When he started at Holy Trinity, he went to visit every member of his congregation. Most of them shut the door in his face.
He kept on visiting! He got to know the children, and taught them about Jesus. Next time he came to visit, he tested the children on what he had taught them last time. Charles found out who was in need, and gave money to help them. He realised that there were so many people who needed visiting that he couldn’t go often enough, so he set up a team of visitors to care help him care for his congregation – this is something no one had ever done before.
Once, there was a shortage of bread, and it became too expensive for many people to buy. Charles paid for bread so it could be sold it at half price to the poor. It was the middle of a really cold winter, and every Monday Charles rode on his horse to 24 villages around Cambridge, making sure the bakers were selling the bread at half price. He helped to stop 7,000 people from starving to death!
Charles Simeon refused to give up. He stayed at Holy Trinity for 54 years – to the end of his life. When he died, his congregation really appreciated him, and people who had been inspired by him were working all over the country, and even across the world. His idea of having teams of people visiting and caring and finding out who is in need continues in churches today.
Activity Five: Memory Verses
When Charles Simeon preached, he always used the Bible as his starting point. When he visited the children in their homes, he taught them verses from the Bible and tested them.
Children will be split into groups and each groups will be given a memory verse from the Bible. They will need to help each other learn the verse. There is a sheet they can use to copy out your verse to help them learn it, or draw some symbols to help you remember.
1. Jesus said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew chapter 18, verse 3
2. Jesus said: “Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew chapter 18, verses 4–5
3. Jesus said: “Let the little children come to me, and do not forbid them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Matthew chapter 19, verse 14
4. Train up a child in the way he should go; and even when he is old he will not turn from it.
Proverbs chapter 22,verse 6
5. It is sung by children and babies; you are safe and secure from your enemies.
Psalm 8, verse 2
6. The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat … and a little child will lead them.
Isaiah chapter 11, verse 6
7. Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.
Colossians chapter 3, verse 20