A church-run group which organises nursery rhyme singalongs for under-fives has been dropped from a West Sussex library for mentioning God in some of its songs.
Despite being a popular monthly fixture at the Burgess Hill library for eight years, the Noah’s Ark group has been told it can no longer run ‘Rhyme Time’ events at the site.
The group performed songs like Mr Noah Built an Ark, and God Has Made a Rainbow.
West Sussex County Council said it would continue to run Rhyme Time without input from religious groups, and that the session run by Noah’s Ark would be taken over by library staff.
It claimed it made the decision after feedback from some families, and said all of its sessions were “open to everyone including families of any faith or no faith”.
But parents of children who regularly attended the Noah’s Ark Rhyme Time were left angry and disappointed by the decision.
Dad Charlie Burrell said: “At the playgroup last Thursday they informed the parents that they are no longer allowed to perform at Rhyme time as a couple of songs mention God.
“I myself was horrified to hear this news as I have enjoyed their Rhyme Time sessions for years with my children and I know so many other parents have too.
“How can an organisation that brings people joy, especially to children, be discriminated against in this way? I cannot imagine how anyone could find this offensive.”
‘Hard to believe’
Mum-of-two Laura Kelly said: “I find it hard to believe. We’re really upset and horrified because our children have enjoyed it.
“Noah’s Ark have volunteered at the group for eight years. They were really upset too and hurt by it all and won’t come back unless they are asked to by the library.”
Gemma Hinkins added: “It’s ridiculous, my kids have always loved them at Rhyme Time. They are giving up their own time to do something nice for the local kids. If people don’t like it, don’t go.”
Continuing to serve
The King’s Church Mid-Sussex, which runs the Noah’s Ark group, said: “We are sad that our involvement in Baby Rhyme Time is coming to an end after eight years. It has been a well-loved, free group for people in the local area.”
But it promised it would continue to do all it could to serve the local community.