Christian Aid Week 2017: Working in Lebanon

‘Having fled disaster and conflict and forced to seek refuge in nearby Lebanon, these young Syrian refugees are unable to access formal schooling. Through Christian Aid partners, JCC, we’re managing to keep their dreams of an education alive. To learn more – or support Christian Aid Week 2017 – go to http://caweek.org

Lebanon: Reporting on our work with Syrian refugees

‘Máiréad Collins has visited Lebanon and seen for herself the impact Christian Aid’s work is having on refugees from the devastating conflict in Syria. Christian Aid was set up after World War II to help displaced people in Europe. Since then – and thanks to generations of supporters – we’ve been there for many of the world’s poorest and most marginalised communities as they’ve struggled against adversity. Please give what you can this Christian Aid Week by going to http://caweek.org Thank you.’

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Christian Aid Week 2017: Helping the stranger

‘At Christian Aid, as part of the church, we hear the commandment to ‘love the stranger’, that Jesus repeated in words and lived in deeds. Hospitality to strangers speaks of the deep welcome of God to all people.
Faith also demands that we are never content with addressing an emergency, but we also want to ask why it happens, and what we can do to find a longer term response.
And faith keeps us hoping, and imagining a future world where love has no borders and no bounds.
To find out more about Christian Aid Week 2017 – and how you can help those seeking safety and solace, go to: http://caweek.org Thank You.’

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Christian Aid Week 2017: 14-20 May

This week is Christian Aid Week. Sixty years after the first Christian Aid Week, the focus is on refugees:

“We’ve been there for refugees since 1945. We won’t turn our backs now.”

In yesterday’s Sunday service, we heard the story of Ruth and Naomi and reflected on the lives of refugees then and now. Donation envelopes were distributed, to be collected at next week’s service. If you didn’t receive one, or can’t be at next Sunday’s service, you can donate online at www.christianaid.org.uk/christian-aid-week

All this week we’ll be posting videos from Christian Aid, with refugee stories and the background to this year’s campaign. Please give generously.

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May 2017

speech bubblesDear Friends,

Greetings.

So, Holy week and Easter Sunday are once more behind us and we are now in the Easter Season where we continue to celebrate the resurrection and wait expectantly for Pentecost.

Somehow this year has been a bit different for me knowing that it’s my last Easter here and that I will be ‘surplus to requirements’ next year. This has brought a new dimension to my preparations. I feel split into many pieces at the moment – working full time, getting started on renovating our own house, packing up the manse and finding new homes for half the contents as well as preparing to hand over to Dee. There are also numerous special services as ‘it’s my last year’. This could be a very interesting three months. However, I’m determined to stay focused and make the most of every moment I have in this circuit with you.

At Easter, I thought I’d take a look at what our esteemed leaders were saying. Pope Francis condemned violence (‘vile’ attacks, he called them), discrimination and new forms of slavery. He also, rather movingly, prayed for all those trying to bring comfort and relief to people who need it most while criticising ‘paralysing and barren bureaucracies’ – he doesn’t mince his words.

The Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury also spoke of those who face pain and distress, grief and death, but reminded us that Christianity is not ‘fake news’. Very apt considering Donald, sorry President, Trump’s outbursts on the subject.

This year, Theresa May joined in with her own words of wisdom reminding us that 6 out of 10 Britons class themselves as Christian (where are they, I wonder?). For her, the true meaning of Easter is about sacrifice and suffering being transformed into new life; it’s a festival of grief, self-examination and ultimately hope and redemption. This is a time to come together and work for unity.

Jeremy Corbyn (‘my faith is a personal matter’) asked us to contemplate the injustices going on in the world and the challenges we face in this country. He said ‘it would be easy to retreat into our own private lives because the challenges seem overwhelming, or allow ourselves to divide and blame others, but we need to respond to these challenges head on. Jesus’ example of love and sacrifice and the Easter message of redemption and peace.’

Tim Fallon (Lib Dem, also a Christian) pointed out that the Easter message is radical and disturbing.

I found all this quite encouraging; different people with different roles in our society all saying things that we can agree with. However, it struck me how un-multicultural this group of people are. I suppose that’s to be expected but perhaps we need to hear more of a diverse voice on these things. If we are to grow in respect for one another and crave unity and peace the only way forward is to talk to each other and grow in understanding.

That’s not always easy we watch as the story of the conversation between North Korea and the USA develops and wonder how that conversation can be turned round to thoughts of peace.

I have a few words for you all, ‘Pray hard and do what you can’. And as the Master Himself said, ‘Do not be afraid.’

God Bless,

Pam

PS: And now we have an election – hang on folks the madness continues.

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Spring Fair, 6 May 2017

The Spring Fair is on Saturday 6 May, 10.30am – 2.30pm.
Tree in blossomThere will be the following stalls:

  • greetings cards
  • white elephant
  • plants
  • refreshments
  • cakes
  • lunches

and we need to fill them!

Any items gratefully received in advance. Cakes can be received on the evening of Friday 5 May between 6.30 and 10pm, or on the morning of Saturday 6 May.

Thank you.

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Quiz Night!

Question markThe next Wesley Hall Quiz Evening is on Saturday 22 April – come along to exercise your brain, or just to have a laugh!

  • Time: 7.00 for a 7.30pm start
  • Teams: Maximum 6 people
  • Tickets: £7 per person
  • Supper, tea and coffee provided during the evening
  • Please bring your own nibbles
  • There will be a raffle
  • All proceeds to go to Girls’ Brigade Funds and Demelza House

Contact us for more info and to book your team’s place. See you there!

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April 2017

Dear Friends

Big Ben and the Houses of ParliamentAs I sit here today I’m still feeling a sense of sadness about last week’s events, sadness for those who have died, those whose grief will overcome them, sad for those who are still critically ill and their families and for all who were involved who must be shaken to the core by this senseless act. I also feel sadness for the perpetrator – what happened to him? Why?

A great big “Why?” fills my brain. The Koran says if you kill one person it’s as if you kill the whole of humanity and if you do a kindness to one person it’s as if you do it to the whole of humanity. How can someone such as this carry out such an outrageous act in the name of what is essentially a peaceful religion?

The fact is, this man wasn’t acting in the name of God, not the God we know and our ordinary sensitive brothers and sisters in Islam worship. This man was using religion to satisfy a zealous ideology that most would not recognise. As far as these ideologies’ followers are concerned, if you do not share their ideals you are the enemy and a fair target. It is such a strong way of thinking that people are willing to die for it.

So called Islamic State kills indiscriminately and we sometimes forget that most of its victims are Muslims, they are failing in Syria and so try to intimidate others that they see as enemies. What they haven’t realised is that it won’t work. We have seen this all before and will not be afraid.

The words ‘Do not be afraid’ appear 365 times in the Bible, once for each day of the year. We will not be bowed, we will not panic, we will get on with our lives and pray for and support those who have been affected. Our emergency services are exemplary. Police, paramedics, fire officers, doctors, nurses and security services swung into action efficiently and confidently. This attack on the centre of our government was senseless. What has been gained long term? Short term there was chaos and they got the publicity they craved but long term it will back fire because the impact on everyday life for those not immediately affected will return to normal – in fact, it has already a couple of days later, and our security will be increased. They will come to realise that in adversity the British people pull together and get on with it. The war taught us that, the IRA bombings taught us that, the devastation of 7/7/05 taught us that. ‘Keep calm and carry on’ – words often found on mugs and posters. Surely this is the British motto.

We are asked to continue praying, and Westminster Central Hall at the heart of the incident have offered us a prayer:

Loving Creator God,
In the midst of chaos and uncertainty, grant your peace.
To those injured and frightened by events in Westminster, grant your healing.
To the police, those who work in Parliament and members of the public, grant your protection.
May those who are motivated by hate be transformed by love.
May those who care for a broken world by strengthened by love.
May we be guided by your Spirit as we try to find words of comfort and be guided in our actions by the example of your Son, Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray.
Amen.

As we continue our journey through Lent and into Easter, we remember the One who was willing to die for his ideology which was centred on God, His actions were always pointing the way to a God of love and forgiveness, a God who draws people to himself and establishes community. Ultimately a God of love. The man who defeated death and gives us hope calls us to have faith in Him, not in an ideology that seeks to destroy its perceived enemies and cause chaos and destruction.

Shalom my friends,

God Bless

Pam

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