News from the Messenger

Vigil for Peace

Christine Green

It is now one year since some of us began standing outside the church’s west door in rain, sun, wind (almost always wind on that corner!)  and snow, for one hour every Friday, inviting anyone to join us in the name of peace. Why on earth would we do that?!? “I can pray for peace at home any time, I don’t need to stand outside and do it,” you may say. But the Vigil for Peace is outside for a very important reason. It says to the world that we believe these issues matter so much we want to remind people, week in and week out, to raise awareness, to offer people a chance to stand in solidarity with others of like mind, publicly, to show their depth of feeling about peace. 

Our large board reads: Join us for a while to reflect, to remember, to pray... for peace in our lives, our community, our world.

So, the point of the vigil is to witness publicly to humanity's calling to work for peace, to raise the profile of a peaceable existence as a desired human condition and for  the need to work for the 'things that make for peace.'  This last element is often overlooked. We can all do something!! Peace is fragile, cannot be taken for granted and each one of us has a responsibility to be aware day by day of how our actions, words and attitudes may build or destroy peace – around us or in the wider world. Our presence is a challenge to each person who passes, to respond somehow. Even if they choose to look away and ignore us, they have still had to make a choice when faced with our message! The issue has been brought to their attention and maybe got them puzzled, introduced some questions which may challenge them somehow in their lives. 'Why do those people do that, why do they think it's so important? Surely the UK is at peace, what do they mean? ' and so on...maybe someone who scurried past will bring it up in the pub that night - 'guess what I saw today, these people had this board, it said …. what do you think about that?' 

Many individuals have stood with us– from just a few minutes to well over half an hour. Some are returners.  Some pass by with a supporting comment or thanking us for what we are doing. Some will come over and want to talk about a particular issue or question us – which is very welcome.  Some offer us money!  (The silence of the vigil is important, so we try to conduct any conversations quietly to the side, with one of us leaving the group to speak with the person) 

Occasionally we have a side table with information about Christian peace-making groups like Fellowship of Reconciliation, or briefings and cards to send to MPs on current peace and justice issues. 

For two Fridays before Christmas, we handed out a total of 60 small bags containing a night light and the Universal Prayer for Peace, with a printed invitation for people to light the candle at some point over Christmas and spend time reflecting or praying on the need for peace in the world and for how they might personally be able to act as peacemakers in their own lives in the year ahead. These were very well received, especially by young people.  In August, we invited people to write messages on paper doves to remember  the victims of the Nagasaki and Hiroshima atom bombs – many are still tied to the tree outside the church rooms! We have had ‘Stand A Minute for Manchester’ earlier in the year, and many did.

The question ‘What Is Peace?’ on a board with space for replies has attracted many interesting comments, each taped on for others to read. One person went for a half hour walk to think about it before returning with his answer.

Why do we stand in all weathers? We believe it is important to be consistent and witness to the fact that the need is ongoing regardless, and any inconvenience or discomfort to us is insignificant compared to what others are going through when suffering oppression, injustice, war, despair and all ways the absence of peace might manifest itself in their lives. The message can also come over more strongly in bad weather, as the strength of concern for peace may be thrown into sharper focus. Finally, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire heard of the vigil and requested an interview with yours truly, aired live on Sunday August 6th.

Do join us if you’re passing, if only for a minute. There is something very powerful about standing outside with others in a common cause, in silence. Personally, I find praying in this way heightens my attention to God’s voice, and deepens the connection I feel with all people regardless of their responses to us.

Peace begins with each of us. That is the heart of our message.

 

Are you sitting comfortably? (You should be!)

If you haven’t been in church recently, you have missed being able to sit in comfort in your favourite pew. Thanks to The Friends of SNPC, most pews in the nave have been fitted with new cushions, and plans are in place to fund putting cushions in the choir stalls and in more pews. The cost so far has been more than £4000, and so it is understandable that more funds need to be raised to complete the job. Thank you, Friends, for the fund raising you have master-minded to    enable this work to go ahead.

Lady Chapel Altar Kneelers

Grateful thanks, too, to Val Freeman, who has provided new altar kneelers in the Lady Chapel in memory of her mum, Nora Brown. Nora’s memory lives on, of course, in the weekly whist drives which she started in the Church Rooms many years ago,  and which are still regularly attended by many who remember her well.

 

A Message from the Social Committee

Many thanks as always to all who attend and help with our events it is lovely to have opportunities to spend more time together. By the time you read this our Harvest Lunch will probably have already happened! If however you read this early then do please join us for it … Sunday October 1st – Harvest Lunch – 12.00

Saturday October 14th  7.30 pm in the Church Rooms “Pointless” Evening with Fish and Chip Supper (Chicken or vegetarian options also available)– please come  and enjoy a fun evening based on this popular television quiz. Tickets £10 from members of the Social Committee. Come as a team or join one when you arrive. 

” Noughty” Celebration Lunch Sunday November 26th in the Church Rooms – this will be an opportunity for the whole Church Family to help celebrate with those who have “Noughty” birthdays or anniversaries this year. Jane Gill will be liaising with all those of you who have already told us about your special day but if you’ve been keeping yours a secret until now please let Jane or me know!

Tickets will be £6 for adults to include a hot lunch and celebration drink – no charge for children. 

As always we welcome feedback, new ideas for events, and offers of help – please talk to me or any member of the Social Committee

Best wishes

Carol

Carol.way@btconnect.com

 

Kenya 2017

Catherina Griffiths

During August, David and Jane Gill, Jane Jarvis and I visited my friends  Winnie and Benson Munene in their home in Kabare, Kirinyaga Diocese in Kenya. We were met at the airport by 2 cars including 2 more old friends as well as the Archdeacon of Kirinyaga. It was at Kabare College that John Lobei was training (we supported John through our charitable giving to Crosslinks) and Winnie was one of his tutors. We met John at Isiolo where he now lives. David will report on this meeting in a separate article. Our first weekend was spent visiting Kutus and meeting Mothers Union members prior to their trip to Uganda. On Sunday we attended Benson’s home church and were greeted by a second breakfast before the service and then lunch afterwards. The church was full of young people for the launch of a fund raising project and there was much singing and dancing (which we joined in).

During our first week we hired a minibus with a lovely driver, Julius, to visit Lake Nakuru, Lake Bogoria and the Samburu Reserve. We were limited as to where we could go in both lake reserves because the water had covered the road and in Bogoria we had to off road to reach the geysers for which the park is famous. Samburu was quite different as it was suffering from drought and animals were searching for food. There were very few tourists due to the recent elections.

Our second week was spent in the community based at Kabare. We went to a wedding in Kutus where the Feeding of the 1000 actually happened with plenty to spare! We were split up as a group on the Sunday to visit Benson’s 3 churches and gave greetings from SNPC. We all were fed by the locals in their churches. The highlight of the trip for me was to visit the Kathaka Water Project, which we supported with our Christmas card collection a few years ago. We were overwhelmed by our greeting as we arrived and thanked for our support to buy water storage containers. Water is rationed to 2 hours a day at the moment and so families are able to fill their tanks during this time and use later. It was so good to see happy healthy people with healthy crops in their fields. We also visited a couple of other projects that SNPC have supported – a toilet block as well as electricity in Mutuma Primary School. The village now has electricity but 12 years ago when I last stayed there it did not.

Benson has been a parish priest in Kirinyaga Diocese for many years and so travelling around was a slow process as his many friends wanted to stop the car to greet us. We were shown around a tea factory in one former parish and visited a rice farm in another. 

We had what we thought was going to be a formal courtesy meeting with the Bishop of Kirinyaga Diocese, but it turned out to be a trip to The Holy Land! Bishop Joseph drove us in his car to a plot of land which he has developed into a “Stations of the Life of Christ” and he took us around and we relived Jesus’ life as we walked around hearing these well-known Bible stories. We met up with a church youth group, also using this facility and then finished with a picnic. The Bishop later sent out a TV crew to interview us for Pillar TV.

It was good to go back and visit many friends I’ve made over the last 17 years and also to see how the country is changing. We were able to keep in touch with the world back home through a weak internet signal at the college. On my first visit there was no contact at all, only one landline phone in the village and post was delivered to a PO Box in town. Roads are much improved and I thought that my fellow travellers might miss out on the dirt road experience. This was fulfilled in our final hours on the way to the airport when central Kenya became gridlocked due to several accidents. We arrived at the airport 10 minutes before the plane was due to take off to find the flight had closed. However prayers were answered very quickly as we were allowed to board but without our luggage. We arrived in Gatwick and prepared ourselves for difficulties retrieving lost luggage to find that it had all travelled with us.

Everyone we met has asked to send greetings back to our church members which we bring to you all. We are very grateful for the generous hospitality we received in people’s homes and for all our friends for giving up their time to make four English travellers so welcome.

Catherina Griffiths, Jane Jarvis, David and Jane Gill.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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