We must do to our churches what Beeching did to the railways

The Church of England is the custodian of 15,700 churches. A whopping 78% of them are listed. And they are a millstone around our necks, sapping the energy of our wider social and religious mission, and transforming the church into a buildings department of the heritage industry. Indeed, I suspect that if every single one of them were blown up tomorrow, England would be a much more Christian country in 10 years’ time.
The start of an article by Canon Giles Fraser , the rest is here and well worth a read. Comments can be sent here and will add to the website if you would like a debate!

A Lent Pilgrimage to the Holy Land 2016 – following in the footsteps of Jesus

Bishop Richard is to lead a pilgrimage to the Holy Land from the Diocese in Lent 2016, 20th-28th February 2016. . The journey gives you the opportunity to visit the place of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, following the final journey of Jesus in Jerusalem and visiting the place of the Annunciation in Nazareth. This being organised by Lightline Pilgrimages with details of the intinerary on their website

24 October – Grow in confidence in sharing your faith – Day Course for ALL

Saturday 24 October 10 – 3pm   The Forbury Chapel, Leominster   (along the road from Leominster Priory)

A day on one of the strong themes emerging from the Follow! conversations – how to grow in confidence in sharing our faith as followers of Jesus today. On this relaxed and informal day we will discover ways each one of us can accompany the people around us on journeys to faith and journeys in faith – simply and naturally. Hosted by Lay Development and led by staff of The Ugly Duckling Company – authors of the Puzzling Questions course and Table Talk cards.

Booking essential (places limited): contact Lay Development on grow@hereford.anglican.org or 01584 871086. Cost: £5 payable on the day. Tea and coffee provided

Prayer for the Refugee Crisis

DoveHeavenly Father,
you are the source of all goodness, generosity and love.
We thank you for opening the hearts of many
to those who are fleeing for their lives.

Help us now to open our arms in welcome,
and reach out our hands in support.
That the desperate may find new hope,
and lives torn apart be restored.
We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ Your Son, Our Lord,
who fled persecution at His birth
and at His last triumphed over death.
Amen

Refugee Crisis – Diocesan Response

Email from Anni Holden, Director of Communications, dated 14 September 2015 reproduced in full below:

Dear All,

Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Bishop Richard has asked me to write to you to inform you of the Diocesan response to the Refugee Crisis. Chrissie Pepler, Community Link Development Officer, Karilyn Collins, World Development Officer and I, as your Director of Communications, met with both Bishops and the Archdeacon to discuss how we might respond if some of the government’s planned 4000 Syrian refugees each year were directed to Herefordshire and Shropshire. We also discussed how we might respond to other questions and needs.

The arrival of refugees was split between the two major counties. Shropshire Council is already on top of planning, with an officer already in post to lead a planning group. Chrissie Pepler and Bishop Alistair will concentrate on Shropshire and be in direct contact with the Council to see what it may require the people of the Diocese to do. We all agreed it was essential that we work with the local authorities wherever possible, so the welcome for desperate people can be organised together rather than having individuals ‘doing their own thing’.

Herefordshire Council is still deciding what to do. Councillor Johnson has been designated as the Lead member and will be pulling together a planning group. Karilyn Collins has been in touch with him already. Following our meeting, she will contact with him again, to offer The Great Hall at The Palace, for a meeting of the essential statutory and volunteer organisations, who will be invited to get involved.

In the meantime we are asking you, all the people and parishes of the Diocese of Hereford, to consider whether you, or someone you know, may volunteer for one or more of the following roles:

  • Befrienders – We will need people to ‘be there’ for anyone arriving from Syria, whether families or single and people of all ages. Be realistic in offering to do this as it will mean a commitment of time and flexibility.
  • Accommodation – Can we identify empty houses or flats, vacant holiday accommodation or suitable room in your home. A list of potential space would be very useful.
  • Arabic Speaker – If you can speak Arabic that would be very useful and we would love to know who you are.
  • School Spaces – It would be helpful to know where our schools have space for new children.
  • Support Workers – We will need people who have experience in working with families and traumatised people. We need medical volunteers and those with expertise we have not identified but which you think might be useful.

If you can, please share this e-mail as widely as possible in the parishes, both within and outside the church. We are asking volunteers to let me know a.holden@hereford.anglican.org what you can offer, under which heading, as soon as possible. Please be as generous as you can. We expect to get some weeks notice of potential arrivals.

We are also asking all parishes to pray about this terrible situation. You may choose to hold a special service, a vigil or just to use the Church of England prayer for Refugees which you will find on the front page of the Diocesan website www.hereford.anglican.org. We would like the prayer used widely and we will provide a sheet for reproduction and distribution in the immediate future. I will email it to you as the most efficient way of reaching all parts of our very large Diocese and suggest you photocopy onto a heavier coloured paper if possible. Just do your best!

You may wish to donate money which we suggest you direct to the agencies working on the ground in the Middle East and in Europe. We suggest Christian Aid, Tearfund, The Red Cross and Save the Children.

Anni Holden

Anni Holden
Director of Communications
The Palace, Hereford HR4 9BL
01432 373342 or 07889 186316
a.holden@hereford.anglican.org
www.hereford.anglican.org

Harvest Charities 2015 – Farming Charities Chosen

This year we will be supporting two farming charities this Harvest.

Farm Crisis Network
Helping Farming People through difficult times.
F.C.N. provides pastoral and practical support to farming people during periods of anxiety, stress and problems relating to both the farm household and the farm business.

The Addington Fund
The Addington Fund provides homes for farming families having to leave the industry and emergency grants in times of hardship.

 

 

Private Prayer

O Lord our God, we are often prone to grumbling;
Forgive us and move powerfully in our lives,
be our vision and bind us together Lord.
In our hopes, in our work, in our rest and
throughout our daily lives strengthen us with your power,
that we might fulfill our earthly vocation and make
every effort to live in unity and peace with all people;
to the glory of Christ. AMEN

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