Stories From Our Community: Autumn Term 2016 (Part Two)
Continuing with part two of our series, we have stories of a pilgrimage to Iona, a sleepout challenge to help the homeless, and students getting involved in church community and volunteering.
St John’s, Waterloo, London: A Sleepout Challenge
St John’s Waterloo is an inclusive church, believing that Jesus calls us to welcome everyone, and to work tirelessly for a safer and more just world.
"For the past 4 years, members of the congregation of St. John’s, Waterloo have been sleeping out for the ROBES Project, a charity local to Southwark that provides winter shelters for the homeless from around 20 churches in the diocese. On the night of 25 and 26 November, a team of six, including several students and myself, a student at KCL, went from St. John’s to Southwark Cathedral to spend the night on the cold, hard slabs of the Cathedral grounds. As a group, we raised £2,636.09 of the £81,000 raised for the ROBES Project this year. It was an immensely humbling experience. To us, the sleepout represents the radical commitment to social justice that our understanding of the Gospel entails. It is a prime example of the nature of life and of mission at St. John’s.
As well as continuing our commitment to ROBES in 2017, St. John’s will be continuing our successful Bridge at Waterloo project, which aims to provide young people in our local area with employable skills by bridging between technical computer skills and the vast number of artistic ventures on the Southbank.”
Jack Allen, student member at St John’s Waterloo
Broughton St Mary's Church, Edinburgh: Faith and Foodbanks
Broughton St Mary’s Parish church is home to a faithful and creative worshipping community on the eastern edge of the city's New Town. It runs a Foodbank two days a week that is part of the Edinburgh North West Foodbank network, a project seeded by The Trussell Trust.
Any Foodbank relies on food donations, a volunteer staff team to administer the three days supply of emergency food, and a referral system. The Broughton St Mary’s Foodbank has support from churches in the parish and other faith communities. Annandale Mosque, the Baha’i Association and the Edinburgh Liberal Jewish Community have all supported the Foodbank with food and financial donations. It has also been supported by local schools – pupils have visited the Foodbank to see it in operation and have organised school collections – and businesses in the parish.
The volunteer staff team is drawn from people in the local community – people of faith and people of good will. Quakers, Roman Catholic, Brethren and Church of Scotland churches regularly provide volunteers. Some people have no faith motivation, but are drawn by the struggle to challenge injustice or to show solidarity by helping their neighbours.
Students are part of the volunteer staff team and two universities have also sent students to conduct research as part of their ongoing course work.
The foodbank belongs to a community wiser that the church community and it serves a diverse community of people. The openness to dialogue and “the other” has led us, as a church, to discover common ground with people of other faiths and no faith. Our interfaith vocation prods us to nurture wellbeing – love of God and love of neighbour – amongst people and organisations in the parish.
Revd Graham McGeoch
St Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow: Pilgrimage to Iona
St Mary’s Cathedral is a busy, diverse congregation in the West End of Glasgow. It strives to provide a ministry which is affirming, inclusive, open and non-judgemental, as well as engagement in social issues and a high standard of liturgical worship.
In September, 25 members of the Cathedral congregation – including 4 SCM members – went on a pilgrimage to Iona (25-30 September 2016). The pilgrimage was launched at a live BBC Radio 4 Sunday Worship in which SCM members participated and the pilgrims were blessed. Members also contributed to a number of elements in the pilgrimage.
To end the SCM weekend in Glasgow some members also took part in the Cathedral's monthly Open Silence session on 16 October 2016 introducing Christian Mindfulness and the Jesus Prayer. Rosaries made by SCM members were blessed during this session.
Revd Cedric Blakey
The Church at Carrs Lane, Birmingham: A Home for Students
The Church at Carrs Lane is a welcoming and inclusive community in the heart of Birmingham city centre. The church is traditional but open-spirited, with a passion for social justice.
We have been pleased to welcome students from different universities in the city and to share in pizza after the service together. We've also shared in good conversations, chats about the service, and life in general. Some students have become part of the community and we are very pleased to get to know them more and learn and worship together.
Students have helped make pizza for the rest of the church, shared in volunteering for events for vulnerable families, been involved in a worship consultation, and we are planning to have students share in leading a worship service early in 2017. At the students' request, we will be having an experiential bible study regularly after worship on Sundays in the new year.
Deacon Ruth Yorke
St James’ Church, Piccadilly, London:
In September the Circus Spirit, our monthly group for people in their 20s-30s, hosted a talk with Ben Ryan, a researcher from the think-tank Theos, to talk about his report on chaplaincy in the UK. In October we held an event on Islam and sexuality, where academic and researcher Shanon Shah guided us through Koranic interpretations of, in particular, homosexuality. In early December, rector Lindsay Meader held an end-of-year quiz about events in 2016. The first two were well-attended with between 15-20 people showing up. We had a smaller gathering at the Xmas meeting but it was still enjoyable.
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