Firstly, a very big ‘thank you’ to everyone who bought foodstuffs, Christmas cards and items from the Traidcraft catalogue in 2012. In the period from October to December we spent as a Church around £630 – down on last year, but still a good amount and a great help to those whose livelihoods are being maintained and improved by fair trade.
As you no doubt continue to tighten your belts as the economic climate gets no better, do continue to spare a thought for those in real, grinding poverty overseas as you do your weekly shop. Fairtrade Fortnight this year is from February 25th to March 10th. It’s an opportunity to challenge ourselves once again about the purchases we make. Small farmers in developing countries are often the hardest hit when the world economy is in trouble. Fair trade gives these people the security of knowing that they’ll get a fair price for their crop, and the long-term stability of a better relationship with their buyer. We are all invited to see what further steps we can take to support this cause.
And finally … did you see the Real Easter Eggs that were on sale last year? The Real Easter Egg is the first ever to include information about the true meaning of Easter. On the box is a short explanation of what Easter is really about; inside, as well as the fair trade chocolate egg, there is the Easter story, an activity poster, an iTunes download and a sticker set.
This is the third year these special eggs have been on sale, and they have sold over 200,000 in the previous two years. (There are 80 million ordinary Easter eggs sold annually in this country alone!) The website has stories of lives that have been changed by people having received one of these eggs and hearing the Easter story, perhaps for the first time. Lives are changed in other ways too, as 15p from the sale of each egg goes to Traidcraft Exchange to support their work with poor communities – as well as the benefits from the chocolate itself being fair trade. The cost is £3.99. OK, so it’s not the cheapest Easter egg you could buy! But it is unique, and is so much more than an egg. It’s an ideal gift for parents and grandparents alike to give.
When I introduced Emmaus as the Church Charity for 2012 one Sunday morning I did not expect the result at the end of the year to be as large as the magnificent sum of £1774. Personal thanks to everyone who contributed, either in organising activities or giving financially.
It is often difficult to demonstrate the impact of Charities and funders are increasingly asking for hard financial data. In November I attended a reception at the House of Lords where Emmaus launched a report “Making an impact” which was the result of a Social Return on Investment study which attempted to quantify the social value created each year by an average Emmaus Community. The full report can be found on www.emmaus.org.uk but here are just 2 highlights. For each £1 invested (including donations) £11 is generated in social, environmental and economic return.
Secondly the report forecasts that the value of savings to Government agencies stands at almost £6m per year. However this sort of statistic does not describe the significant impact Emmaus makes on people’s lives. I hope the articles that have appeared in the Magazine during the year have given some appreciation of that impact. There are, of course, many more Companion stories and examples of how Companions have also helped others across the world.
The sum raised in Frodsham has been forwarded to Emmaus Preston which is still working hard to become a sustainable Community. The message below is from Tracy Hopkins, Director Emmaus Preston”.
“I would like to thank you again for the donations you have made to support our Companions in 2012. They have helped us in a number of ways including specific social activities to help build a stable and harmonious Community. You have helped us to refurbish our town centre shop including the recent opening of a café. We have also opened a Superstore adjacent to the Community. All the work in these developments has been carried out by Companions; your donations have helped with the purchase of materials. We are now in a far better position to move towards a sustainable position and continue to provide the essential support required by current and future Companions.
One final comment: If you have family and friends who live within the area of an Emmaus Community please draw to their attention the opportunity to donate unwanted quality furniture and other household goods and of course the opportunity to purchase good value refurbished items.
During our Christmas Celebrations our Travelling Crib Set went to ten families this year and many faces were lit by the candles in the Christingle oranges at our Christingle service, reminding us that Jesus is the light of the world and that light can shine within us. A donation of £40 has been sent to the Children’s society from that service.
All of our activities for families and children are running again. Please note the dates in your diary. Thursday morning Toddlers is as busy as ever and we now have two new cars and a bike which are being put to good use, as well as new table and chairs for the play kitchen.
Pippa Jacobson, Community & Schools Workser, and I are continuing to go into Weaver Vale and the Manor House schools for assemblies and a lunch time club. Both of which are greatly appreciated by staff and pupils. There are many other ideas and activities being investigated at the moment. Look out for details.
Dates for your diary
Pancake Party on February 12th. Come and eat as many pancakes as you can! Look out for details on the church website.
Come and celebrate Easter together at a short Family Service on Easter Day, 31st March, starting at 10am.
If you need more information please text or ring Andrea on 07749877823 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Young Families Worker
Chapel Fields Care Home has welcomed a new Home Manager, Rachael Starkey. Rachael previously managed Claybourne, an MHA dementia care home in Stoke-on-Trent. Rachael replaces Andrew Bradley-Gibbons, who left Chapel Fields at the end of December. I am sure you will join us in wishing Rachael every success in her new post.
Over November and December we raised over £494 with our Bingo & Hotpot supper and our Christmas Fayre. We had a huge response from local businesses who gave us their support by donating prizes. Our Activities Co-ordinator, Sandra, worked very hard to organise everything. She has now been able to use some of this money to purchase an interactive tablet for the residents to use. This will enable our residents to reminisce by looking at online images of places and people that are familiar to them, listen to music and engage with quizzes. We would like to say a big thank you to all of our staff and volunteers who contributed their time and energy to help Sandra with these events. They really helped in making them a huge success.
As well as our fundraising activities, we also welcomed several choir groups into the home throughout December. On the evening of the 20th December, the home had a special visit from two of Santa’s reindeer! We also organised an exciting Christmas party, with festive food and music. None of our events and fundraising efforts would be possible without the support of our volunteers. We now have twelve volunteers at Chapel Fields and we are extremely grateful for all the hard work and dedication that they give to our residents. They are supporting our residents in many different ways. As well as fundraising, our dedicated team help with gardening, befriending, music and activities.
The challenge for 2013 is to gain more dedicated support on our specialist dementia unit through befriending activities. If you are looking to do something new to help your community in 2013, perhaps you could spare some time to help us in your church, circuit, community group or in the home. If so, we would love to hear from you! Contact Ella Turner on 01928 734743 to find out more.
The staff and residents here at Chapel Fields would like to thank the local churches for their continued support. We look forward to building on our close relationship throughout 2013.
We are fast approaching Lent – Easter falling much earlier this year than in many others. I hope that might afford each of us the opportunity to take time and space to reflect on our relationship with God and within the community God has placed us.
Some changes are emerging at FMC – perhaps the one that will affect people most of all is the renaming of our Pastoral Visitors/Class Leaders as Pastoral Friends. Why the change you might ask? Each Church member is appointed a Pastoral Visitor – someone who undertakes to offer pastoral support, care and awareness to those on their pastoral list. The problem with the terminology is that very often Pastoral Visitors don’t often have the time to regularly visit people that they already see very frequently at church activities or worship. To rename our Pastoral Visitors as Pastoral Friends is to take the pressure off our very busy but dedicated volunteers, and to redefine the expectations that the church and its members places upon them. Some Pastoral Friends have more than 20 people on their list – can you imagine how long it might take for them to arrange regular visits with people?
So, you might not notice much difference to the pastoral care that you receive from FMC – but I would ask you to be aware of the change in title and in thinking. Why? Because we recognise that all the people who offer their time within and outside the church do so willingly and lovingly (and I place on record my sincere thanks to all our Pastoral Friends, old and new), and who want to continue to offer care in the best possible, but also most realistic, way. It doesn’t mean that they will never visit you anymore (asking them to call to see you is very helpful to the Friends so that they can ensure they are there for you as much as possible in times of difficulty or crisis). But it does mean that if they see you at church and know that you’re ok, they are less likely to make an extra effort to call and see you, which gives them space and time perhaps to spend with someone else on their list who needs some additional time and attention for a while.
The pastoral care system at FMC is the best I have ever seen in my life – there is a desire from all involved at FMC to try to be there, and be caring, and to offer support, and to do it well. This change is a recognition of that work, within realistic parameters for those who volunteer for that work. If you are interested in knowing more, please do come and speak to me about it.
God’s blessings to you,
Reverend Denise Harding
A few months ago now I received an e-mail from the Church Council Secretary saying that Frodsham Methodist Church were in the process of selecting the Church Charity for 2013 and did I have any suggestions for charities operating in China. This is not such an easy task as one might imagine as the Government do not always make it easy for NGO’s to exist and operate.
I suggested the Amity Foundation, a charity I had heard of because of one of their schemes, namely the Amity Teachers Programme, where they provide foreign teachers to some of the poorest and least developed parts of China. As I suggested the charity, I was asked to introduce it during the Covenant Service held on Sunday 6th January. I wanted to introduce the charity under three headings thinking about what the Amity Foundation is, what it does and why I thought their work was so important. As I was still in China, and using the wonders of technology, I recorded a video and below is the transcript of what I said.
What is the Amity Foundation?
It is an independent Christian voluntary organisation headquartered in Nanjing and which has links to the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, the Government-approved Protestant Church in China. It was founded in 1985 by Chinese Christians and until his death in November of last year its president was Bishop Ding Guang Xun—who originally trained as an Anglican priest, but became a bishop in the Three-Self Movement when it was established in the 1950s.
The Foundation’s name in Chinese has two characters. The first character means ‘love’ and is a reference to the verse in I Corinthians 13: Meanwhile these three remain: faith, hope and love; and the greatest of these is love. The second character helps form the word for ‘morality’ or ‘ethics’.
The Foundation tries to form a bridge between the Christian Church and wider society in China, contributes to China’s social development and openness to the outside world, and is an ecumenical forum for the sharing of resources.
What does the Amity Foundation do?
It has a variety of projects and ways of helping and enabling mission in rural communities. Amity is supported by the British Methodist Church and, among other projects, is currently supporting preachers who are poorly paid and cover very large geographical areas to meet their congregations. They are working to supply electric scooters to enable preachers to make pastoral visits and attend preaching appointments, for example.
Amity is also the largest printer of Bibles and Christian resources in China and I know that the Bibles in use and for sale at the churches I have visited here in Wuhan always come from Amity’s Nanjing Printing Press.
As well as this Christian outreach and missionary work, Amity also run a variety of humanitarian and development activities ranging from the teachers programme & Children’s Homes (classroom pictured below) to environmental protection (a serious problem in China I know) and disaster relief to the running of clinics and HIV/AIDS awareness projects.
Why do I think the work of the Amity Foundation is so worth supporting?
There are two aspects to Amity’s work that I want to highlight.
There are 23 million registered members of the Protestant Church in China, though there are said to be closer to 100 million Christians in the country.
It seems that more and more people are turning to faith once again after the repression of the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and 1970s. People are desperate to learn more and to worship together but there is a real lack of information and understanding on how to lead worship or set up cell groups or even on how to read the Bible. A Singaporean Methodist I know here says that one of the dangers of this lack of information is that people may be sucked in by cults or fads and that it is more important than ever that the mainstream established churches, like The Methodist Church, are at work here to provide resources, Bibles, pamphlets and to equip preachers.
The second thing I want to mention briefly is their humanitarian work and in particular the HIV/AIDS awareness programme.
From talking to my students, I know there is a real lack of awareness regarding HIV/AIDS and many of my students tell me that AIDS does not even exist in China. Of course, the contrary is true and it is estimated that 740,000 people are living with AIDS in China.
According to Amity, in the poorest parts of China people who have no income are forced to sell their blood to survive. This has resulted in widespread HIV/AIDS infections, where whole villages are ravaged by the infection. Amity has thirty-four village programmes, which include setting up household groups for mutual support, information sharing and the services of health professionals.
Other charities are working on this problem too and one of the British Red Cross’ AIDS programmes is in China. It is more important than ever that awareness programmes are pioneered, especially in rural countries where awareness is even lower than amongst my students.
Of course China is a huge country and there is a lot of work to be done. We hear how China now has the world’s second largest economy and it is perhaps easy to think they no longer require aid money and to forget it is still very much a developing country. If, for example, Frodsham Methodist Church were to raise £1000 this year, that is equivalent to about 10,000 RMB or a year’s salary for many workers in Wuhan—and more in rural areas. Quite small amounts can make a huge difference and Frodsham Methodist Church’s support for a project, such as the one mentioned earlier providing electric scooters, will make a big difference to Christian mission and humanitarian work in China.
More information about Amity can be found on the following web pages:
The Amity Foundation
Churches Together in Britain and Ireland
Blog posts written by the Minister and Members of Frodsham Methodist Church.