Feel free to come to all or just the bits that suit you best
Despite ongoing discussions about the need to keep up this twice yearly practice this coming Sunday, October 28th, is the time you need to alter your watches, clocks, timers etc. That’s because at 2am British Summer Time officially ends.
So Sunday morning everything back an hour please… don’t say you haven’t been warned.
There is a big red box in the meeting area labelled PAFRAS. A few people regularly give food and toiletries for the often destitute asylum seekers that eke out an existence in our city. Those gifts are much appreciated by the people who gather on a Wednesday in St Aidan’s church hall which is always overflowing as we drop off the donations. So what does Pafras do and what need is it meeting? More information below is taken from the PAFRAS website, where you can find much more detail.
But before you read that, the immediate needs are:
FOOD Chick peas (0.5-1kg), Pulses (0.5-1kg), Tins of tuna, tomatoes, Rice (0.5-1kg) Sugar and Pasta, Tinned meat (not pork), Baked beans, Cereals (Porridge, muesli), Coffee/tea, Biscuits
TOILETRIES Moisturiser, Nappies (mainly 10KG+), Deodorants (Men and women), Razors (disposable), Shaving Cream, Shower Gel/Body Wash, Soap, Hand wash and Tooth brushes
So what is Pafras and what does it do?
PAFRAS is the main project in Leeds providing direct support to destitute asylum seekers. All those who attend our drop-in are offered a meal, prepared by our volunteers, snacks and fresh fruit as well as hot and cold drinks. Additionally, at each drop-in we distribute food parcels put together out of the donations of foodstuffs that we receive. We ensure that all volunteers who handle food have food safety awareness training.
The food given out at our drop-in is a vital lifeline for people who have little or no access to food elsewhere. At the same time our drop-in opens a vital social space in which people for whom meeting in a café is unthinkable.
Our aim has been to create a space that service users can feel at ease in and take ownership of. To this end they are encouraged to get involved in running the service, from manning the reception desk to preparing food in the kitchen (more information on this can be found on the volunteering page).
Destitute asylum seekers are one of the most marginalised and excluded groups living in Britain today. Isolated linguistically, culturally and socially, they frequent in a world where rumour and fear over-shadow and often play too great a part in people’s choices. In providing a little for people’s immediate needs, our drop-in also opens a window through which our service users are able find out more about other services they can access.
A range of different services are delivered at the drop-ins:
- One to one support for clients with experienced staff and volunteers,
- Advice, signposting and referral provided by experienced caseworkers,
- Mental health support and complementary therapies,
- Social activities and volunteering – opportunities to take part in various activities including conservation, arts and community projects in partner ship with other organisations.
The first (left) Rod spotted outside what he describes as a outwardly Christian/evangelical cafe in West Virginia, the other two, the “so called” Beautiful One -liners were in a church bulletin.
How do you feel about MBC adopting a similar outreach strategy?
Answers on a postcard please.
One of most valuable attributes of a local church congregation is being a diverse community.At a social level this provides mixed human interaction and caring in an increasingly isolated and compartmentalised society. Old and young mixing together and so able to enjoy vitality, friendships and new perspectives. The connections and support mechanisms churches can offer that foster wellbeing in the wider community.
But many local congregations have lost this diversity of community, small aging congregations proliferate and are declining; new churches of students and young adults pop up. Yet although geographically close these aging and youthful groups do not interact, because the new gathering is suspicious of the inertia of the older and the older perceives the newer as shallow and gimmicky.
Now diversity follows another factor – that of culture and race. Once again mono-cultural churches spring up, playing an important role in fostering a shared story of culture, community and Christ. My experience is that over 2 or 3 generations these churches will diversify as the culture and story of that church becomes more complex and varied itself.
Some churches experience and welcome diversity in one congregation, Moortown Baptist Church being one. This is a blessing to us. Like every blessing it brings joy, opportunity and responsibility. We would do well to reflect upon this diversity. Is this simply co-existence (different groups in the same space but not relating deeply)? Is this one host culture welcoming others as the guests or becoming equal collaborators? I suggest tentatively, that many of us embrace diversity when it is the other we are serving and giving to but might be disconcerted or unprepared for mutual relationships where we receive as much as we give.
I have a sense that as we grow together as different cultures, ages, backgrounds, we can get stuck on relationships of deference on the one hand or strict judgement but not get further. Deference meaning that we excuse the other because are not able to challenge and engage; and judgement bringing harshness because we lack understanding and empathy.
We can grow through this not by assuming coming together is automatic, nor by seeking an artificial conformity but by discovering a deeper and mutual appreciation.
Age and culture/race are easy examples to give but this also applies to gender, class, education, sexual orientation, disability…
And what of the Christian view? Many Christians have followed exciting and challenging journeys in diversity. Not by finding quick ready-made answers but by finding time and time again that as God is three in one, there is something profoundly mysteriously and wonderfully of God when diversity intertwines.
As Christians we also appreciate that Christ was God among us and humble that we learn to be together following the way Jesus Christ lived himself.
So we come full circle. The church is a special place and community in a divided world not primarily because that is the way we choose it, or because we are just nice together, or because we have a ready-made infrastructure but basically because this is how God is and how God works among us. A precious gift to be nurtured indeed.
Graham Brownlee, October 2018
For all Fairtrade and Beehive supporters we have some very sad news. Traidcraft PLC, the Christian pioneer of Fairtrade since 1979 has announced that unless there is a remarkable improvement in sales, they will have to cease trading at the end of December.
Despite its pioneer status and close links with churches across the UK, Traidcraft has been facing serious trading difficulties caused by many of the issues affecting all retailers and by the fall in the pound since the decision to leave the EU. Traidcraft’s ethical model also means it pays its suppliers on time and will not squeeze the prices it pays them – the enhanced prices for producers being the baseline of Fair Trade. The hope is that there may be a way of restarting in a different form next year.
On a more positive note Traidcraft Exchange (the charitable arm of the PLC) will continue to work with marginalised producers and help them find ways of trading themselves out of poverty.
Traidcraft have produced a great final catalogue with a wide range of really lovely products. It is very important they have a strong selling season this Autumn to give them the best chance of moving forward positively.
If you want to help Traidcraft please continue supporting The Beehive (formed in 2000 by members of MBC and other local churches and currently the only fully fair trade outlet in Leeds). We will be very much business as usual to the end of the year and beyond – as long as possible- and we are running stalls at MBC on October 28th and on November 25th for your Christmas preparations.
Please pray about this situation – for leaders and workers of Traidcraft based in Gateshead; for Church Leaders and all the ‘Fairtraders’ volunteering in the nation’s churches; and for outward – looking Christian concern and action for justice in God’s World.
Please, please follow this link to the Traidcraft website and read CEO Robin Roth’s statement: www.traidcraftshop.co.uk/traidcraft-update
To encourage Traidcraft you can email lovetraidcraft@traidcraft,co.uk
Fears that with Cas Stoodley’s departure one of MBC’s longest running outreach projects would come to an end have been allayed. Rewind to Christmas is a tried, tested and much loved feature of church life that has run here at Moortown for almost fifteen years. And that’s why we are delighted to announce that Shelley Dring (pictured above) has agreed to take on the main up front role. Over two days – this year that’s the 26th and 27th of November upwards of four hundred Year 4 children from a dozen local primary school will join us as over four one and a half hour sessions we employ drama, storytelling and craft to show and tell what we as Christians believe the true meaning of Christmas to be.
Shelley who lives locally, is married to Nathan and has two young children works at Temple Newsam House. There she heads up the Learning and Access team. “Although up to now I have never seen an MBC Rewind I have heard lot’s of great reports about them” says Shelley. “As many of you already know I love working with children so being given the opportunity to join your team is something that really excites me.”
Fearing Shelley might be being thrown in at the deep end Rewind veteran John Sherbourne (who if you remember announced his retirement from up front duties after our 2017 Easter Rewind) is making a one off comeback. “It’s funny” John says “but after so many years of working up front with a number of different Children’s Workers, and then being quite content with my decision to take more of a back seat role Shelley’s enthusiasm for the job is really firing me up. Rewind really is a fabulous project, it’s one that invites us to tell the Christmas story to so many different people and I’m sure Shelley will be brilliant.”
COME AND JOIN THE TEAM. One cute little trick that Cas used to use was that once you’d signed up to help at Rewind you’d signed up for life; in other words Shelley and John will be hoping that the list of team they have on file today is as up to date as it was last year at this time. However, if for some reason you can’t come or equally important is you fancy joining us – and that doesn’t mean you need to be available for all four sessions – please see Shelley or call John on 07913505865 as soon as you can.
There’s a gallery of pictures below which give you an insight into what goes on at Rewind. To view a larger version of any of them simply click on the image.
I’ve just returned from a long weekend (Friday to Monday) visiting Cluj in Romania. It may seem a bit “crazy” to go all that way just for a weekend but the availability of direct flights twice a week from Robin Hood Airport at Doncaster now makes this possible!
As most of you will know we have had links with Romania since 1991 and with Manastur Baptist Church in the city of Cluj in the Transylvania region of Romania. The reason for my visit was to be able to join them at the induction service of their new pastor, Daniel Lacatos (pictured below). The church there has been without a pastor since the previous pastor retired three years ago and so it has been a difficult time for them during this period.
Pastor Daniel is married to Simona and they have four children. He was previously pastor at a church in the eastern part of Romania and so they have had to relocate to Cluj. If you would like to see the induction service it is available on the internet via the following link http://bisericamanastur.ro/ (select “arhiva video” and then “7 octombrie dimineata”) – however as it is nearly 3 hours long and has 3 sermons (in Romanian) you may want to just dip in!
I was asked to give a greeting to the congregation on behalf of our church. As well as it being a time of change for them I referred to change in our church with discussion about Sunday services and also with Norman Hiley’s passing. I read Jeremiah 29:11-13 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. “ After the service I was invited to join the invited guests and their families for lunch in the church.
The visit was also an opportunity to meet a number of people I know in the Cluj. I stayed with the Rusu family who visited Leeds in May last year and enjoyed their excellent hospitality. I met Rei Abrudan who was formerly youth pastor at Manastur Church and is now pastor at the new VIA church which seems to be going well and has grown to 500 members during its 3 year existence. I was also taken out to the Apuseni mountains where we visited a waterfall and then stopped at restaurant for trout and chips (and admired the two wolf skins hanging on the wall). I also saw the new Christian centre being built by Manastur church in the mountains particularly for groups of young people and which is getting nearer to completion.
Altogether an action packed weekend which felt as though I had been there for a week!