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Real Life

02 November 2006


Riding for Rwanda

SEVEN BIKERS, including two clerics, raised £24,000 in seven days and 1500 miles, as they visited 16 cathedrals and ten churches between Blackburn, Cambridge and Winchester (pictured).

It was organised by Canon Geoffrey Daintree from Eastbourne; and the money is going to the founding of the first Anglican theological college in Kigali, in Rwanda, which will eventually become an Anglican university. Canon Daintree tells me he visits Rwanda twice a year, teaching theology in Cyangugu, and there is a real need for a college to train clergy.

They have raised enough money now, with a £15,000 grant from the Jerusalem Trust, to open Phase 1 of the college next January, with 20-40 students. The roof is on, he says, and the building will provide some accommodation and classrooms. The curriculum is more or less written, and is currently being validated. They also have three staff members, two sponsored by the Church Missionary Society, and the third is an American woman Ph.D. who has been teaching in Uganda.

‘The day’s on us’

THE IDEA came from Police Inspector Bob Pell: a Big Brew in the churches of Salford, Manchester diocese, offering cups of Fair Trade tea and coffee, and giving space in the churches where the police could hold surgeries to tackle the fear of crime. Fifty-five churches of all denominations, including both the Anglican and Roman Catholic Cathedrals, are joining in, opening as cafés under the Make Poverty History banner.

They will serve free tea, coffee, biscuits and cakes (all Fair Trade), and some churches will run fun-day events as well.

“It’s all free and on us,” says Alan Saunders who has been co-ordinating the event. “It’s a gift from the Church.” But on the serious side it also offers local people a chance to talk to the police. “The police have been working extremely hard, and crime has dropped, despite some incidents just recently. But the level of fear remains; and the police want to reassure people, and tell them of some of their successes in reducing local crime.”

Meanwhile, the Big Brew was advertised by a milk float outside Manchester Cathedral serving Fair Trade tea, coffee and biscuits, with two giant tea pots (pictured), a gathering of dignitaries, and a huge Make Poverty History banner on the Cathedral.

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Floating church

OWNED BY a Methodist minister, the Revd Maurice Perry, but dedicated by the Bishop of Lincoln, the Rt Revd John Saxbee, Pilgrims Way III is the flagship of Churches Together in Lincolnshire.

It has just been on a three-week mission round the waterways of Lincolnshire, starting at Boston Lock, working its way up through Gainsborough to the Humber Estuary, then down the coast to Grimsby and the Wash, and back to Fosdyke.

David Sizer was in charge for first few days. He is both a Methodist preacher and an Anglican Reader, so he sums up the ecumenical togetherness in one person. The vessel can sleep seven, and will accommodate small groups of about a dozen who come aboard for discussion, worship and pastoral care.

The itinerary was carefully planned: visiting churches; entertaining Bishop Saxbee to lunch so he could meet the support team; calling on local yacht clubs and marinas; making the vessel available for trips and visits; and general chaplaincy work among the boating people. It is all part of the wider ministry to those live and work on the waterways around Lincolnshire and the Wash. The chaplaincy is funded by several church groups, including Churches Together in All Lincolnshire.

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Christmas is coming…

But not for a while yet. This early warning is to alert established and aspiring composers to a carol competition just launched by the BBC and St Martin-in-the-Fields, London. The clergy at St Martin’s have written the words for five verses, and competitors must to compose a piece of choral music that can be sung by amateur or professional choirs, or be used by the congregation in a parish church. The first verse goes like this:

Telling God’s story of love come
  among us,
Child in a manger stirs wisdom
Shepherds and kings join with
 poets and prophets
Past, present, future will
  history make.

The prize is £1000, and the winning carol will be broadcast during the Christmas-morning service from St Martin’s. More details at www.smitf.org.

Numbers up

THE BISHOP of Truro, the Rt Revd Bill Ind, has just ordained ten deacons in Truro Cathedral, and his Suffragan Bishop of St Germans, the Rt Revd Roy Screech, is ordaining seven priests in their parish churches.

This is the largest number of ordinations in the diocese for more than 40 years, and Bishop Ind calls it very encouraging news. “Not only have 500 lay people been trained and licensed as worship leaders or pastoral assistants in the past three years, but we are also seeing a marked upward trend in those offering, and being accepted, for training as priests.”

After the ordination service, the Bishop led the ten deacons out on to High Cross in front of the cathedral carrying a Make Poverty History banner to pledge their support for the poorest nations. The Bishop said it was right that their first act after ordination should be to show that faith should engage with the real world, and not be lived out from the safety of a church building.

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Up the garden path

THEY DID it just like the Ground Force team on television.

After 30 parishioners of Woodplumpton village in Blackburn diocese had transformed the vicarage garden while the Revd Damian Feeney was away on a conference, they hid out of sight while his daughter led him blindfolded up the garden path. When the blindfold came off he was overwhelmed, he told me.

It is a large garden and, back in January, he had mentioned in conversation with Lorraine Dean that he had always dreamed of an outdoor place to sit and pray.

She remembered, and, waiting for their chance, the large group of parishioners aged from 7 to 70 set to work in sweltering weather. At the end of the garden, overlooked by a field of cows, they created a hard-standing seating area (pictured), with a pergola and space for an outdoor altar. They cleared and replanted flowerbeds, and planted new trees. It was just what Mr Feeney wanted.

He tells me that for an altar he would like a pile of stones as in the Old Testament, with the clematis-clad pergola as a baldacchino over it; but he will have to talk to the Bishop about it. Meanwhile, he says, it is a lovely place to sit and say the Offices and to hold Quiet Days (in spite of the curious cows looking over the hedge).

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