Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year

We have just celebrated the coming of God into His world through Jesus His son and now during January we celebrate His presence amongst us during the season of Epiphany. The most enigmatic of all church seasons, Epiphany contains some of the most powerful themes of the Christian year as we look at how the power of God's son Jesus was revealed to the world and to us. The great challenge of Epiphany for His church is to continue to show the revelation of God in our own lives and to the world. It is a good time therefore to look at our Mission Action Plan which we launched just  over a year ago to see how we are doing.

A great success has been to see the facilities improvement at Wadworth completed which makes it easier to make everyone welcome within the church building. Likewise at St John's Balby, nearly all of the building repairs have been carried out successfully. January will see the launch of the welcome bag and the introduction of some quiet toys for children.

Another great success has been the opening of the "Cups & Cakes" coffee shop at Balby on a Tuesday morning. The vision was for those visiting the GPs and chemists to have somewhere to call before or after their appointments. No one came, so we made it free and handed out leaflets and we know have a group of people from the fringes of society.

The cafe is in some ways a tale of two parables: 
1) In faith I believe we have planted a mustard seed, it has started growing but those we envisaged coming have not come, we have different people living in the branches of the mustard tree
2) In the parable of the rich mans banquet - his invited guests are too busy to come and make lame excuses not to attend so the rich man sends out his servants to get anyone from the streets to attend and they come. Those we initially invited did not respond, instead those from the streets have responded.

We all pray for this particular mustard seed to continue to grow.

A change in personal circumstances of those who were going to lead the activity day for the elderly that was planned meant that this part of the mission action plan did not happen.

We had a Messy Church tent at the Gala and the Garden Party but we still have some work to do to make Messy Church a regular event. We may need to consider alternatives.

Of course all the regular activities continued, with a very successful Lent project supporting Eden in Wheatley, shoe boxes for the Sea Farers, strong support for the Food Bank in Doncaster and when asked people have risen to the challenge of supporting Stepping Forward, an organisation talking homelessness in Doncaster. 

We now need a time of consolidation, reflection and prayer before we look at what next? Are there any new ideas that need to be considered. Please talk to the PCC members and give your views.

Happy New Year


Alun

Monday, November 30, 2015

Memories and Carols and Awe

So Vicar, what happened to this year’s memorial service? Did you forget? Well no I  did not forget the memorial service, but like many other churches we are looking at different ways to help people honour the memory of those who have died. As less funerals are taken by Vicars or lay ministers, so there are less people to invite to a memorial services.

People all grieve differently and are ready for a memorial service at different times, and some want to come more than once. People also feel grief more intensely at certain times of the year: Christmas, Mothers day, Fathers Day

So we have decided to try to have different services to allow people to remember at different times of the year. The first will be on the Saturday 5th December - “Memories and Carols” - at 6pm in St John the Baptist at Wadworth.

We will sing some carols, read some poetry and have some bible readings. Yes everyone will have a chance to light a candle and yes we will read out names - you can give us the names as you arrive. Those remembered can have died recently or a long time ago. You don’t need to be invited - just come.

Times and places of other services can be found elsewhere in the magazine. On the way to christmas, there will be the usual carol, christingle, and crib services. We celebrate the birth of Jesus at 11:30pm on Christmas eve at midnight mass. Christmas Day morning service will at 10am in St John the Evangelist, Balby. All will be welcome to stop for turkey sandwiches and stuffing followed by mince pies and custard.

Last month I wrote about how the humble conker  had re-awakened  my sense of awe in creation and just as we can take nature for granted we can take God for granted. It is also so easy to take Christmas for granted as we focus on making Christmas “perfect”. We stress about Christmas dinner, about presents, about trees and decorations, about what to wear at parties, and numerous other things. Yet we often miss the point that Christmas has always been perfect and always will be perfect because it is about none of the above “stresses” but about the perfect gift from God to us.

Christmas is about us humans knowing that God so loved us that he does not want to be remote, distant - up there somewhere - but with us. We sometimes need to suspend our questions, and just consider that God steps in to our world with all its mess, hatred, cruelty, pain suffering (that we cause by the way) so that we can understand God better. By being born into humanity we can get to know God by getting to know his son Jesus.

The coming of Christ in the physical form as a baby through Mary can be echoed through the coming of Christ into our lives in Spirit through our faith. Each time we make a choice to walk in the ways of Christ rather than walk our own way. So we prepare for Christmas it is worth reminding ourselves that God’s gift can be born in us as well.

As we approach the celebration of Christmas day, may our lives be one of preparation for the coming of Christ, not just a consumer driven rush of infilling. So my challenge to you is to re-discover your sense of awe of Christmas. The beautiful simplicity of a child born in a manger, visited by shepherds and wise men, hunted by a ruthless tyrant, and protected by faithful parents - and all because God loves us.

Have a truly awesome time

Alun

Monday, October 26, 2015

Conkers

This autumn I have found conkers have renewed my joy of creation. There is nothing humble about a conker and yet their familiarity perhaps makes us forget their awe and wonder - perhaps reflecting our wider ability to take our world for granted. 

It all started in early September when I found a solitary conker in our cul de sac where there is a large horse chestnut tree. I picked it up and thought about it being the first of many to come. I then noticed its outer green spikey shell was also on the floor and I picked up the three parts and put them around the conker. I was somehow touched by the beauty and intricacy  - the protection the spikes offered to predators who would steel the conkers, the way that the shell split open to let the seed - which is what a conker is - lest we forget - escape. Such balance such beauty. 

Then as days went on I would see more conkers each day and how each one was unique - slightly different from each other. I cherished even more when I would find a conker still attached  to part of the shell - beauty and beast in one picture. 

One day latter in September, on a windy day there was a deluge of conkers as the tree released its cargo of potential progeny. Again I was struck by the fact that without the wind many of the conkers would be left on the tree. I found one such brown wrinkled and gnarled example, sheltered from the wind by the wall - the green spikey outside had become a dried out brown with a blackened conker peaking through. 

There are also conker trees at St Katherines Loversall, and while I was down there I noticed the squirrels gathering up and hiding as many conkers as they could. They buried many - and I thought if the squirrel forgets a conker,  I bet that it may germinate and grow into a tree itself. Again I was struck by how creation interacts and is interdependent.  

Of course as we focus on the conkers it is easy to forget that in spring time the conker tree is full of delicate white flowers with a touch of pink! The little flowers forming a cone pointing upwards. These become the seeds - the conkers. Now like all seeds their many purpose is to die so that a new plant grows. and as jesus says: 

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:24)

If the conker is planted in the garden, what happens? At first nothing; but then it takes in moisture from the soil and starts to swell up. Finally the old shell cannot contain the new growth, it splits open and the new life emerges.

When we die to ourselves and live for God and are obedient to him, not only does he bless us and guide our lives but he also blesses others through us – something of his beauty shines through us. Each of us has met people whose lives inspire us. We see God at work in them. God can use us in the same way. He wants to make your life fruitful. Will you let him? It is the principle of the buried grain. Only by burying our obsession with ourselves can we hope to live a full and fruitful life.


Alun

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Candles, clocks and funeral biers and oh yes HARVEST!

During the weekend of the 12th and 13th September we had a great celebration of all the work that has been done done to St John the Baptist Church building.  Many thanks to all who made it such a great success. 

One problem we faced as we came to the end of the project was, What to do with the old weights from the clock? 

In 1898 a clock was placed in the first floor chamber of the Church Tower to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. 

In 1965, to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth 11, the Parish Council gave an electric time­piece to by-pass the original weight-driven works and connected it to the hands of the existing dials. The weights have thus been in church since 1965 gathering dust and generally getting in the way. But now we have found a new use for them.

The weights can be found on the village funeral bier in the south porch. They form a series of ledges on which tea-lights can be put. There are some prayer cards and an invitation to light a candle and make a prayer. A seven day candle and a taper is provided to light the candles. We are considering whether to open to the south porch during the day so that it is always available for prayer and a moment of reflection. Is this something would like to see happen?

The funeral bier is from the early 20th century which for many years was used to transport coffins in the village.The south porch itself has a 15th century front but on each side of the porch inside are 13th century arches. The door into church is very high and may indicate it was originally saxon. The wall above the door appears to have been strengthened in norman times which may indicate it was originally saxon.

Wadworth Harvest festival takes place at 9am on the 11th October in St John the Baptist church with its newly upgraded facilities. During the following week pupils from Wadworth school on Thursday, and Wilsic school on Friday will be joining us in church for their Harvest celebration. Also in St John the Baptist, we will be having a Messy church on Saturday 17th October at 10am which is a great event for all the family, young and old. 

Earlier in the month on the 4th October we continue with our monthly evening service “Something Different” , which is for those who are seeking something different from a church service. We start at 6:30 with home made Cakes and drinks and then move into a period of praising God. The theme “The World’s Beauty”  is linked into a secular song and this month it is “The Corn is as high as an elephants eye” from Oklahoma. We finish with some more praise and some prayers. Individual prayers for healing are available at the end of the service. 

So come and help us celebrate Harvest and the abundance and beauty of God’s creation



Alun

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Come and join the celebrations!!

The famous story of Jacob’s ladder from the Bible ends with Jacob exclaiming this is truly a holy place and marking the spot with a large stone. Peoples desire to mark places of holiness has continued through history. Large stone crosses marked the earliest places where christians would gather to hear itinerant Priests. Eventually small churches arose on the sites of the cross as people wanted to show their honour to God. The first great phase of church building in this country was in the 6th and 7th century but few of these original buildings still now remain. The second phase occurred in the 10th century but again the saxons were not good builders and many of the churches were either strengthened  by the normans or even rebuilt in the third phase of church building after the normans arrived. After the normans left there was an early english phase of building during the 14th and 15th century. 

Now we know St John the Baptist is old but how old? The earliest document evidence we had was that a vicar was granted a living in 1230 - 6 acres were given so that a vicar could have land to live off and then also minister to the people. The Vicarage was completed on the 21 November 1230! However many features of the church indicate the building to be older. The round pillars in the north aisle and their capstones indicate 12th century. The stone work high up on the north side of the church between the windows are of more of a saxon standard then norman standard. So when was St John the Baptist built?

Evermore records are now become digitised and available on line. Even more importantly they can be digitally searched. Recently while looking for something else i stumbled  upon a record referring to Wadworth Church in 1086!  So why is there no record of a church in the Domesday book entry for Wadworth? Well in 1069 the north of England rebelled against William and he took a terrible revenge, burning and destroying many buildings - it may well be that the church in Wadworth became derelict during the this  time only later to be restored back to use. 

Throughout the centuries there have been many changes to St John the Baptist with parts added, changed, taken away. The work this summer is part of that long heritage of change associated with church. We are thankful to all those who helped us raise the money and who contributed financially. We are thankful also to those who gave their time freely to enable the works to occur. We are thankful for the skill with which the work has been planned and carried out by our Architect Peter Pace and contractors Keystone. We must not forget that the result would not looks so splendid without the work of Peter Dutchak and the probation service over the last 8 years, cleaning the walls inside with such care and attention. Peter Pace commented that the church now looks and feels medieval but has 21st century facilities.

At its heart though,  St John the Baptist church still marks a place, like Jacob marked, a place of holiness, a place to be with God but also a place to be with friends and a place to be community. We have tried to make all these part of our celebration and thanksgiving for the work that has been done. So please join use for the Garden Party at 2pm on Saturday 12th September, meet old friends, make new friends, explore the changes to church, find out about parts you did not know. Join our colouring competition, try ringing our bells. 

And then on…. Sunday 13th September 10:30am - Please join us for a service of thanks and rededication with Bishop Peter of Doncaster followed by a bring and share lunch.We are inviting children to come dressed as characters from history. You could come as a King, a Queen, a knight, a soldier, a farmer, blacksmith or anyone else -  so use your imagination.

For the rest of the autumn we have a series called Saints and Angles as we look at St Matthew, St Michael and all angels, St Francis and then St Luke.
So come and join us
Alun


x

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A Crossroads in many ways

By the time you are reading this at the start of August,  work inside  St John the Baptist should have finished and I would hope the path has also been completed. Work on the outside of the church could still be ongoing with scaffolding up on the tower as the clock is re-gilded and some structural repairs to the pinnacles completed.


It has been fascinating to watch the inside of the church take shape over the last few months. While the basic shape inside church has not changed, there seems to be a freshness and lightness. Removing the old heating pipes and installing ramps makes it much more easy to move around the church. The font stands out much better by the south entrance.  I hope many of you will be excited at seeing inside so please come and join us - we should be back worshiping in church from 23rd August.


Although we should be back worshiping in church from mid-august, the official reopening will take place the weekend of 12th and 13th September. The Summer Garden Party which normally takes place in June will now take place on the Saturday 12th September at 2pm. This will be a great time to look around what has been done inside church. If there is good weather, so the garden party stalls will be outside, there will be organised tours inside church.


The messy church gazebo will also be there, so you can come and try out messy church to see if you would like to come along when our monthly saturday morning messy church starts in October.


Then on Sunday 13th September, a service of rededication will take place at 10:30am  followed by a faith lunch. We are inviting children to come dressed as characters from history. You could come as a King, a Queen, a knight, a soldier, a farmer, blacksmith or anyone else -  so use your imagination.


We will be joined for our weekend celebrations on saturday by Bishop Geoff from Lancaster and on Sunday by the Bishop Peter from Doncaster.


They will be part of the Crossroads Mission. What is this you may ask? The Archbishop of York is bringing a team of 21 bishops to engage in four days of mission across Sheffield Diocese 10-13 September 2015. Bishop Steven comments:
‘As far as I know, it’s the first time so many bishops have worked together in mission in this way in a single diocese in the long history of the Church of England’
The vision for the mission came from a retreat of bishops on Lindisfarne, that great Celtic centre from which the gospel spread across the North of England. The bishops sensed a call from God to evangelise afresh in this generation, many of whom have very little knowledge of the Christian message. Specifically they decided to offer to work together to serve one diocese a year in a short concentrated period of evangelistic mission. Sheffield is the first diocese to host such a mission.


So please come and bring people with you to these two days - we want as many people as possible to be part of our celebrations.

Alun

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Bog Standard

For a number of reasons I find myself writing an article for the July magazine at the beginning of May. Now by the time the magazine will come out, we should have a good idea when we will be returning to worship again at Wadworth church, but as I write, all i can say is that it is going very well indeed. 

One thing I am keen on  doing once we are back worshipping in Wadworth church and we have the toilet, is to twin the toilet! What you may ask is “Toilet Twinning?”

Toilet Twinning is a quirky campaign to help the 2.5 billion people in the world who don’t have access to a safe, private and hygienic loo. It is a partnership between development agencies Cord and Tearfund, to raise funds to help provide access to better sanitation, clean water and hygiene education

For £60, people can twin a toilet at home, work or school with a latrine in a variety of countries overseas. For £240 we can twin to a toilet block! You can twin your toilet with a bog in Burundi, a khazi in Cambodia or a lav in Liberia The exact location of the twin latrine can be pinpointed using Google maps. Each toilet twinned is awarded a Toilet Twinning certificate, with a photo of its twin latrine and exact GPS coordinates.  

Poor sanitation causes more than bad smells and embarrassment; it is one of the world’s biggest killers, hitting women, children, the elderly and sick people hardest. More than 433 million school days are lost each year because of water-borne disease. Every minute, a child under the age of five die because of dirty water and poor sanitation. In Africa, half of young girls who drop out of school do so because they need to collect water or because the school hasn’t got a basic toilet. The lack of a loo makes women and girls vulnerable as they walk to the edge of their community to go to the toilet in the open, late at night. For every £1 spent on water and sanitation programmes, £8 is returned through reduced health costs and increased productivity. Many women get bitten by snakes as they squat in the grass. 

So how about it, we know what its like to be without a toilet in church! But at least we could go when we got home. So how about twinning our church toilet? Perhaps we could hold a raffle - first prize - you get to be the first person to sue the new toilet! another ideas - answers on a toilet role -  lets hope we are flush with success!!

Alun


Sunday, May 31, 2015

Prayer Chain

As I settle down to write an article for the June magazine, i find myself thinking about this week and last weeks readings about Jesus saying “I am the true vine” and then his new command “to love one another”. I find myself thinking what good idea the pray chain we used to have was, as it kept us all routed in each other and in Jesus even when we ere in our own homes. So what happened to the pray chain?? Well it sort of petered out didn’t it! As people on the chain moved away, the chain seems to get harder to maintain. So I think it is time to renew it and set a new one up. 

As before my darling wife, Jane will coordinate it. Some of you will be asking - what is a pray chain?? Well this is a very simple and very effective way of very quickly getting important information or  requests for prayer throughout the parish and beyond … it works like this:

A chart is drawn up with all the names of the people in this sort of format
The vicarage is the first place to be contacted
The “vicarage”  contacts 2 people (3 now praying)
Each of those people contact 2 others (7 now praying)
Each contact 2 others (15 now praying)
Each contact 2 others (31 now praying)
Each contact 2 others (63 now praying)

As you can see in a very short space of time each person has only made 2 phone calls, but 63 people could be praying… If you call a number and there is no answer, call the person on the link that the person would have called if they had been in (sounds complicated, but not when you see the real working chart with real names)  If the person is out but has an answer phone, leave a message so that they know what is happening, but go to the next on the list as well.

Please let Jane know if you would  like to be involved in this scheme…. It is a way in which we all, whatever age or physical ability, can be involved in looking after and praying for our brothers and sisters.  Prayer is vital when there is a crisis or ill health, it can support in a way that no other help can.  Jane always gives this great example of a pray chain in action -

“One example is one night Alun rang me to say that he had been involved in a shocking accident on the M! …one man was probably dead, our car was written off but Alun seemed to be o,k he did not know how long he would be, the police were looking after him!  What could I do????  NOTHING, I was at home with the children it was late at night in the winter …. SO…. I rang friends to pray…the feeling of comfort and support was amazing, yes the situation was still shocking and frightening, but to know that God had a hand in things was a great blessing. “

The situations needing prayer are not always as dramatic as that (thankfully)  but nevertheless important in their own right.

I would like the scheme to be up and running by summer so please as soon as you can let Jane know if you are going to take part.  You may feel you only want to do it for a few months, that is ok, your “link” can then be taken on by somebody else.


Alun

Sunday, May 10, 2015

And finally - the builders have started!

Today has been a momentous morning - after 7.5 years of planning, fund raising, a church building council visit, failed and successful faculty applications, lots of meetings a fair degree of angst, the builders are starting work on upgrading facilities and repairing some masonry. Hurray!!

So remember 9am Sunday morning worship will be at St Katherine’s Loversall while the work is taking place. The Wednesday service at St Katherine’s will not be taking place while Sunday morning worship takes place at St Katherine’s. As there is no running water available in the St Katherine’s church we apologise in advance that we cannot provided refreshments after the service. 

A £38,100 grant from WREN has provided just over a third of the funding for the project. WREN is a not-for-profit business that helps benefit the lives of people who live close to landfill sites by awarding grants for community, conservation and  heritage projects. You can follow their projects via twitter @WREN_news.

While the builders are in church, the monthly coffee and chat will be in Wadworth Village Hall on the third Saturday of the month. 

The delay in starting the work means that church is unlikely to be available for the service for the Wadworth Gala on the 7th June. So we planning to have the service outside on the cricket field. 

As you may know the theme of this years Gala is the bicentenary of the battle of Waterloo. We are asking all boys to dress in blue or wear an item of blue clothing and all girls to do the same with red. It would be great of parents joined in the theme and chose to wear the same colours - blue for the men, red for the women. Largely the Napoleon French wore blue and the coalition troops wore largely red. We hope banners for all the empires involved in the battle can also be made. Should make the day colourful! 

The building work has also meant the delay of the Church Garden Party to Saturday the 11th July at 2pm.

The facilities improvements are of course all part of the wider mission action plan for the parish. Regular readers will know that another part of the plan was to open a coffee shop on a Tuesday morning at Balby church. “Cups & Cakes” has started well and we would love to see you, there are no fixed charges, we only ask for donations.

Another strand of the mission action plan was to have an activity day for the elderly. However changes to the personal circumstances of those who were going to lead this project has meant it is unlikely to get underway soon. The situation will be reassessed latter in the year.

I am truly excited at the start of the facilities improvements at Wadworth Church and I am so looking forward to the project unfolding. Lets all pray it all goes to plan.


Alun

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Work in our Church buildings

The wonderful news is that all the paper work is finally complete and we have a start date of the 13th April for the facility improvements in Wadworth Church. This means Sunday morning services will be at Loversall Church after the 12th April for the next fourteen weeks. 

We are thankful indeed for the generosity of everyone that has gathered the funds necessary for these works to take place. There has been the tireless efforts of those organising and running the fund raising events at church which the whole community has supported over the years. There have been some large donations from individuals and a grant from the land file organisation WREN. Then there was last summers fund raising around the village. All in all a magnificent effort.

Of course fund raising is not something unique to this generation. Recently in church we have been looking at chapters 8 and 9 of Pauls  second letter to the Corinthians. Paul is trying to raise funds for the famine stricken church in Jerusalem. A group of very poor churches in Macedonia have given a wonderful amount of money towards the case. the more affluent church in corinth have promised much but delivered little. Paul is writing to remind them of the basis for christian giving. 

Paul tells us of the wonderful grace and blessing of God upon us  - God’s gift to use - his only son Jesus who willingly dies on the cross so that we may have eternal life if we believe in Jesus. This is an overwhelming act of love by God. To believe in Jesus is a wonderful life changing and shaping experience. Understanding what God has done for us, through his son Jesus, helps us shape our response towards God. How do we respond to such generosity? Paul suggests we need to prayerful consider our response and to demonstrate our love for God. Giving our time is one way. Giving our money is another. Paul emphases the need to think first about God. Not to give whats left over - but to think how much should we give back to God. Then how do we live with what is left over. It is a reversal of thinking. 

Part of our thinking needs to change from how much more do i need to live the life i want to lead - to being satisfied with what we have. The American multi billionaire Douglas Fairbanks was once asked “how much is enough money” - “just a little bit more” was his reply. We need to turn our back on this culture of “more”, to a culture of “sufficient”.

Paul then goes on to talk about the a cycle of blessing and giving that many individuals and churches have subsequently experienced over the centuries. It is this - as we understand the true nature of what God has given for us and done for us in in his Son Jesus - we become generous and are blessed by God - we give more and receive more blessing. Somehow God seems to respond to our generosity.

Paul use the example of sowing seeds - if we sow generously we reap generously, if we sow sparingly we will reap sparingly.


We have seen an outflowing of generosity so that we can improve the facilities at Wadworth church. I am now asking the church community to match that generosity so that we can meet the running costs of the church. So please make sure you pick up the necessary paper work next time you are in church. Or give us a ring and the information will be sent out to you.



Monday, March 2, 2015

FAIRTRADE FORTNIGHT 2015

Fairtrade Fortnight is coming - 23 February - 8 March 2015!

Since the first Fairtrade Fortnight in 1995, the movementt has come so far, educating the public on why to choose Fairtrade and increasing sales on Fairtrade terms for marginalised producers. Over the past 20 years, together we’ve made the Fairtrade mark the biggest and best known ethical label in the UK.

78% of the UK public recognise the FAIRTRADE Mark.

From UK sales alone, £26m of Fairtrade Premium was invested by producers in 2013.

But we know there is still a long way to go to make all trade fair – just 1.2% of cocoa and less than 10% of tea globally is traded on Fairtrade terms.

The UK leads the world when it comes to Fairtrade – with more products available and more awareness than anywhere else. Sales of Fairtrade products continued to grow to £1.7 billion in 2013, extending the benefits of Fairtrade to more producers than ever before.

However for a nation of tea drinkers we consume only 7% Fairtrade tea. To improve this we are going to focus on how fair-trade tea can have a positive impact on the communities that grow th tea.

Fyson is married with eight children and 33 grandchildren. The 79-year-old started growing tea as a smallholder farmer in 1964. Eleven years ago, he joined Sukambizi Association Trust (SAT), a co-operative with more than 8,000 smallholder farmers in the Mount Mulanje area of southern Malawi.

The benefits of Fairtrade for Fyson range from being able to drink safe water from a community water tap rather than unprotected wells, to a fund for maize which he can buy at a 30% lower price than the market offers – both funded by the Fairtrade Premium.His grandchildren are schooled in modern blocks and sit at desks also paid for by the Fairtrade Premium. In the future, Fyson would like to grow more tea and see piped water taps in every household. And for himself? ‘A water tap for my house’.

Just 1% of the tea produced in Malawi is consumed locally while the rest is exported. Is it in your cup? Tea provides up to 70% of smallholder farmers’ incomes in the region and they also grow maize, cassava, pineapples, bananas and sugar cane for household consumption and sale to local markets.

The majority of farmers live in houses with thatched roofs rather than iron roof sheets while most have no electricity or running water. More than 90% of their children attend primary school but only 25% carry on to secondary education. Farmers struggle to buy enough food during the dry, off-peak season when little tea is harvested and sold. Changing weather patterns and an increase in pests and disease are reducing yields by 15% on average and affecting farmers’ incomes.

Why tea farmers still need you
• Tea producers in the Fairtrade system sell on average under 9% of their product on Fairtrade terms
• Only around 7% of tea sold in the UK is Fairtrade
• Tea production relies on established rainfall patterns. In recent years weather patterns have become increasingly unpredictable, linked to deforestation and climate change, and affecting producers’ livelihoods
More tea sales mean more benefits for the 285,900 tea farmers and workers in the Fairtrade system, and the opportunity for more farmers and workers to start selling on Fairtrade terms. 

So it may sound easy but using Fair-trade really does make differences to peoples lives. Now we use Fair-trade tea in church but lets try and use it elsewhere and try and influence others to do the same. 


Alun

Monday, February 2, 2015

Mission Action Planning Update

Last year I talked about the need for the parish to have a mission action plan and described the process we would be going through. In early December the PCC passed the mission action plan and we are going to be focusing on six areas. Each area will have a team to lead it.

Church Building Team

This is  an existing team and will makes sure, as best it can, that routine maintenance is done for the churches and has also has been taking forward the facilities improvement at Wadworth Church. The addition of a toilet,  better access both inside and outside will make sure the building is welcoming and accessible to all people.

There was great hope before christmas that work in Wadworth Church would start earlier January. However the elation of having a successful grant bid combined with the joy of Christmas came to a bumpy landing in the New Year when we realised we had to get a lot more information through before the grant money was made available. The money is also not made available upfront but has to be reclaimed after the work is done. We have also had problems finalising the permission to change the pipes and radiators. By the time the magazine is printed perhaps we will have more information but we are still making progress and that is important.

Administration Central Team

Again this is an existing team that looks after a lot of the administration in the churches. We have identified the need for a welcome pack and this team will bring this idea together. If there is anything you think should be in the welcome pack then please tell me.

Welcome Team

Whilst all the congregation are responsible for making people welcome, the team will have specific responsibility for how welcoming guests or visitors to church is organised.

Messy Church

This form of church is becoming very popular around the country and for lots of young families this is their first experience of church. The format is craft activities based around the theme of the session, followed by an act of worship which brings together the crafts that have been made, followed by a time of eating together. Simple but very effective.

Activities Day for Elderly

Social isolation of the elderly is a major issue for society, so we hope to develop some activities, a time to meet, and enjoy refreshments together. Lots to discuss as we get organised so watch this space.

Balby Coffee Shop

The area around Balby Church is very busy mid week with people going to the Health Centres and Pharmacies. We have had a coffee shop mid week before via Pioneer Social Enterprises but the lack of continuity of staff meant that quality of product and services was very variable. so we will run the coffee shop ourselves for a six month trial to see if we can make it work.

As the teams get established and we set days and times for the events we will asked for more help so if any of these appeal to you then have word with me.


Alun

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2015 - A Stellar Year for Celebrations

A truly stellar sequence of anniversaries all occur during 2015. In 1215 the Magna Carta was signed by King John; in 1415  the battle of Agincourt was won by Henry V; Napoleon was defeated at the battle of Waterloo in 1815. All three are crucial moments in the forging of the british nation and all need to be celebrated. I find it a most sobering of thoughts that St John the Baptist is older than all these anniversaries and all three will have been announced at sunday morning worship - just as I announce less amazing notices every sunday. 

The theme of the Wadworth Gala on the 7th June will be the anniversary of the battle of Waterloo -  so who are you going to come as - Wellington or Napoleon? How do we celebrate the other two? Plus there also some other notable anniversaries which could be easily overshadowed - 75 years since the Battle of Britain and 70 years since VE day and VJ day. 100 years since the battles of Ypres and Gallipoli. I have no answers to this conundrum - answers on a post card - and look out for updates.

No “sing along an epiphany” this year as we thought we would go for a summer sing a long - perhaps to commemorate one of the above anniversaries. 

Why does Magna Carta matter?  It has been said that it is Britain’s greatest export.
It is a foundation stone of the freedoms enjoyed by hundreds of millions of people in more than 100 countries
It enshrined the rule of law in English society ‘due process’.
It limited the power of authoritarian rule ‘no one is above the law’
It paved the way for trial by jury
It proclaimed certain religious liberties
It defined limits on taxation ‘no taxation without representation’

At Agincourt, the English were outnumbered up to six to one so the result represented a massive shift in power from France to England. But most crucially perhaps, it spelled the end of plate and chain armour (which could only be afforded by the ruling elite) as a significant defence, as English longbows proved exceedingly effective at piercing it at close range. Beyond the massive loss of nearly an entire generation of the French ruling aristocracy, this meant that a simple peasant could be trained to take the life of a noble Knight, Duke, Prince or King. Thus spelling the beginning of the end for military justifications of monarchical and fuedal structures, although economic and other realities beyond military considerations meant these structures prevailed for centuries after.

Waterloo was so important because it destroyed the French Empire which was sweeping Europe and threatening to create a united Europe. After the French defeat, Europe was split into small states with a delicate balance of power and Britain no longer needed to become involved in European affairs. The peace lasted for nearly a century, with some minor conflicts in between, until the Germans and the French fell out in 1914 and dragged Britain into a European War. If Napoleon had won - we would be speaking French now.

So how do we do justice to this stellar year of celebrations? Each event has shaped what it means to be british - the church has been part of it all - so the church should remain part, central to our national celebrations. Remembering our church celebrations predate any of these secular events, we must not forget that our christians roots have shaped this nation far more than any of these historical events. So central to a remembrance of Magna Carta, Agincourt and Waterloo must be the church and our faith. 

So watch out for more in 2015
Alun