Displaying items by tag: Community
In Shrewsbury, the community is mourning the loss of four teenagers (all pupils at the same school) who tragically died during a camping trip in north Wales. They were found in a car off the road near Tremadog, Gwynedd, after being reported missing two days earlier. The news of their deaths has left the town in a state of shock, with many seeking comfort at the local Oxon Parish Church. Rev Charlotte Gompertz, vicar of the church and familiar with three of the boys' families, has opened the church for prayer and reflection. She described the community's devastation, noting the constant influx of people lighting candles and seeking quiet reflection. The church is providing a space for lamentation and questioning in these difficult times. One mother expressed her profound grief, calling it a 'nightmare’. Rev Charlotte acknowledged the challenge of finding words to comfort the bereaved families, emphasising prayer and the church's role in supporting the community's grief. A police investigation into the deaths is under way.
The nationwide Christmas campaign ‘Shine Your Light’ encourages Christians across the UK to unite and share the Gospel during the holiday season. Led by the National Day of Prayer and Worship, the initiative involves collaboration with a number of different denominations and ministries. ‘Shine Your Light’ aims to have the entire church in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the Republic come together to brighten the countries like a Christmas tree, emphasising community events and activities such as nativities and family-focused gatherings. Churches are encouraged to take their message outside their buildings, sing carols, pray, share testimonies, and follow up with attendees, inviting them to other Christmas events. The campaign will run on 16 and 17 December, with an online map highlighting all participating events and resources available for local churches.
The Labour Party has pledged to introduce comprehensive legislation to ban gay conversion therapy without any loopholes if it wins the upcoming general election. The Government has faced delays in announcing its own plans for a ban, partly due to concerns from various religious groups about potential impacts on their practices. Shadow equalities secretary Anneliese Dodds has denounced conversion therapy as abuse and criticised the delay in banning it. Many church leaders have expressed support for banning specific conversion therapy practices but are concerned that a full ban might hinder their ability to pray with individuals experiencing unwanted same-sex attraction. They cite an example from Australia where similar legislation led to challenges to church teachings and prayer practices.
After continued work by the Salvation Army, a campaign to reduce the stigma around deaths caused by alcohol and drugs has gained the support of MSPs in Scotland. ‘See Beyond - See the Lives - Scotland’ hopes to use testimonies of people affected by deaths caused by addiction to shatter myths about substance abuse, and encourage more compassion. At a Holyrood reception MSPs Miles Briggs and Monica Lennon shared their experiences of losing their fathers to alcohol addiction. Their letters are included with fourteen others who have written to their loved ones on the campaign's website. In her letter, Monica, who attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings with her father in Glasgow as a teenager, writes: ‘A whole lot of life happens when you are waiting for rock bottom. Part of me always believed that you would fall so hard that recovery would follow. There were times it was too difficult to be around.’
Thieves have smashed ‘irreplaceable’ 150-year-old stained glass windows to break into St John the Evangelist Church to steal foodbank products once again. The foodbank has been targeted repeatedly in recent months and organisers have warned that the project could be forced to close, impacting on needy members of the community, if the break-ins continue. Revd Derek Pammett said he was praying for the perpetrators and offered to help them. He said, ‘They are stealing from and harming the community; this must stop or the church authorities will close it all down. If you don't want to involve the police then perhaps someone could ask the culprit nicely to stop. This will harm the needy in our community if it's all shut down.’ Another person said, ‘Someone knows who the perpetrators are. The rumour is that our food is being offered for sale. We give it away free to an ever-growing number of people.’
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has called for churchgoers and people of faith to become blood donors, especially those from ethnic minority backgrounds. Donors of Black heritage are urgently needed to help those with sickle cell, UK’s fastest-growing genetic blood disorder. Mr Khan, who donated blood himself at an event at City Hall, said he held a huge respect and admiration for church leaders and recognised their importance in encouraging people in their congregations to give blood and become organ donors. He said, ‘One of the things about our Christian neighbourhoods is the amount of good they do for their communities: the charity work, the food banks, homeless shelters and the work they did during the pandemic.’ Around 135,000 new donors are needed per year to meet demand; at least 40,000 new blood donors a year are needed in London over the next five years to keep being able to supply blood for lifesaving treatments.
A pop-up ‘Charity Super.Mkt’ staffed by volunteers will be open for a month at Brent Cross shopping centre. It will sell donated clothing supplied by ten UK charities, including Barnardo's and Cancer Research. It comes as second-hand fashion is gaining in popularity amid the rising cost of living and a higher demand for sustainable shopping. It is hoped this will help to change the way people think about second-hand fashion. 65% of people across the UK wear second-hand clothes at least once a week. See Meanwhile in Devon churches have launched a mobile foodbank. The YUM Project (You + Us = More) will run from a converted minibus to reach people who find it hard to access current food support schemes in a fixed location. It includes a social supermarket as well as a foodbank. The service will operate five days a week across Torbay using church car parks and community centres.
There are unseen challenges that people struggle with in later life. Pray for the elderly struggling with eating and living well. May they have a network of caring friends to support them as they find they cannot do the things they used to do, due to limited mobility and shrinking finances. Pray for those impacted by the onset of dementia and trying to maintain their independence in an ever-shrinking world. Pray for the widows and widowers living alone who could be depressed, with no one to share the ups and downs of their days with. Pray for God to raise up people in different generations to come alongside the elderly people in their communities and be befrienders. Pray for anointed and caring people to help older people to understand their purpose in later life. May our aged feel that they remain purposeful in their later years.
A legacy of brokenness endures from the days of Ceausescu’s regime. Every kind of social evil came to fill the moral space left after Communism ended. People struggle with substance abuse, prostitution, human trafficking, and abuse of children. Deep corruption led to economic instability and widespread unemployment. Membership in the EU has helped push Romania further along the path of economic progress and stability. Pray for leadership that has wisdom to follow the right path, and integrity to establish right policies. Romania is one of the world’s most Christian nations by percentage, but it is difficult to see this in society. Communism’s atheistic worldview persists. Weak faith, hypocrisy, and slandering other denominations cause problems for all Christian groups. Christ is not glorified and the Church is not built up. Church members and clergy mix faith with folk religious practices or the occult. Churches neglect poor people.
Big Zuu, a TV cook and rapper, has discovered how a simple hub to distribute surplus food has grown into a national movement bringing communities together. He spent a morning at the Afghanistan and Central Asian Association which supports refugees and asylum-seekers. It is one of many places benefiting from a community fridge network called Hubbub. The Co-op and local businesses give surplus food that would otherwise be thrown away. People come and take free food home, watch demonstrations on how to use spices, berries, etc, receive English lessons, professional support and guidance, and even join a community sports club. 250 new venues funded by Co-op and Hubbub are up and running; they plan for at least 500, which would save 34 million meals from going to waste annually. Zuu said when people have a base to come to, they become involved in each other’s lives and help each other.