Displaying items by tag: churches
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 World Council of Churches’ General Secretary has condemned an attack that took place in the Church of Gethsemane in Jerusalem on 19 March and has expressed solidarity with the Patriarchate of Jerusalem in calling for international protection of holy sites. ‘This terrible attack – which appears to have purposely targeted religious leaders – is an egregious violation of international law’, he said. ‘We stand in solidarity with the Patriarchate of Jerusalem and all those calling for the protection of holy sites, and we reiterate our calls for such protection during Christian holidays and during all days of importance for all faith communities. We are extremely concerned about the increasing attacks on holy sites in Jerusalem and deem it necessary to facilitate a meeting of key religious leaders in the near future to discuss what can be done to stop these uncalled-for attacks on religious leaders, sacred places and institutions.’
‘Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.’ (Isaiah 1:17) In Colombia, churches are playing a key role in welcoming and supporting the millions of refugees who have fled political and economic turmoil in Venezuela. Churches are able to reach out to remote communities where local authorities and humanitarian organisations are not working and build trusting relationships with refugees. With support from Tearfund, churches are providing quality services and activities, including trauma healing groups for women who have experienced violence. ‘It is the first support that I found here in Colombia for migrants like us’, says Julie, a Venezuelan refugee who attends a trauma healing group. ‘When I arrived at the church, I found peace that I previously did not have. When I got to the church, I saw that it was like my family.’
Scotland has been marked by the devastating impact of drug and alcohol addiction in many ways. Today, the nation is at the forefront of addiction related issues and deaths in Europe, with health, economic, and educational repercussions, and social challenges for families and communities in urban and rural environments. The widening mental health crisis, socio-economic challenges, and limited clinical support exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic have led to the highest increase in addiction issues in over ten years. But we are a nation with hope. For decades, Christian organisations have invested tremendously in the building of in-person and online spaces for drug addiction recovery. Within the last decade, over 2,300 individuals have been directly treated and successfully recovered from their addictions through faith-based recovery programmes, with thousands more impacted in some way. The Scottish government has appointed a minister for drugs policy and increased funding to reduce addiction.
Pope Francis, who has met King Charles on numerous occasions, has sent this message to him: ‘I assure Your Majesty of my prayers that Almighty God will sustain you with His unfailing grace as you now take up your high responsibilities as King. I invoke an abundance of divine blessings upon you as a pledge of comfort and strength in the Lord’. The Welsh Church’s bishops said, ‘We invite God’s blessing on our new monarch, asking God to uphold him in the spirit of wisdom, service and faith for the years to come. The King has always been a good friend to our nation; we will hold him and the whole royal family in our prayers’. The Archbishop of Canterbury said, ‘Both Her late Majesty and His Majesty treat others as special because, for both, their faith is built on the same rock - the rock of Christ.’
The women, children and elderly fleeing Ukraine are suffering the most, dealing with the trauma from Russia’s ongoing onslaught. In support of what churches in Ukraine and Poland are doing, the New York Jets donated $100,000 towards the work of ‘CityServe Krakow Housing Project’. Their goal is to expand refugee housing in Krakow, Poland. The money will provide safe homes for families which include a kitchen and laundry room, and food and vital necessities. CityServe said it is incredible that a secular organisation should partner with faith-based organisations to see the gospel spread in this war-torn region.
Christian Aid (CA) recently posted online: ‘As Christians we are called to challenge the injustice of the climate crisis. We know the next decade will be critical for us to act. Every social movement started with a conversation - these conversations stirred anger, fuelled hope and inspired people to act. As the church, we need to have those honest conversations that spur us into action. We want to walk with you, to join these conversations, and act together in the pursuit of climate justice.’ Churches are invited to join in kickstarting a climate justice conversation on 4 July: CA will provide free resources to help engage churches and communities in transformation action. See also
Churches across the UK have marked the second anniversary of the first Covid-19 lockdown with walls of reflection and remembrance in cathedrals and churches as people brought photos, prayers and memories to honour those who have died. Cathedrals and other landmarks across the country have lighted up their buildings in yellow as a sign of support. The Bishop of London, chair of the UK Commission on Bereavement, said, ‘I recall how helpless so many people, including myself, felt in the early days of the pandemic, surrounded by constant reminders of the magnitude of loss being experienced across the country. Today is a day to reflect, pause and remember those we have lost over the past two years and pray for the millions bereaved during the pandemic.’
Every Generation Ministries bring the transformed life Jesus intends for children in Ukraine. Ukraine is home to over six million children and 5,000 evangelical churches. Russia and the West have battled over influence in Ukraine before. After the annexation of Crimea, thousands of children were displaced from their homes to live in fear and uncertainty. The country is in turmoil again and the world is praying for peace. Ask God to invigorate the church to reach out to searching people during this time of tumult. Pray for boys and girls who are experiencing tremendous fear and anxiety during the current unrest and those still recovering from 2014. Ask God to give church leaders wisdom as they navigate the tensions of civilians bearing arms, bombs, and millions fleeing. Christians in the town of Lviv are deploying a shield of prayer and worship. In an upper room African Christians are praying for their host country, ready to be Jesus’ hands and feet to those who must flee. On the other side of Lviv pastors meet, plan and pray the battle for freedom. In separatist areas Christians forbidden from meeting together meet secretly. Ukraine’s vibrant Jewish community of 200,000 is one of the largest in the world. Many elderly Jews are comfortable with Russians as their neighbours. When their men served in the Soviet army during WWII they couldn’t imagine then that Russia would attack Ukraine. ‘I’m following the news,’ said Vera, a 68-year-old Jewish lady who practises Heseds (generously lovingly helping others). ‘I pray daily to God. I’m trying to cheer up my fellow-seniors.’
The Evangelical Alliance are asking the Scottish government to open a grant for converting church buildings to become net zero in energy efficiency, ventilation and in their heat networks so that every church in Scotland is carbon-neutral by 2045. They said, ‘We believe it is part of our commission as Christians to be good stewards of God’s creation. After God created the earth and everything in it, He declared it very good. He invited the people to have “dominion” over it; they were to take responsibility for its care. As followers of Jesus, we should treat the earth with respect because God has entrusted us to take care of it.' Meanwhile seventy respected climate scientists want Boris Johnson to end new oil and gas developments off Shetland and urgently set out a concrete plan for moving from fossil fuels to low-carbon electricity sources.